July 22, 2009

I still wouldn't buy one.

A colleague today let me test-drive his 2006 (997) Porsche 911 Carrera S. I've spent much of my life fending off enthusiastic Porsche owners by explaining how much I hate the things. While I respect the engineering, I don't like the looks, found them severely uncomfortable, and generally lacking in any sort of soul. I drove a 911 when a teenager, and the experience was a profoundly negative one (no, I didn't stuff it, the shiny side stayed up) but I felt very much like the car was sneering at me as being 'unable to handle it.'

I have a word for people who buy cars like that. That word is 'masochist.'

Anyway, ever since I started working with this gent, he and I have gone back and forth about various performance cars. I have no great experience driving them (I was born and raised in New York City, and haven't strayed from my urban canyon existence much) but I do own a German car of my own and enjoy it quite a bit, even if it's not really a performance car.

Anyway, this co-worker was gracious enough (actually, enthusiastic was the word I'd use) for me to take his baby on a quick jaunt through Houston downtown and onto the 59/45 freeway for several exits and back. So I did. I understand his feelings; I like my car so much I often urge other people I know like cars to give it a try.

So. I didn't stall. I didn't lose control. I didn't really go that fast - at 7pm on a weekday there are all kinds of cops hanging around Houston's freeway system and downtown area. I did, however, get to do several really severe lane-slices, to take unfair advantage of several on-ramps, and generally wind it up to the top part of its rev range in the lower gears. I think I kept it under 85. I'm pretty sure I did. He claims that the car really only gets 'happy' at 90, so what do I know.

Anyway, yes, it does have light steering. It does have a remarkably good kick in the pants for a flat six, just so long as you have the revs high. Since I drive a V8, my shifting instincts are all wrong - and I kept watching the speedo not the tach, shifting up reflexively once I got near what I thought was my current cruise speed. My colleague tried to convince me to drive the Porker with its revs up high -above 4500 - so as to have torque on tap. He was right, in that if you put the boot in it with the revs in the right range, the thing spools up fearsomely quickly.

But I don't think it's for me. I like a car that can growl along at just above idle, but then when required pull like a cockslapped oxen (haha oxymoron) off the line.

So I liked it. But if I had the scratch for a good 997, I'd be looking for a used Aston Martin, or maybe one of the new supercharged Jags. Because I love looking at my cars. And looking at a 911 for any length of time makes me want to reach for a newspaper and squash it.

Posted by jbz at July 22, 2009 12:25 AM | TrackBack

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