Is a Porsche 911 still the ultimate daily sports car?
Mission one: bikes. We’re not taking it easy on this Porsche 911 just because it’s a sports car. Because it’s not a sports car, it’s the sports car, the one that can do anything and everything, that’s designed and engineered to cope, that requires no compromise.
Therefore: biking with a bunch of mates in the Brecon Beacons. Everyone else turned up at the bunkhouse in estate cars or vans. My brother and I own a pair of VW vans between us, so could have made things easier for ourselves. What was doubly daft was that both had full tanks of fuel too, whereas the Porsche had enough to get there, but not back again. Mid-fuel crisis, this mattered. But actually it didn’t because there was no way we were going to chicken out of this challenge.
With two burly, decidedly unaero bikes mounted on a SeaSucker Mini Bomber rack, I was convinced the 911 was going to gulp fuel. Kept to the motorway speed limit it did 26.8mpg. That’s a massive win. An even bigger win was finding fuel in Abergavenny. With no queue. Inside I dropped the rear seats and covered them with a sheet.
The resulting space was easily big enough for a pair of front wheels – the tightest bit was squeezing a 29er through the door aperture. Bags, helmets, shoes, cameras, booze and kit all followed. And a fan heater, because 16 blokes worth of wet bike kit takes a lot of drying. I could still see out the back window.
Porsche says there’s 264 litres of space back there (plus another 132 under the nose). I’m not sure how they measure that, but I reckon it’s way more.
Wearing bikes, it looked brilliant. Better still once wearing a layer cake of mud and grime. Aventurine green is colour that works dirty, but not clean. Too sludgey. My biggest concern was the interior. Because it’s not wipe-clean leather, but the corduroy cloth of the £6,620 Heritage Design package (I’ll tell you more about that in another report) which lifts the whole cabin, while presumably being bloody difficult to get ingrained dirt out of. I wasn’t keen on finding out how tricky.
That aside, this is a boggo Carrera. Options extend to the paint (£876), dimming mirrors with rain sensor (£387) and ParkAssist with rear camera (£464). The seats slide manually, there’s no lane keep, the wheels are the smallest available and the engine boasts less power than a new Audi RS3. Couldn’t care less. The cabin design is wonderful, so every time I climb in it feels special and expensive.
Yes, there’s a host of dynamic gizmos it doesn’t have, but having two bikes on the roof limits the risks you’re prepared to take anyway. Instead we just cruised, enjoyed the steering, the precise damping, well mannered drivetrain and ground clearance that meant we didn’t scuff on the way to our rather remote destination.
Didn’t touch the car on Friday, as we rode straight into the hills. The Canyon Spectral CF8 is the mountain biking equivalent of the Porsche 911. Well, if you assume that both do the ordinary stuff well, but really come alive when pushed. Mountain bikes are getting longer and slacker, good for stability and control heading downhill, yet this thing also climbs like a goat. However, the car analogies don’t stop there.
You know we bang on about cars getting so capable you don’t realise how fast you’re going, which means the accident, if it comes, will be monumental? See also bikes. The Canyon charges downhill with astonishing confidence, I’m just pointing it and clinging on.
My moment, when it comes, is a biggie. I’m not quite sure what happened, but suddenly I was sideways in the air, without a clue what had happened and utterly out of control. The bike saved me, simple as that. The people who witnessed it were struggling to pedal for laughing. Near miss of the weekend.
The following day we rode up Pen-y-Fan in torrential rain and wind. To do that we’d had to load the bikes on/in the cars and drive to Talybont. The riding was epic, but we looked like bedraggled sheep dogs when we got back. OK, so we’d had to do more forward planning (waterproof bags, changes of clothing, towels), but when we unpacked back at base the 911’s cabin was as clean as a whistle. That made me inordinately satisfied.
That night we went to the pub. Amazing how furiously you back pedal on those claims of space and practicality when your mates want a lift and you realise you might not be able to enjoy a pint or three. Squeezed in the back of an A4 Avant was an infinitely preferable position to the Porsche’s driver's seat as far as I was concerned.
The following day, my bro and I tootled home. The Porsche cruised quietly enough that we could chat, and when we weren’t, Apple CarPlay gave us Bob Mortimer on the Off Menu podcast. That’s a belter by the way. So welcome to the fleet boggo Porsche 911 Carrera, you came through this initiation with flying colours. Safe to assume there’ll be more missions like this over the next few months.