A lengthy flat section of road comes soon enough, and I see and hear Chapman disappearing down it in the 750R. Game on. With this first exploration of the car’s power, Levitas’ cautionary advice, along with everything else in my brain, is compacted to the back of my skull.
Literally is a word misused too often, but it’s appropriate here: Literally, I’m not sitting on the seat; the full weight of my body is suspended against the seatback. Even so, there’s no explosion of power, just relentlessly increasing acceleration. The steering wheel feels smaller, further away as I reach for the shifter. The shift from second to third is violent.
It’s like an aerobatics lesson — physically taxing and almost sickening — and yet it’s utterly amazing and surreal in its intensity. Your brain can’t quite comprehend all that is happening, but your body knows something’s not right. Even for a veteran Porsche racer, it’s an altogether new experience. While my mind struggles to process the rate at which the 775B gains speed, I simultaneously want to lift to make it stop and keep the throttle pinned to see where exactly it might go.
My internal debate is decided for me, because I soon find Chapman sitting at a stop sign. Thoughts are mixed. Should I try this again? Or should I just bring it back now and pronounce the car too powerful to handle on public roads? The very same voice that whispers “Second place is just first loser” refuses to accept anything less than victory pipes up. And it wins the argument: I’m jumping out of this airplane again!
After more time spent acclimating to the 775B’s amazing acceleration, we’re on a series of interconnecting roads that form a perfect street-test course. It’s a combination of a long straight, curves, and gentle hills. Just as confidence is growing and familiarity with our test circuit is reaching a comfortable level, Chapman pulls over to switch cars for the first of several exchanges.
He says he had a near-identical experience in the AWE 750R, and was at least as floored by the intensity of its power. “The first time the boost came on, it literally pushed all the air out of my lungs,” he notes. “I was momentarily disoriented.” However, we both agree that once acclimated to the power delivery, the flash of uh-oh-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into desperation is replaced by an all-consuming thrill. No, an addictive, all-consuming thrill. Before turning the 775B over, I say to him: “This car is nearly perfect, and if yours isn’t, I don’t want to switch.” He admits the 750R isn’t perfect, but promises I’ll like it anyway.
He’s right. Incredibly, the 750R feels even faster. Acceleration seems stronger and begins lower in the rev range. It’s an overstatement to characterize its boost as an on/off switch, but it comes on significantly stronger than in the 775B. But it also wanes sooner.
Through the curves, AWE’s 750R displays a more agile character. It feels lighter (it’s not). Its steering feels faster (it isn’t). Interestingly, unlike the 775B’s custom-valved and proprietary-sprung Bilstein Damptronic electronically adjustable suspension, the 750R is suspended by off-the-shelf Damptronics. Some difference in feel on the street may be attributable to the car’s much-lighter PCCB ceramic-composite brakes and, more likely, its Michelin Pilot Sport Cups versus the TPC 775B’s Toyo R888 tires.
The Michelins display all the characteristics so polarizing of that tire: very quick turn in, stiffer ride, difficulty in maintaining desired slip angles at the limit without entering a stuttering slide. By comparison, the Toyos endow the 775B with more suppleness but deaden and delay feedback in their slower response. Like so many things, it’s a tradeoff.