Porsche has opted for a unique way to debut the two new cars that recently joined its stable, the Panamera Turbo and the Cayman GT4 Clubsport — a media-only driving academy at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC). After all, is there any better way to showcase the raw power and energy of these models than to have them tested out on a professional circuit?
Launched in 2015, this driving programme allows members of the press to experience the maximum performance of Porsche cars through consecutive courses designed to sharpen driving skills in a safe environment with world-class instructors.
Apart from guided drives on the circuit, the instructors also walked us through the car’s braking systems and handling as well as Porsche’s various electronic driving aids for use on and off the track.
Following his win in the Porsche 919 Hybrid at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans — the world’s longest running endurance race — New Zealand-born racer Earl Bamber was on the track as well, leading the drives and providing valuable input. In 2014, Bamber won the Porsche Motorsport International Cup Scholarship, one of the most wide-ranging and thorough youth development schemes in the automotive industry. He continues to race for the German marque in GT3 races as well as Le Mans.
There were 13 cars parked on the circuit, including but not limited to the Macan GTS, 718 Boxster, 911 Targa 4S and the Cayenne Turbo. The stars of the day were undoubtedly the new Panamera and the Cayman GT4 Clubsport, which some journalists from Southeast Asia were driving for the first time. Spoiler alert: There is no faulting either car on its promise of speed, style or comfort; the driving experience of each car is simply unparalleled.
The Panamera Turbo reconciles two contrasting worlds more than ever before by offering both the performance of a sports car and the comfort of a luxury saloon. Systematically improved down to the very last detail, this new model is steadily advancing to become a performance icon in the luxury saloon class. Its engine and transmission have been developed from the ground up, its chassis perfected and its interior redesigned for the future.
Porsche engineers have developed a modular high-tech generation of V8 engines whose technical architecture brings parameters such as low fuel consumption and low emissions into harmony with high power and torque figures.
The top-of-the-line Panamera Turbo features a twin-turbo V8 engine with twin-scroll turbochargers and VarioCam Plus. Its 4.0-litre engine develops between 5,750 and 6,000 rpm and reaches a peak power of 404 kW (550 hp). The eight-cylinder power source accelerates the Panamera Turbo from standstill to 100kph in 3.8 seconds and is capable of a top speed of 306kph.
These extraordinary performance figures stand in contrast to an improvement of up to 1.1 litres per 100km in its combined fuel consumption of 9.4 to 9.3l/100km (New European Driving Cycle). This equates to CO2 emissions of 214 to 212g/km.
The pre-launch drive in the Panamera was the easy part of the day, however. Once we were all accustomed to the speed required on the snaking asphalt circuit of the SIC, we were tasked with tackling the adrenalin-pumping action of the Cayman GT4 Clubsport — a near-standard racing version of the car specially developed by Porsche Motorsport. It closes the gap between road-legal cars and the GT3 Cup, which used to be the entry-level Porsche racing car.
With a lower driving requirement and reduced maintenance cost, the Cayman GT4 Clubsport is targeted at amateur and young drivers as well as those eager to get a start in racing.
The Cayman GT4 Clubsport is bound to the tradition that Porsche has cultivated since day one — a restatement of everything that distinguishes Porsche as a brand and a reinforcement of its strong motorsport heritage. Powered by a 3.8-litre flat-six engine, the car features Porsche’s double-clutch transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel and a mechanical rear-axle locking differential.
The spring-strut front suspension is taken from its larger 911 GT3 Cup brother, which competes in Porsche’s 20 one-make championships around the world. Tipping the scales at just 1,300kg, the Cayman GT4 Clubsport, equipped with a racing bucket seat and a six-point harness, is truly lightweight and track-legal in Malaysia.
Occasionally, Porsche also organises similar events for members of the public to experience selected cars at Sepang. Truly, there is no other way to fully appreciate the intrinsic nature of these beasts and the values of speed, style and sex appeal that each and every Porsche stands for.