Turbos At The Glen
Spanking The 997 Turbo In Its Natural Environment
We first brought you the full review on Porsche's new insanely quick 911 Turbo in the September '06 issue, but at the time we hadn't had a chance to thoroughly flog it on the track. But I've just got the chance to run a few hot laps at the legendary Watkins Glen International Raceway, the same place the very first turbocharged 911 made its inaugural appearance in 1974 for the FIA World Championship Six Hours of Endurance.
Fittingly, my co-pilot is none other than legendary racer Hurly Haywood. Very few can toss a Porsche around as quickly and gracefully as this iconic champion. So here I am behind the wheel of the most powerful and competent 911 Turbo, on one of the most challenging courses in the land, and I have Hurley sitting shotgun.
Warming up, my first lap is a wash. Hurley motions with his hand and tells me it's time to open her up. We hit the main straight and the car gobbles it up in a matter of seconds. The new Turbo is the quickest accelerating Porsche ever. Thanks to its beastly 480 bhp, 413 lb-ft. of torque and new clever four-wheel-drive Porsche Traction Management (PTM), the Turbo can now run a 60 mph sprint in only 3.7 seconds. That's supercar territory-the likes of the Carrera GT and Enzo. Just as impressive, the Turbo sells at a mere fraction of their price. Think of it as the affordable supercar.
We round the first set of turns with the precision of a guided missile and nearly as fast. Steering is razor sharp. Point the front end and the rear follows through without the slightest twitch. The suspension is remarkably well sorted. The car handles like a dream-it makes you feel more accomplished.
Where you would expect understeer, the car maintains a neutral bias and runs firmly planted. Active safety systems such as PTM, Porsche Stability Management (PSM), and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with normal and Sport modes are largely responsible. The system analyzes a broad range of values, including acceleration, steering angle and the rotational speed of all four wheels, providing immediate power adjustments to the front and rear accordingly. It allows greater and consistent use of the available power and monstrous torque. Such cutting-edge technology wouldn't work without good rubber. Large 19-inch alloys wrapped with unfeasibly wide Michelin Pilots do the trick and prove an ideal combination, with incredible lateral grip. Such hard driving would normally turn most brakes to mush-not these PCCB (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes) anchors. Never once do I sense the slightest amount of fade. Even the standard six-pot units are massively effective under the extreme track abuse.
Equal time is spent with both manual and Tiptronic S versions. I generally prefer manual and the Turbo's six-speed box is easily the best yet. However, my lap times are consistently better with the more refined Tip. Although it has a manual shift option, I leave it in full auto mode, which features lightning-quick changes with virtually no interruption in drive and an almost prescient awareness of road/track conditions.
Handy at the track is the Sport Chrono Package Turbo option, which allows you to fully explore the car's performance potential with the push of a button. Key features include a dash-mounted timer that can split times to 100th of a second. Times can also be viewed, stored, compared and analyzed. The package also features a special overboost function that temporarily increases boost pressure by roughly 3 psi. Suspension variables are also retuned to match performance. Careful, though: the car can be a handful and this feature pours it on thick.
Hurley decides to swap places. He really demonstrates the car's awesome track abilities. I spend the rest of the day driving the streets and farm roads of upstate New Jersey, including several laps around the historic Watkins Glen road course, which begins in town and meanders through the neighboring lush green countryside and back. The serpentine road and its multiple elevation changes are tailor-made for the Turbo. From track star to road warrior, nothing could be more natural.
Cayenne S Titanium Edition
Porsche has released the Cayenne S Titanium Edition.
Offered specifically for the US and Canada, the new model features titanium-colored trim, exclusive exterior and interior finishes, as well as the Cayenne's most popular options as standard equipment. The exterior trim pieces, which receive a finish in this subtle metallic hue, include the roof spoiler, the frame and lower portion of the side mirrors, the front air inlets, window frames including the B- and C-pillars, door handles (with a body-color inlay), door-sill trim, and the Cayenne S logo.
Available in four distinct exterior colors, including two which are exclusive to the new model: Pure Red and Iceland Silver Metallic, the Titanium Edition will also come in Black and Marine Blue Metallic. Along with the door handle inlays, each model features body-colored rocker-panel extensions, helping frame the standard 19-inch wheels coated in a Titanium Metallic finish. Also standard are four-pipe-look chrome exhaust tips; 20-inch SportTechno wheels with titanium-color finish are optional.
The interior receives equal attention, as the cabin features an exclusive two-tone design. The instrument dials have a metallic finish, and the stainless steel door-entry guards are embossed with the Cayenne S Titanium logo.
Featuring the same 340 bhp, 4.5-liter V8 mated to the standard six-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, this edition sells for just under $65,000, roughly $7,000 over the base model.
2006 Concorso Italiano
Italian Car Crazy
You probably thought the annual Pebble Beach shindig was full of people so far up themselves that the fun of driving had all but disappeared. You may not be wrong, except for the Concorso Italiano, where-much like the country itself-it's a bit chaotic, hugely enjoyable, and there's always something beautiful to look at.
Monterey 2006 supplied much more than just the usual suspects from Modena and Sant'Agata (although there were plenty of those). Virtually every Italian marque was represented, although the theme this time was to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Pantera, 100 years of Lancia, and the 100th anniversary of the Targa Florio. And if cars weren't enough, Italian-made boats and motorcycles were also on display.
