Like many things in life, press intros are a mixed bag. Upsides include direct access to Porsche engineers and a chance to drive new models before they hit U.S. shores. Downsides include equal hours on airplanes and the ground, jet lag, recommended routes, and unpredictability.
Sometimes, you get great intel from Porsche’s best and brightest plus enough drive time to glean valuable observations. Sometimes you don’t, as was the case at the 2010 Turbo launch in Portugal. Rain made the race track at Estoril so slippery that Porsche canceled that test. The wet and unfamiliar local roads were little better.
We’d been particularly curious to drive the second 997 Turbo after heavily criticizing the first one’s handling. The 2007–2009 Turbo exhibited a lot of squat under acceleration and far too much brake dive, which proved both unsettling and unpredictable.
Despite the rain in Portugal, we did see hints of greatness. While the 997-2 Turbo looked nearly identical to the 997-1 Turbo, it was no mere facelift. Its new, 3.8-liter 9A1 flat six was more powerful and sweeter than the old, GT1-based 3.6. Its AWD had been revised to improve handling predictability, as had the suspension. Perhaps most interesting, a new option called Porsche Torque Vectoring applied braking to the inside rear wheel to kill understeer (Excellence February 2010). On wet roads, at reasonable speeds, at least, PTV worked transparently. Still, we wanted to try it on roads we knew.
It took a while, but a 997-2 Turbo eventually made its way to our Northern California offices. Painted Macadamia Brown, it was optioned with PDK, Sport Chrono Plus, and PTV. We didn’t waste any time in heading for our north test loop, the most challenging 200-mile road loop we know. Sporadic rain made things interesting, leaving some parts of the road wet and the Turbo’s sides caked with filth. It wouldn’t get washed until its last day with us, however, because it never sat still long enough.
Every staffer came back with a wide grin and the same thoughts: “Incredibly fast.” “Super satisfying.” “Ridiculously fun, yet somehow mature.”