Text: Benj Ngo / Photos: Brent Co and Benj Ngo | posted November 15, 2006 00:00
Porsche World Roadshow 2006
The event started with breakfast and briefing at the expo grounds in the Clark Special Economic Zone. The venue provided the perfect backdrop to unleashing the most out of all 19 of the Porsche models available. Our high performance driving instructors from Porsche Leipzig GmbH were introduced and the roadshow was kicked off with a short demonstration on proper driving position. With the way participants were going to be pushing the cars, it was imperative that each driver had a proper and comfortable seating position to minimize fatigue and ensure safety at all times. The participants were then divided into separate groups to continue on with the activities.
The activities for the day were composed of the Braking Exercise, Road Tour, Understeer/Oversteer, Off-Road Test, and finally the Slalom. The timed Slalom session was the only competition part of the activities, where the Best Time acheived through the course received an award.
First up for the author's group was a braking test using a 997 Carrera S with the optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system. In a nutshell, the PCCB system offers a multitude of advantages including having an extremely long lifespan, being resistant to fractures, and being lighter than most braking systems out there. Porsche guarantees virtually fade free braking despite repeated hard use. This was one feature we were all eager to test out. The test required drivers to accelerate at a standstill to around 85kmh. After passing the first set of cones, the driver is then required to step on the brakes as hard as possible while steering the car to either the left or right (depending on where a flagman 100ft away points to). Nobody had any problems with this test as the brakes just performed at their absolute best. There was no locking and very little pylons hit. In fact the drivers had a harder time with the flagman than they did with the brakes! After several runs we were surprised to find out that the brakes still performed like new. Even the Michelin tires seemed up to the task of dealing with the "abuse" we were dishing out.
The next event was the Road Tour, by far the most anticipated part for most people. The participants were each given a choice of among 8 cars to drive around the back roads of Clark. Virtually all cars from the Porsche lineup were represented including a well modified red 997 Carrera S with an engine upgrade to 380bhp, tuned suspension, and additional aerodynamic aids, a Carrera 4, Cayman S, Boxster S, a modified 500-horsepower Cayenne Turbo, and even one of the newest Porsche cars the Carrera Targa 4S. The roads of the Clark proved to be an ideal backdrop to exploit all of the Porsche's strengths, including acceleration, braking, and cornering. Surprisingly all the cars felt very comfortable on the road, further cementing Porsche's idea that a supercar need not just be for the track, but for city driving as well.
After the 50 minute road test came the understeer/oversteer portion. Using a Carrera S, this part of the event was basically setup to demonstrate the effects of Porsche Stability Management (PSM) on understeer and oversteer. With the PSM on, understeer seemed to be corrected slightly, with the driver feeling minute movements on the steering wheel as indication that the PSM was doing its job. The instructors tried very hard to induce an oversteer in the car without using a handbrake but apparently the tires Michelin provided were too grippy and the tail would not slide out. As a result the instructors had to rely on pulling the handbrake in the middle of a 60+ kmh turn. With the PSM on, it took quite a few pulls of the handbrake to spin the car out. But with the system off, just one pull was needed to induce a spin. This proved the effectiveness of the PSM, not just in cornering but also in possible emergency situations.
After a short but satisfying lunch break, it was off to a lahar filled wasteland for the Cayenne offroad test. The three different versions of Cayenne were represented including the base V6, the Cayenne S with the V8 engine, and the Cayenne Turbo with a turbo V8.
This particular test did not require lots of power, it took a bit of finesse to drive around the course, not to mention the assist provided by the different offroad mechanisms in the Porsches such as the height adjustment, Porsche reduction (low range), and the hill descent control. Tests devised for this portion include ascending and descending on extremely steep slopes (sometimes with one rear wheel in the air), going through muddy waters, and navigating through deep crater sized rocks. Despite the occasional scrapes on the underchassis, all the vehicles proved more than capable to tackle the obstacles.
The final test of the day would be a culmination and sort of summary of the Porsche driving experience: a timed slalom course in the Cayman S. Participants were each given 3 laps (including one un-timed practice lap) to try and get the best time that they could. To do this they had to master all aspects of the car including acceleration, braking, cornering, and even understeering/oversteering. Prizes awaited the best times from each batch. This event was where the cars really shined, proving their seriousness as performance machines. This portion was also where participants could experience the total package that is a Porsche: speed, power, control, and balance.
Only a handful of people got to go home with awards, but this event was not about trophies; it was about having fun. It was about going through a once in a lifetime experience, and it was about finding out what makes a Porsche one of the best sports cars in the world. Participants went home with big smiles on their faces, and I would surmise that each individual had a newfound desire for the automobile. This is what a Porsche does, over and beyond the performance figures, it rekindles man's passion with everything automotive.