Month: Aug 2020

A Late Night Snack Run to Remember: Porsche Cayman GT4

Porsche 718 GT4

Its 20:03, the little guy is being put to bed by his Mom, and I’m on my way out to our local garage for sweets, chocolate, and emergency ice creams. The fate of our Marvel Franchise omnibus is at stake. What seems to be a routine trip to the garage is however very complicated on this Covid-19 filled evening, as what is now staring at me were the typical ‘Dad mobile’ lives, is a very low, agile, two-seater cars that Dads surely can’t drive?! It’s a Porsche 718 GT4, and the short run to the local garage will definitely not do, as I need to make sure we exercise the long ratios from the six-speed *glasses mist up* manual gearbox that’s in this vehicle.

Before I get into the meat as to the kind of child I turned into in my short time with this little monster from Stuttgart, we need to start at the beginning. You see, when I learned to drive and in fact, the vehicle that I passed my driver’s license in, was also from a European manufacturer that just like Porsche, has a six-cylinder configuration which has long been the engine of choice for them as well. My little brother, now known to many as the host of Ignition GT, was a mere lad that somehow always found himself in my passenger seat on trips to the shops, ordinarily late in the evening where the air has cooled, and a naturally aspirated motor can sing the song of its people. Those nights, mixed with general male mischief was the foundation of our love for cars and as soon as the vehicle shaped key was slotted into the GT4’s slot and turned clockwise, the familiar chatter of a six-cylinder firing up to its resting idle, albeit in a Porsche flat engine formation, brought me right back to those nights.

Driving at walking speeds, not because I’m a responsible resident in my estate, but as I didn’t want to catch the lip spoiler, you can tell that this is an analogue driving machine. It’s unhappy at low revs, wanting to hold on to its lowest gear possible to make sure that you have some torque at least. You see, this is old school. Here, you have to look for the performance. At normal speeds, the GT4 is happy to cruise along with its soundtrack gently whispering sweet nothings to you while its Racing seat holds you together like a Twinkie. Coming to the main road, nursing the clutch out, and its “GO GO GO” away from a green light, while burying your go faster foot into the carpet and the six comes alive. No, this is not a wave of torque that you ride like in a turbocharged or supercharged vehicle but rather like a snowball that gets quicker, louder, blurrier and more intoxicating with every thousand revolution that passes. I had executed my award-winning gear-changes countless times, but there is still a moment of nervousness about messing this one up. Not this time, as it slots into place and the tachometer begins its race again to the red line, clutch, grabbing a handful of third and you’re now chasing speeds that are above the national limit-Driven by the sheer awesomeness has you thinking that even in prison, I will be as hardcore as this car that under me. At the red line in third, you realise how tall the gearing is as you are now just over the 160kph mark and out of pure shock, you back off and the car slows down because of the compression, it’s on overrun, slowing down and you as you near the next red light. The guy asking for change doesn’t even come near you. He is reasoning with himself that even though his situation is terrible, it’s no worse than a fat man ugly crying in a sports car, at a light, just before curfew. 

What brings about the ugly tears and face, is the heart of the beast, in this case, it is a 4.0l, naturally aspirated motor. Producing 309kW and 420 Nm of torque with a redline sitting at 8 000rpm, the GT4 can get you to from 0-100kph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of a 300kph. What rewires you is the power delivery. From the first time you bury your foot, the millennium in all of us asks, “where is the power?” No young one, you have much to learn. You see, instant gratification, is the norm especially now with every motor either packing a turbo or a supercharger and sometimes, both. This has led to the birth of the “PlayStation Racer” (Patent Pending) You see, this is the type of driver that just holds the steering, his turbocharged motor, at full boost, waiting for the brake to be released as launch control has been activated. The left foot comes off the pedal and the driver, using his unparalleled skill to hold the car straight, goes through the automatic gears and boom, another 1/4 mile done in about eleven seconds, and our man is a hero! Not in the GT4.

This is a vehicle that is so basic but yet so rewarding to drive that in its category, has no real comparison. This is a vehicle that is ten, yes TEN seconds quicker than its predecessor at the “Green Hell”, and if you don’t know where the Green Hell is, then this isn’t the car the for you. It begs you to dig and as you dig deeper and deeper into its skillset and bag of tricks, it’s then where you realise that manufacturers don’t have this sort of offering anymore. This is a vehicle that lets you dictate the speed and the tempo of the drive with all of your inputs. A vehicle that has left the changing of cogs to you and you only. A vehicle that has no assistance in getting more air into its lungs, to the point that you can hear the inlet manifold sucking in air that echoes within the snug cabin, and at the same time, the spent air coming from the standard sports exhaust encouraging you to send it all the way to the red line again, and again and again.

The GT4 is by far the most rewarding drive in this “truck crashing into a train while carrying several tons of fuel, driven by an infant into a parked plane” of a year. A beautiful reminder that some manufactures have stuck to their guns and have made a car that will still, in this everchanging climate, make you childishly grin from ear to ear. Porsche is a brand that feds into the simple pleasures, when their clients requested a manual in the GT3, they looked back and said, “would you like that with six or seven ratios”. A manufacturer that in 2020, has given us a naturally aspirated motor, married to a perfectly weighted gearbox and clutch. Just wow.

