Since it first arrived in January of 2015, the SCM 2001 Porsche 911 Turbo has seen almost nonstop action.
Alexandra confiscated the car as soon as it was unloaded from the trailer that brought it up from Los Angeles, and I didn’t see it for a month. Then Bradley and I took it on a 400-mile trip to central Oregon. Following that, SCM contributors B. Mitchell Carlson and Paul Hardiman drove it on the Northwest Passage tour.
If I were to characterize the driving experience in one word, it would be “easy.” The Mercedes-sourced Tiptronic 5-speed automatic, reviled in some Porsche circles and hailed in others, takes the edge off the car’s performance, while at the same time making it consummately easy to live with.
In stop-and-go traffic, the Turbo is docile. It doesn’t overheat or act out.
In fact, while I was driving it the other day I wondered if I really had a Cayenne with a 911 body on it.
I reviewed the 2004 Cayenne Turbo for the New York Times when it was first released. The vehicle confused me, as I didn’t understand why someone would pay a sports-car premium for a four-door SUV. Why not just get a cheap-but-competent crossover and spend the leftover cash on a real-deal 911? Let each vehicle do what it does best, and minimize the compromises inherent in having one car for all purposes.
But my doubts proved irrelevant, and robust Cayenne sales helped Porsche weather turbulent market times.
The Turbo has its place in the SCM garage — it’s a terrific GT car, perfectly suited for covering long distances with ease, and Bradley can ride in it, in either the front or rear seat. And when I look at the car in the garage, especially with its outrageous GT3 wing, I’m always moved. It’s fast. It’s an icon. And at the end of the day, it’s a 911 — a car that’s part of Porsche racing heritage, and which has been on our roads since 1964.
But due to the Tiptronic, I’ll probably rarely drive this car in anger. It would just prefer to be used in a relaxed fashion.
Which brings me back to the Cayenne question. Maybe I’d be better off with a Cayenne as a daily driver. It would have more room and be more comfortable. I assume most Cayenne buyers use their cars for similar utilitarian purposes — not because they really intend to drive the SUV at its limits like a sports car. Have you ever heard a group of Cayenne owners talk about the twisty two-lane roads they were on last weekend?
Perhaps you can tell I’m conflicted. Should I trade in the comfortable Turbo for an even-more-comfortable Cayenne and then shop for something like a Lotus Elise to serve as my serious modern sports car weapon? Or should I just be glad I have a Porsche supercar in the garage that I enjoy on weekend trips as well as my daily commute?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.