Friday, 25 November 2011

The New, New 911

Here's Evo's Chris Harris spilling the beans on the new Porsche 911.

Its the first real 'new' 911 since 1997. So it had better be good, as we've got to live with the basic car for the next decade or more.

Luckily, first signs are good, even though there are the usual internet complaints about dumbing down/making it softer/being too conservative. Really, who'd be Porsche's chief designer?

My worry (electric steering system aside) is that while the new mostly-aluminium body is 40kg or so lighter that the 997, a good chunk more could have been saved by using the old 6 speed transmission. That was quoted as being 25kgs lighter than the PDK 'box, and its difficult to see the same saving now the manual gearbox uses the PDK's castings. Is a 7th ratio really needed when almost all of the world's roads are limited to 70-80mph?

Its also been interesting to read the comments about pricing. There is an oftly expressed view that a good £10k worth of options are 'essential' for re-sale, and that the only version worth bothering with is the £81,500, 3.8litre 'S'. So you very quickly end up with the grand total on the website's configurator heading towards £100,000.

I beg to differ.

A ‘vanilla’ 3.4 has 350bhp and does 180mph. It comes with leather, climate, sat nav, Bi-Xenons, start/stop, 7 speed ‘box, 19”s, 235watts of stereo (with 9 speakers and aux input), alcantara roof lining, and electric windows. That's pretty much what I have on my 5 year old Golf, and the previous owner ticked every box on the form when he ordered that one. The baby 911 doesn't get taxed at the highest rates for VED, and you now get 36 months worth of Porsche warranty.

I can see how its easy to get seduced by the options list; I might add £1100 of PASM, £400 of rear Park Assist and a £150 Sports steering wheel. But I wouldn’t be that bothered.

However a look at options prices quickly reveals why Porsche is still most profitable car maker on the planet - and my views on the subject haven't changed since I sat down and specified my Cayman back in 2006.

For example, to paint the bloody thing in a metallic colour is £800. Total cost to Porsche ~€50.

To take away the complex, expensive stainless steel exhaust system and replace it with a complex, expensive stainless steel exhaust system that’s a bit louder and has a valve, switch, bit of wiring and software tweaks costs you £1800. Cost to Porsche? Must be €75 tops. Black wheels are £950, electric sports seats are £3,800, a window in the roof is £1200, some bits of useless carbon trim £1100, and they want £3k for their top of the line stereo.

So while loading the car with complex (and expensive) options might give you bragging rights on the forum I really think the pauper's version will be enough for the UK's roads.

In fact on the smaller 18" wheels it might even be the sweetest driving of all the 991 variants .


Monday, 21 November 2011

Give Way - Biker

You see a different side of car drivers on a bike.
Like any other road user, my daily encounters run through the whole spectrum from Redbull’d yoof in a slammed French hatchback, through to the octogenarian gently succumbing to old age at a ‘T’ junction behind the wheel of their Ford Fusion.

On a bike, when most other road users have the potential to do you serious injury, looking for little warning signs becomes both second nature and something you pay plenty of attention to. There’s usually something about the ‘body’ language of the car that indicates dangerous aggression or a distracted driver, and I can usually spot the signs telling me who to be wary of.

Does that car I’ve just encountered on a fast ‘A’ road see my fast approach as throwing down the gauntlet, or will they……..oh hang on a moment, they’ve just driven into the gutter to let me go past.
That’s another one.

Its a trend I've noticed more and more recently, in fact I've followed cars that have hit the kerb in their haste to let me slide past. At the weekend almost every car I approached clocked my presence and very clearly moved aside to let me pass. It didn’t seem to matter if it was on 'A' roads, through towns, or on heavily trafficked roads with double white lines. In fact the main problem was that if it's ok with you, I'd like to decide when I overtake or not, but thanks anyway.

And no, I don’t mono-wheel up to their rear bumper at 150mph on open pipes and putting the fear of God into the poor little mites. Nor does my bike have ‘Polite’ signs and dayglo stickers – although it is a physically big old thing.

Is it me, or has something happened?