I’m more of a tuning kind of guy, and I purchase aesthetic and functional mods to make my driving more satisfying. I want my cars to ride smoothly for everyday driving while handling sharply on sweeping bends and tight corners.
I like to lower a vehicle to reduce car lean while cornering hard and to make them look good to my eyes. But I'm also not too fond of crashy suspensions and those that hop over bumps because they lack travel and have springs that are as stiff as a sore neck.
In the same way that I'm not too fond of ketchup, garnish, and pickles on my Quarterpounder with cheese, I am also very picky with how my cars should look and drive on the road. I like to make them appear and feel sporty but at the same time ride like a cozy and supportive living room lazy boy.
Now Mikko, why don’t you just buy two cars then? One for everyday driving and another you can play with on the track. Alas, after more than 30 years of tinkering with cars, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that in the Philippines, a proper, serious track car will never be ideal for the street and vice versa.
And then comes Porsche. Let me be honest here - I’m not a Porsche fan. Despite my review of the Cayenne, which I felt was the best all-around car I’ve driven so far, Porsches seem alien to me.
Yes, they look great in photos and even more awesome in person. But I’ve always felt that for the price you’ll pay for one, the least you can expect is for it to perform with high standards. And it does, for sure, so again, no surprise there.
Also Read: FULL REVIEW: 2023 Porsche Cayenne 3.0 V6
Porsches don’t intrigue me as much because, at the back of my mind, they will deliver a splendid driving experience, whatever happens.
But when you encounter a whole plethora of them in one venue and have the opportunity to drive them all too? To be honest, I am stoked.
Just another day at the office
Driving various Porsche models this past week at the Porsche World Road Show in Singapore has allowed me to feel what makes this brand so unique. The timeless design shared among its nameplates is just the icing on the cake because underneath the metal and carbon fiber panels lie the product of long hours of engineering designed to make the cars excel in handling and comfort. And with 10,000 horsepower present this weekend, one can easily get overwhelmed in the presence of perfection.
For those who’ve been along the modding route, extracting handling performance while maintaining daily-driven road comfort are two opposing objectives. But for Porsche, making an SUV handle like a sports car, for example, is just standard fare.
Every Porsche, even the two-ton heavy Taycan EV, can corner like a train on rails and still maintain a smooth and silky ride on everyday roads. On the other end of the spectrum, a Cayenne can handle similarly to a stance sports car and yet have the ability to get itself out of rough, undulating off-road terrain.
At PWRS Singapore, we were exposed to the performance limits of various Porsche models. A drive around Changi’s suburban roads confirmed that even a Porsche 911 (Specs | News) Turbo could cruise and glide over bumpy roads without knocking your teeth off. Try driving a coilover-shod Mazda MX-5 along EDSA, and you’ll get treated to a harsh and jarring ride that will make you wish you never took off the stock springs and shocks.
Then there were the luxurious Porsche interiors, all lined with soft-to-the-touch leather surfaces and equipped with modern touchscreen, haptic, and button interfaces, balancing the high-tech and the traditional. So even a 49-year-old boomer like me can easily operate the car without getting overwhelmed by distracting LCD panels that require laser-targeted finger placement to get a function done right.
But ultimately, the performance bit of it all riled the senses the most. Whether it was the mid-engined Boxster or a 911 Turbo, a Panamera, a Taycan Turbos S Cross, or a 917 Cayman GT4 RS, the spine-tingling experience was all familiar and the same… in an exhilarating way!
All proper and uncompromising
Two cars etched themselves in my memory after the PWRS experience. The first was the wild 917 GT4 RS. From the Alcantara-clad interiors that just screamed, “I am a race car,” to the purposeful aero that adorned its exteriors, the GT4 was pure business.
The intoxicating noise, not sound, from the 500 PS 4.0-liter flat-six at the back was heavenly as it climbed the revs to 9,000 rpm. From a low snarl to a deafening shrill, the induction and exhaust noises blended into an orchestra of pure auditory satisfaction.
