Porsche 911 Cabriolet por Jeremy Clarkson

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Porsche 911 Cabriolet por Jeremy Clarkson

Notapor Porschete el 20-Jul-2005, 07:22

http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,12529-1695420,00.html

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Jeremy Clarkson



July 17, 2005

Porsche 911 Cabriolet
By Jeremy Clarkson of The Sunday Times
A real corker for plonkers







When you’re out for dinner, why does the waiter invite you to taste the wine? Why doesn’t he do it himself? He’s the expert and as a general rule most customers would struggle to tell the difference between a 1945 Chateau Pétrus and a glass of Ribena.
I certainly fall into this category. I know nothing about viniculture and, having smoked half a million Marlboros, have no tastebuds either. You could pee in a glass and if it were chilled enough I’d be happy.

When I’m buying wine for home consumption I have two very simple rules designed to make sure my guests don’t spend the night driving the porcelain bus. I never spend less than £10 on a bottle, and I only buy stuff that’s French.



I’m told the Bulgarians make a decent drop these days, but I imagine that they also make a lot of rubbish. And how are you supposed to know which is which? Which will take you out with the immediacy of a poisoned umbrella and which will be like angels copulating on your tongue? Maybe wine should come with press cuttings on the label, such as you find outside a West End theatre. “An absolute corker” — Oz Clarke. “I’d rather lick a monkey’s nostril” — Jilly Goolden.

Sadly, though, this doesn’t happen, probably because wine reviewers talk in a language that nobody understands. You think torque and scuttle-shake are a dark art? I once heard Goolden say that one wine tasted like “hot handbags in a Bovril factory”. Is that a good thing? Anyway, because of this wine minefield, I always breeze past the offerings from Uruguay and Tibet and buy only French. In the same way that people who know nothing about cars only buy BMWs. There’s a sense you can’t go too far wrong.

Now, though, it seems like my simple and rather brilliant plan is to be wrecked, because Australia recently overtook France as the biggest wine supplier to Britain and the French have decided to fight back by making Aussie-style, easy-on-the-palate industrialised global plonk.

It’ll be light, crisp, refreshing and fruity. Words that people like, as opposed to earthy, heavy, Bovril and handbags, which they don’t.

It’ll be sold in bottles a little smaller than usual, for people who just want a couple of glasses after work. And the bottles, which are pinkish, will feature pictures of butterflies and buttercups to give a recognisable sense of freshness and organic harmony.



You think torque and scuttle-shake are a dark art? I once heard Goolden say that one wine tasted like “hot handbags in a Bovril factory”. Is that a good thing?

This move has traditionalists in France in a state of high dudgeon, and I’m not surprised. For them it’s the thin end of the wedge, an Anglo-Saxon free-market hammer blow to their subsidised villagy way of life. For these people, with their berets and their pre-war tractors, wine should speak of its origins and taste of the soil in which it was grown. And who cares if no one actually buys it.

I have no idea what they’re talking about, of course. If I tried a wine that tasted of soil I’d send it back straight away. But I know what they mean and they’re right. Which, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, brings me neatly to the Porsche 911.

In the olden days this was a purist’s car, as difficult to master and appreciate as a complicated claret (I apologise if that’s the wrong metaphor but like I said, I don’t know anything about wine). Racing drivers would go all dreamy when they relived drives in 911s, rejoicing in the traction and explaining how the car could be held on the very limit of adhesion with tiny, delicate movement of the controls.

It all sounded very frightening since anyone of a ham-fisted nature who attempted to emulate these heroics would almost certainly end up in a tree. The price of success was motoring nirvana. The price of failure was death.

Great, but Porsche, being free-market Saxons, wanted to change the formula. They wanted their cars to reach a wider audience and in the late Seventies began work on the front-engined, water-cooled 928, a car they thought would replace the 911. But the purists had other ideas. Not on your Nellie, they said. Change razor-edged handling for buttercups and butterflies? Get stuffed.

So the 911 was reprieved and that set the tone for Porsche today. The new Boxster, apart from a bit of jewellery like the headlamps and door handles, looks pretty much identical to the old Boxster, not because the designers are sitting on the naughty step after the hash they made of the four-wheel-drive Cayenne but because Porsche is frightened to death of fiddling with a well-proven formula.

And then there’s the new Cayman. It’s a small coupé and represented a chance for Porsche to do something wild, something radical. But they held back. So the new car is just a Boxster with a roof. It’s a first, this: a car styled by fear.

It all stems from the 911. Once something has been in production for 20 years, it would take a brave man to kill it off. When it’s been around for 40, forget it. Changing the 911 now would be like pulling down the facade of Windsor Castle and replacing it with, oh I don’t know, whatever it is that architects think we want these days.
Of course, underneath, the current 911 has almost nothing to do with the original. The engine is now water-cooled, for instance, and while it’s still in the same place, right at the back, it will no longer fling you off the road every time it sniffs some moisture in the air.

Cleverly, the talented can still take their car to heights that defy logic but the ham-fisted have nothing to fear if they make a pig’s ear of it. The 911 has become wine bar chablis. Good, accessible and profitable.



And what makes the package even more appealing is the sense that you’re in a proper driving machine, but unlike other cars of this ilk, Ferrari springs to mind here, there are no arm-waving Latin histrionics. There’s no embarrassing bellow when you put your foot down, no nose graunching on speed humps, no problem with parking and no need to get a service every time the barometer moves.

Ferraris are getting much better as everyday cars but they’re still miles and miles behind the 911, which, when all is said and done, is a Volkswagen in running shoes.

So you can buy the 911 for any number of reasons: because you’re Michael Schumacher, because you want something reliable, because you like the traditionalism of the shape, because you’ve just signed up with Manchester Rovers, or because you’re 55 years old and your wife’s just run off with the plumber.

And no one will know, as you drive along, which one of these people you are. Yes, you could be a sad old man with a paunch and a stack of girlie mags under the bed. But by the same token you could be a racing driver who sees girlie mags as nothing more than shopping catalogues. “I’ll have that one.”

Unless that is, you go for the car pictured here: the convertible. Yes, the hood is jolly well engineered, so well engineered in fact that you can push the button that slides it into a special cubbyhole in front of the engine at anything up to 30mph. But it’s not as good-looking as the hard top, and that’s just the start.

It’s also heavier, and not as rigid. So therefore no keen driver would go near such a thing with a barge pole, any more than a keen wine enthusiast would slurp from a screw-top bottle (probably).

I drove the al fresco 911 to London and felt like a complete prat, or a footballer, which amounts to the same thing. Which is why I didn’t mind too much when one hour later a lorry ran into it and it was taken away on the back of a tow truck.

The hard-top 911 is a triumph of engineering, marketing and style. The soft-top 911 is not.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
Engine Six-cylinder, 3824cc
Power 355hp @ 6600rpm
Torque 295 lb ft @ 4600rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Fuel 24.4mpg (combined)
CO2 280g/km
Acceleration 0-62mph: 4.9sec
Top speed 182mph
Price £72,230
Verdict Porsche’s vintage sports car has finally corked
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