Porsche-Faced…

Green is good

If you’re in the market for a fiftyish thousand pound sportscar, you’d be well advised to have a good close look at the Porsche Cayman R. The reviews have been excellent. It’s a Cayman S with a bit less weight and a bit more power and seats which hold you like a teenager holds a grudge. You can have it in a silly colour with silly graphics down the side and you know that movable spoiler at the back? It no longer moves. And while we’re on the topic of stuff the R doesn’t have, that includes air-conditioning and a stereo. They’ve been removed to save weight. Unlike the GT3 RS, they’re not no-cost options. If you want the nice people at the factory to fit them into your Cayman R, you’ll have to give them some money and by ‘some’ I meant quite a lot.

I was talking to a nice bloke at the Porsche Centre in Hatfield about the Cayman R. We were talking about test driving the demonstrator and he said that they have a driving consultant who would take me out and show me what the car could do. I was a little hazy about what a driving consultant does but it sounds a lot like an instructor. Now, surely some Porsche customers would be willing to take instruction? They can’t all be know-it-all smart arses incapable of listening to someone who knows how to drive better than they do? It’s possible that they are. An instructor is just a teacher who doesn’t teach children. These people haven’t listened to a teacher since they first realised they knew everything. While they wouldn’t listen to a teacher, Porsche thinks that they might listen to a consultant. A consultant is someone who tells you what you already know and charges you £400 an hour for the privilege.

All this is confirmation, as if any were needed, that Porsche knows how to market its cars. They’re very serious cars for very serious people. My old mum would have called them ‘po-faced.’ They employ consultants or are consultants. What you see above is not a serious car, at least not in the way the Cayman is. While the Cayman R doesn’t know how to tell a joke and drinks only spa water, the car above has a store of ribald and indiscreet stories and goes on occasional whisky binges to celebrate its successes. The car above is a Morgan Plus 4 Supersports. It’s a celebration itself; 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Plus 4’s class victory at the Le Mans 24 Hour race and this year is the sixtieth anniversary of the original introduction of the Plus 4. It’s a Plus 4 with a little less weight and a little more power. There’s a theme developing here. You can have it in slightly silly colours and there are slightly silly badges and graphics.

I’m a Morgan fan. I like the cars and the culture and the fact that Charles Morgan follows me on Twitter. I also like that this wonderful thing is only the second most wonderful thing that Morgan makes. It’s a stablemate to the unutterably magnificent 3 Wheeler. It costs £49,995 before options. The Cayman R starts at £51,728 before you add the air-conditioning and stereo and you will add the air-con and music. The idea of air-conditioning in the Morgan is as silly as expecting the Queen Mum to have been a skilled unicyclist. You can have it with a hard-top and even a stereo, if you must. It’s more likely you’ll want it to come ready to race. I know I do.

New 911 Is Mid-Engined Shock!

Only joking.

This is the back of the defiantly rear engined new Porsche 911. For once, it actually is new. We have become used to additional variants of the 997 appearing seemingly every few weeks but this one really is pretty much all-new. The Carrera S pictured above has a 400bhp version of the 3.8 litre, water-cooled flat six which the 997 has been using until now. It’s a sign of how much of a tradition the 911 is that I felt I had to say that the engine is water-cooled. The vanilla Carrera uses a new downsized 3.4 litre flat six. That one’s water-cooled too. You may have been wondering. There is a new seven speed gearbox and the option of a PDK. That bears saying again. The new manual gearbox has seven forward ratios. Seven.

The wheels are further apart. The wheelbase is 100mm longer than the 997’s and front track is wider. Front and rear overhangs are shorter so the overall footprint isn’t much changed. It’s lower as well. The new chassis and body incorporate more aluminium than before and weigh up to 45kg less than before. There are various electronic bits and bobs with impressive-sounding initials and acronyms controlling the suspension.

The styling is of course an evolution of the current and really rather beautiful one. It looks like a 997 that’s spent a little too long in a soap dish. The rear is a little baroque around the badging for my taste. I’m sure that we’ll all become used to the way this one looks when it becomes part of our lives but I can’t help thinking that the 997, especially in facelifted Gen II spec going to be seen as one of the all-time greats. This one is one we’ll get used to, eventually.

Anyway, prices start at a smidge under £71,500 for the 911 Carrera. The S costs from £81,242. Equipment levels are higher than before. Sat nav is now standard, for example. The order book is open now and deliveries start in December. There will be some very happy bankers come Christmas. The rest of us will be just as happy with their trade-ins.