The sharpness of its handling and the non-jarring ride it had on the cement surface of the test course only accentuated the inherent versatility of the GT4 as a pure-bred sports car and an everyday ride one can use to show the world your standout personality.
And then there was the new 911 GT3 RS. We’ve seen it in photos and watched it on YouTube, but seeing it in its full glory as it was unveiled for the first time in Singapore, confidently poised in front of you, is a higher experience altogether.
Also Read: 2023 Porsche 911 GT3 RS: The ultimate track weapon?
The ultimate 911
As a 911 built to earn the fastest lap times possible, the 992-generation GT3 RS is a technological and engineering marvel.
The aerodynamics built around this car is just jaw-dropping. Using aero cues from the 917 GT4 RS, the GT3 RS took the concept to a new level. The way Porsche engineers sculpted how air is directed through, under, over, and around the wide-bodied car toward that massive Drag Reduction System-equipped rear wing only shows Porsche is focused on its intent. And that is to build the best sports cars one can drive.
The re-tuned 4.0-liter flat-six mounted in the rear now produces 525 PS and 425 Nm of torque. It can do 0-100 km/h in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 296 km/h. While those numbers aren’t even the highest compared to its competition, it is in lap times where the GT3 RS will shame its peers.
Along with driver-adjustable electronic suspension, differentials and traction controls, carbon ceramic brakes, wider front and rear tires, rear-wheel steering, and lighter weight, the aerodynamic appendages account for about 860 kilos of downforce at 286 km/h. For perspective, that’s about the weight of a Suzuki S-Presso (Specs | News) sitting on top of the 911 GT3 RS racing near-300 kilometers per hour.
With the Weissach Package in this 911 GT3 RS, there's more Alcantara, knobs, switches, and buttons that all serve a purpose. Lightweight carbon fiber racing seats stripped of excess cushioning, straps for door levers, and a carbon fiber roll cage, none of that aftermarket stick-on fakery here, all account for the bare essentials that will get the job of going fast done.
Watching the GT3 RS move around the makeshift handling course at the PWRS was a treat. The instructors driving it weren't shy to take the car through its intended paces. While the performance driving bit in the Singapore PWRS was no Nürburgring, it was the closest we could get to flooring the accelerator in the Island State without getting a ticket.
And if just for that exercise of keeping up with the GT3 RS in a GT4 RS, the whole afternoon, nahhh, the whole trip to hot and humid Singapore was worth it.
The perfect nightcap
But Porsche wasn't done with us just yet. Marina Bay Sands, Porsche Singapore's lifestyle partner, treated our delegation to a SGD 720 per head three-course dining experience at the ongoing Food & Wine Festival organized by the hotel.
With exquisite dishes prepared by renowned Australian chef Luke Mangan, the fine dining experience and matching wines and beverages complemented our fine-driving experiences that afternoon.
From freshly prepared Hiramasa Kingfish Sashimi to Confit Ocean Trout and Prawn, to seared and poached 9+ Wagyu Beef, along with Riesling, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Auslese, the dining experience allowed us to savor the pure and natural flavors of expertly prepared dishes. Not too far off the satisfaction and exhilaration experienced from driving 26 of the finest engineered sports cars from Stuttgart.
The price of perfection
The truth is, all the Porsches we drove at PWRS were built with one objective in mind - attaining speed without sacrificing comfort. This is the Holy Grail of every car tuner who wants to race and win on track days and have the same car driveable enough to get him to and from the track without needing a trailer.
Not every manufacturer can let its patrons test-drive cars in this fashion, which is a shame, really. But as Porsche has shown, one sure way to attract more customers and convert naysayers like me into its fold is to let more people experience its unique DNA through its cars and the lifestyle it promotes.
PWRS has once again proven that whatever Porsche model you drive, you will get the same satisfaction for your discerning senses. Granted, some models just raise the notch a bit higher.