The third Friday in August always seems to attract record numbers of participants and spectators all appreciating the wonderful machinery and general relaxed air. Although the Ferrari Club of America, along with various other car clubs, holds judged competitions, almost anyone can show their car at this event. Trophies ar5e even handed out in unjudged categories.
Best in Show winner was Gerd Eckstein's fabulous 1967 Bizzarrini Strada. Various other accolades were bestowed upon various other objets d'art. It was just another reminder that Italians do things with a style and brio that no one else has. So thank the Lord that they're a nation of car nuts. www.concorso.com
Ode To A Scandinavian Classic
Happy 50th birthday to the Saab Sonett, the Swedish company's two-seater sports car. It took its name from the Swedish expression s ntt, meaning "so neat."
The Sonett I Super Sport was first unveiled at the 1956 Stockholm Auto Show, making its North American debut later that year in New York. Originally designed to compete in a racing series that never materialized, Saab only built six first-generation models-all of which are still in existence today. Utilizing the 'high-performance' (57.5 bhp) version of the three-cylinder 750cc two-stroke engine from the Saab 93, the drivetrain was 'reversed' so the engine is behind the transmission and front-wheel drive is retained. The two-stroke engine rotates in the opposite direction from the production Saab sedans of the era to accommodate this reverse transmission layout.
Aimed primarily at the North American market, the sporting intentions of 1967's Sonett II were obvious-since the race-winning Model 96 Monte Carlo two-stroke engine (with three carburetors) was specified as standard equipment. With 0-60 mph times of 12.5 seconds and a top speed approaching 100 mph, only 258 Sonett IIs with the Monte Carlo-spec engine were built during the two years of production. A subsequent, more powerful four-stroke V4 version brought more horsepower, more speed and a total of 1,868 cars built over the next three years.
Launched at the 1970 New York Auto Show, the Sonett III car was significantly different from its predecessor. The V4 engine was tuned for more horsepower to compensate for increases in size and weight. Styling-wise, it benefited from contributions by Italian designer Sergio Coggiola, featuring bolder front and rear sections plus a new interior. The new treatment included manually-operated pop-up headlights.
1974 was the final model year, bringing the production total to 10,236. The last Sonett to leave the Arlv factory was bright yellow. It is currently in the Saab Automobile factory museum in Trollhttan near Gothenburg, on Sweden's west coast. www.swedishcarday.com
Saab 9-7X Altitude
Swedish Sport-Ute With Attitude
Saab's 9-7X SUV gets a special edition for 2007, the Altitude. And only 500 of these specially-equipped vehicles will be made.
Beyond the standard equipment, the Altitude Edition includes 18-inch polished alloy wheels, side-assist steps, a rear DVD player, and carbon-fiber-gray metallic paint. The pack will be offered at savings of nearly $1,000 than if the items were ordered individually. The Altitude comes in 4.2-liter V6 or 5.3-liter V8 guises, bringing the total price (MSRP, destination charge and Altitude pack) to $42,130 and $44,130 respectively.
For 2007, OnStar-equipped 9-7X models will feature a new service called Turn-by-Turn Navigation, the first factory-installed, fully-integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar. Turn-by-Turn allows consumers to talk to a live advisor, who in turn sends complete step-by-step directions to customers' vehicles through their OnStar system. Also, a tire pressure monitoring system becomes standard and one new color, Crystal Blue metallic, has been added. www.saabusa.com
Lotus Exige 265e
British, Racing, Green
Lotus has developed a bio-ethanol E85 version of the Lotus Exige. Although a research vehicle, it's still a proper Lotus (it weighs just 2050 pounds unladen) and is called the Exige 265E. 265 indicates the approximate horsepower; the E refers to the environmentally-friendly bio-ethanol E85 fuel (85 percent ethanol alcohol and 15 percent gasoline) that powers this high performance sports car. At its heart is a slightly modified version of the 2ZZ VVTL-i supercharged and intercooled high-revving four-cylinder engine from the standard Exige S. Lotus claims some impressive figures: 0-60 mph in 3.88 seconds, 0-100 mph in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 158 mph. This could well be the world's quickest road-legal E85 bio-ethanol car. Changes have been made to the fuel system, engine calibration, and the four fuel injectors mounted on the inlet manifold have been enlarged. Two additional fuel injectors have been fitted at the supercharger inlet to increase the amount of fuel being sent into the engine under higher loads and to further cool the charge air before combustion. Different bio-fuels were considered: bio-methanol, bio-ethanol and bio-butanol. E85 bio-ethanol allowed the project engineers to enhance engine performance. Ethanol has a high octane rating, which allows an optimum timing for ignition and has a fast flame speed in the cylinder, so it burns faster, increasing engine efficiency. We love it when a plan comes together.www.grouplotus.com
Brabus North America Re-Opens Its Doors
Anyone with half an interest in European exotics knows the names Claus Ettensberger and CEC. Now, as head honcho, he has announced the reformation of Brabus NA, with headquarters in Newport Beach, California. Showrooms selling Brabus products, along with those from other CEC brands like AC Schnitzer and TechArt-from wheels to fully-modified cars-will soon open in West Los Angeles and Miami.