For 2017, Porsche went back to its roots by dropping the flat six in the Boxster/Cayman line-up in favour of a four cylinder layout, just like road and racing cars of old. They also resurrected the badge 718, which first referred to an iconic four pot racer from the late Fifties through to the early Sixties.
The decision hopefully will also reduce the number of comparisons between the “entry level” Porsche and the 911.
The good news is that the new car is in every way worthy of the Porsche name and drivers will be instantly aware of what type of car they are sitting in.
This is the sharper, more focused version of the Grancabrio; equipped with more power, adaptive suspension, faster gear changes and added loudness.
The Sport is propelled by the same engine that resides beneath the elegantly long bonnet of the regular Grancabrio and Granturismo (the coupe) but has been tuned to serve up even more power.
The Ferrari-sourced 4.7 litre V8 transmits its 450 horses to the rear wheels through the standard car‘s ZF gearbox, which has also been ’breathed on‘ to reduce gear changes by half. All of this combines to permit a 0 to 62 time of 5.2 seconds.
At the risk of being accused of overstatement, this car is almost improbably beautiful and simultaneously aggressive. It‘s all elegant lines and perfectly placed bulges, not to mention a pair of the nicest hips in the business sitting low on 20-inch graphite wheels. Stand back, gaze at it for a second and you‘ll realise that it‘s a striking machine from any angle.
I‘d tested the coupe version, the Granturismo Sport last year and couldn‘t get enough of it but this car had added appeal; as the name would suggest, it‘s a soft top. And it was red.
Selecting Sport mode does many things that are beyond my understanding. The entire car becomes even more taut and lively by remapping induction, ignition, damping but most importantly, it gets louder.
Starting it from cold will give you a satisfying enough sound but as your hand inevitable strays to the Sport button, a relatively refined idle becomes a guttural growl, then a sharp bark when you dip the throttle. A cacophony of pops on the overrun will then widen your grin. All of this gets better when the Grancabrio is introduced to tarmac.
I got myself installed behind the ’wheel and into the supportive seats. The ride is refined and the cabin is surprisingly well insulated from road and wind but thankfully not the delights produced by induction and exhaust. It will cruise contentedly for as long as you want it to and you‘ll be perfectly comfortable.
However, you‘ll get the most out of this car on fast, clear A roads with the roof down. It was still a bit nippy so I had my seat heater on maximum.
Gearing down from almost any speed will produce blinding acceleration and at the first set of good bends, you‘ll experience the tremendous grip at all four corners.
Point the car in and you‘ll be rewarded with accuracy, apply some good throttle on the exit and you‘ll feel a touch of movement from the back wheels.
An intuitive traction system ensures that even the most ignorant of drivers can convince themselves that they have talent. If there‘s even the slightest hint of body-roll, the Grancabrio Sport will not bother telling you about it.
Run out of road and the huge discs and calipers will heave the big car down from the most impossible of speeds without any drama.
This is a superbly balanced car and Maserati has not achieved this by accident. A lot of attention has been given to things like mounting the gearbox at the rear, counter-balancing the mid-front positioned engine, lowering the suspension and stiffening the springs and dampers. All of this has been dialled into this sport-focused car but without the loss of any of its character or unquantifiable Italian flair.
I was left with the feeling that this was not simply a GT convertible and not quite a supercar but a fine blend of both. The Sport is blisteringly quick, accurate and sounds fantastic if it‘s a tool for a couple of hours of fun but is also impeccably behaved and supremely comfortable on longer hauls.
This is a car that any manufacturer would be proud of but isn‘t – because they haven‘t built it. However, Maserati has and I always expected it to be this good.
It seems like Fall has come early in Ontario this year. During the 3rd week of August, the family here in The Garage spent some time in cottage country and noticed that the leaves had already begun to change. On Sunday this past week, when I finished up shooting the Drift Mania event at Mosport, I decided that it was warm enough to drive home with the top down. I was in for a real treat.
Sliding behind the wheel of the 2011 BMW 335i Cabriolet, I belted up and reached down to the center console and depressed the button that brings us to open sky mode. All 4 power windows lower themselves and then the folding hardtop begins its Transformer act, as it disappears beneath the rear deck. A quick stab of the ignition button and the 300 horsepower, twin turbo 6 rumbles to life with that distinct straight 6 growl. I shift the automatic shifter over into manual mode and roll away gently in first. Pulling out of the track, I lay firmly into the throttle and the back end steps out a little before the stability control reigns it in a bit.
No related posts.
Over the years here in The Garage, we’ve been lucky to have become friends with a number of people who have been rather involved with the sport of underground cross country rallying. In each case, these folks choose to race German cars exclusively. With one rather notorious exception, the brand of choice is always Porsche. Why? Because they run like a tank. In fact, it seems to be a pretty common joke amongst the Porsche drivers that whenever they see an Italian sports car on the route it is broken down on the side of the road or sitting atop a flatbed.
It should come as no surprise then that JD Power’s latest dependability study names Porsche as the number one brand for vehicle reliability. The JD Power rankings are perhaps the most important quality reports for a car manufacturer in the US market, obviously the largest market in the world. The irony is that the consumers who know this best are the ones who actually use their Porsches for what they were meant for: driving fast!
As an aside, even that rather notorious exception now has a Porsche racing under the team colors!
OK, so a few days after that Yaris-sports-car post, Toyota comes out and shoots me right out of the air and decides to establish:
Committee to Create Interesting Cars (C2CiC, what I call it for short)
Now this is good and all for those Toyota fans still wanting, praying and hoping for another AE86, or better yet, another Supra. What I have read/heard and seen many journalists rant (and with totally good intentions) about how sports cars can be the MOST interesting cars Toyota could create, they may totally go off on a separate tangent. They could keep fueling the fire to their Scion line of xB/xA series of ‘interesting vehicles’. Maybe they could keep trying to be one-on-the-range with all them yankee cowboys and create an even LARGER Toyota Pickup truck.
Who needs Superbowl when you’ve got Youtube? Just one more & then I’ll let you get back to your football, I promise. Somewhere along the way, vintage racers got the reputation for not actually racing. They supposedly just parade around and make the right noises. Well, tell that to the driver of this Healey 3000. On the first 2 laps of a vintage race at Zolder, Mark Schmidt passes a whopping 29 cars! Anyone who thinks this guy isn’t pushing just needs to watch the move he pulls on the standing start. Just incredible. This is another one where the volume needs to be very loud!
Watch the video after the break
No related posts.
The daily grind has been tough here in The Garage the last little while, so it really cool when we come across something this funny. Over at Autoblog, they’ve found this cool South Park cd with a ton of Nineties tunes, guaranteed to make you put the pedal to the metal. This inspired the crew to compile their own fun filled lists.
Great job guys and watch back in The Garage for my own list, when I can find a few moments to collect my thoughts.
No related posts.
This is the way it used to be. Race entry info and supplementary regs photostated and folded, all blurry and easily stained. Fortunately, this one has been kept in great condition. Harewood Acres was one of many WW2 air fields around North America that were turned into makeshift race tracks as sports car enthusiasts discovered road racing. Harewood Acres was an important place in the early days of racing in Ontario. Drivers like Roger Pense, Peter Ryan and Bob Holbert raced there in early Porsche RSK’s.
No related posts.
A group of automotive designers from Coventry University have spent the last 18 months creating a complete automotive vision. Their program not only involves development of a new, environmentally friendly sports car, but also the ground up creation of a car company.
Taking their inspiration from the legendary Cooper Climax Formula 1 car from the late sixties, [Read more…]
No related posts.