2008 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet
Driving At 300km/H Brings Out The Lizard
*Control's voice jacks into my inner ear: "Three hundred kilometers per hour is an artificial goal. The measure of distance over time is a hollow construct, a distant echo of larger, more crucial dimensions." Not now! I silently shout. I've just flogged the 911 Turbo Cabriolet past 250 km/h and, as the speedo continues to sweep toward the car's 310km/h top speed, Control intones again. "The perilous path leads to truth only when the goal is ignored."
Get out of my head. But Control continues its harangue, making my auditory nerve feel like a wolverine is gnawing at it. "There is nothing to be learned at 300 km/h that cannot be learned at a slower, more balanced state."
Control's dime-store philosophizing makes some sense-if I wasn't hammering a brand-new, audaciously red 911 Turbo Cabriolet down the left lane of the autobahn, heading southwest into the wine country of the Rhine valley while armadas of cloud cruise azure skies and fields of wheat wave budded crowns in the warm breeze.
Fortunately, I'd long ago armed myself against Control's blather and can blow away its (I hate to admit) well-conceived arguments for moderation. This clears the way for Lizard, the most elemental and beloved of my partners in thought and deed. Lizard's governance may be basic compared to Control's, but Lizard has an advantage. It makes me feel good; Control makes me feel bad. And since I'm a knee-jerk animal of sybaritic tastes, I have no problem deciding which of the two gets to stay in my head.
When I'm driving, for instance, it's as though Lizard has created a nerve path to my right foot that feels similar in structure and effect to the bundles of axons that make erectile tissue that most agreeable of tissues. Lizard is also the part of the brain that caused German authorities to allow unlimited top speeds on the autobahn. Lizard determines too whether particular g-forces are pleasurable or signify a threat, and which mechanical noises are soothing or disruptive.
So, Lizard has certain freedoms of action, but Control is never far away, hanging around (I'm often reminded) as "a safety net in case your sorry ass is about to fall off a cliff." I've never found out if those words are metaphorical or not. And, if so, whether they would extend to 310 km/h. So I back off just as the speedo tickles 300. "Did you find truth?" needles Control. This time I mutter out loud: "Shut up." And Lizard hisses: "Fassster, fassster..."
OK, the difference between 186 and 192 mph is rather insignificant. Either speed is silly when sharing the road with mere mortals and I'd already learned, after an hour behind the wheel, how absolutely wonderful Porsche's drop-top Turbo is at sane speeds. It's just that Lizard loves an open autobahn and never resists the lure of setting a new personal-best top speed. Neither do I. For now, Lizard seems satisfied with 186 mph.
Full disclosure: I've had a long and passionate love affair with the 911 and, though we've had our ups and downs, I still feel like a honeymooner when I climb into one and suffer desire for no other car. Every tactile and cerebral sensation is stimulated, yet I never feel overwhelmed by its performance. Like a perfect partner in the carnal arts, the 911 seems to amplify my skills while also forgiving my, pardon the expression, shortcomings.
The Turbo is not only the pinnacle of the 911 line-up, it's also the world's most affordable supercar. Even $136,500 seems reasonable when its fun factor is compared to the Lamborghini LP640 Roadster and Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR convertible. In those cars, I always hope I don't do something wrong; in the Turbo, I enjoy all the things I'm doing right. High speed is a small part of a sports car's appeal, but the Porsche obliterates the difference between here and there with such ease that it makes those who drive it, even those with Lizards in their heads, feel they're in total Control.
2008 Porsche 911Turbo Cabriolet
Longitudinal rear engine, all-wheel drive
3.6-liter flat six, dohc, 32-valve
F: Independent, MacPherson-type coil spring/strutR: Independent, five control arms, coil spring/strut
Six-piston 13.78-inch cross-drilled internally vented monobloc calipers
Length x Width x Height (in.):175.2 x 72.9 x 51.2Wheelbase: 92.5 in.Curb Weight: 3726 lb
Peak Power: 480 hp @ 6000 rpmPeak Torque: 457 to 501 lb-ft @ 1950 rpm0-62 mph: 4.0 sec.Top Speed: 192 mph
*Why we love it: Time-bending power, easy to drive fast
*Why we don't: The extra weight
The price tag: $136,500