For those wondering the fate of the snacks, I should express in fact, the only reason why I remembered that I needed to bring snacks is due to the eventual decision to be on my way home. I stopped to feed that glorious six-cylinder and remembered why I had left home in the first place. That, with full knowledge that you have been gone for at least two hours, the window of movie watching is far out of scope, and you come home to a fire breathing lady that just wanted to have some snacks while watching the God of Thunder. Sorry babe, but so worth it, what a car!!

Silent but violent – New Porsche Taycan driven.

We’ve all experienced this scenario before: you’re sitting with either friends or a loved one and enjoying their company. Perhaps watching a movie or reading before bed, when suddenly, out of the blue – it hits you. At first, you’re shocked as you’re unsure if what you think is happening is really happening. At that point your brain indeed confirms that your suspicions are a reality and the inevitable question arises: “Did you fart?” Depending on who committed this heinous deed, the question is either met with silence and shame, or hysterical laughter. Either way, once you have the confirmation from the perpetrator, the stench often intensifies rapidly, inducing feelings of anger, confusion and sometimes giggles. This whole scenario takes mere seconds to happen. It’s unexpected; it’s jarring to the senses and in some instances, it feels deadly. The age-old saying remains true: “silent but violent”.

The same can be said about the new Porsche Taycan. How so? Well, it too is both silent and with its silence comes extremely violent acceleration. The only difference is that the Taycan will not hurt the environment. Yes, the “full-fat” Taycan Turbo S we recently sampled at the national media launch will reach 100km/h in 2.8 seconds. So, we can truly say that the Taycan can clear a room. Immediately. This figure is not what astounds you the most though, but rather how the vehicle reaches this speed. You see, unlike its most related sibling the Panamera Turbo S – which uses a snarling V8 powerplant – the Taycan is fully electric, meaning that all 1050Nm it produces is instantly dispelled in a way that is more shocking than your grandmother dropping a bomb at dinner. Since the Taycan runs on batteries, this also means that it doesn’t emit the traditional sound you would expect from a vehicle with a combustion engine. In fact, the smart people at Porsche have had to work at creating a spaceship-like engine tone in and out of the car to ensure that pedestrians know you’re coming. Besides that, the Taycan is near silent. Design-wise, the Taycan’s modern look screams at you, though it looks like a Porsche concept car driving on South African streets. People gawk, stare, inquire and of course capture every time you’re spotted in the Taycan. Understandably so as it is quite a fine specimen on the road. 

Under the bonnet. Is that even a thing anymore?

Without going all “sciencey”, the Taycan’s powerplant can be summed up like this. It uses two motors on each axle and an 800-volt Performance Battery with an over-boost function. The total figures are 560kW (100kW over-boost) and the aforementioned 1050Nm. Yes, you read correctly. The Taycan also uses a two-speed transmission with an extremely short first gear ratio which explains the slingshot launch control sensation. Being a Porsche, the Taycan is still every bit a Porsche as you can imagine it to be, with very dynamic handling characteristics. The Performance Battery is located at the bottom of the vehicle, giving it a low centre of gravity. The result is a very planted chassis and nimble front-end turn-in. The latter is due to the rear-axle steering which comes in handy since the size of the Taycan is not small. In fact, the vehicle weighs over two tons, but you wouldn’t know that since it feels very light on its feet. Size-wise, the Taycan can fit four adults comfortably and the whole vehicle begs to be driven for a long time as the 4D chassis control system makes for plush ride quality – perfect for gran touring. Long drives in an electric car? This is usually not the case, but the Taycan actually has good range for an electric car. If you behave, you can get over 400km in one charge, but naturally you can expect a more conservative figure when you take into account driving styles and types of roads such highways and city driving. Whilst we’re talking about being inside the Taycan, you’ll be happy to know that this vehicle keeps to its modern theme on the inside, with a minimalistic approach taken design-wise. Almost all functions can be controlled via the touchscreens, including the air-conditioning vents – a must-see. Like really, Google “Taycan air-vents touchscreen”. 

When you do need to charge your Porsche Taycan, it will take you 4.5 hours to juice it up to the brim at home with the AC charging unit. However, if you use a DC charger you can get 80% charge in 22.5 minutes and 100km of range in 5 mins. Our test unit’s charging station was touch-enabled, with the flap smoothly sliding into the body when opened – another cool feature in the Taycan.

How does it make you feel?

We still feel that there is a perception of a lack of excitement when it comes to electric cars. Time and time again, a vehicle with an electric powerplant proves that thrills can be provided by these silent assassins. The Porsche Taycan Turbo S takes these thrills to another level. Yes, the petrol head in you, wishes for a howling flat-six, but putting that aside, when you lock into the experience you soon realize that this. Is. Still. A. Porsche. Enough said.

The future. Now.

Porsche has proved that brands steeped in driver-focused heritage can play in new spaces without compromising their ethos. The Taycan represents a new dawn for Porsche, whilst still keeping the brand’s identity alive. For those looking to compare the Taycan to something else locally, they’ll realize that it’s a pointless exercise. The Taycan has no competition in South Africa, as Elon Musk has left SA high and dry when it comes Tesla. What this means is that there is no point in asking the question if one should buy this car or not. Those who want it, will get it – despite the price tag (over R4million rand for a Taycan Turbo S). All we know is that it’s a marvel. It’s a whole new experience and a great one at that.