Normally when I hear World Tour I think of a rock star taking it to the streets, so when I was invited to the Porsche World Road Tour event, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
The World Roadshow Tour was started 11 years ago as a means for Porsche to connect with potential customers around the world. There are 3 road fleets that rotate around the globe doing up to 20 shows in total. Our road tour group, one of 2 equipped with left hand drive vehicles, had traveled from Korea and was on its way to Guatemala after our event. The program entertains about 5,000 participants per year, all by invitation and at no cost to participants. This was the only stop in Canada for the year.
The Canadian stop included 17 cars set up at Mosport Race Track. The collection consisted of the 2010 Cayman and Boxsters in both regular and S package trims, equipped with both PDK and manual 6 speed transmissions, as well as 2009 911 Carrera’s, Carrera S, Carrera 4S, Carrera Turbos and Cayenne GTS and Turbo models. Heck even a GT2 model was sitting out in front of the main tent complex when we arrived.
The Porsche crew included 3 factory based and 2 local driving instructors, not to mention some product specialists, yes the same ones that occasionally grace the auto-show stands. Part of the event is to explain all the different ways one could personalize your Porsche from the factory. In fact one company rep said that given the innumerable combinations available, virtually no 2 Porsches have ever come off the line as identical vehicles. Several of the customizable options are at no cost, such as not having the model of the car stuck to the back or perhaps you want it there but in the same colour as the vehicle instead of chrome. Little details like that are impressive in today’s world of mass produced clutter.
Our day at the track begins with a classroom primer of track etiquette and rules of the road show. Once our group headed out to the track, our first task was a normally boring game of follow the leader. The on track instructor leading the pack, not only feeds you instructions via radio but also little facts about the cars. All realistically designed to bring you closer to putting one in your driveway, well at least assuming you have the financial resources to afford one.
Chasing a European carting champion around a racetrack in the latest 911’s and Caymans turned out to anything but normal. This came with an extra dose of adrenaline. The ability to push these vehicles somewhat closer to their limits was a thrill.
To be able experience the nuances of each variation of vehicle was a unique experience and one I am constantly bemoaning when given such a glorious vehicle to drive under regular road conditions.
Here at Mosport, the performance advantage of a Carrera 4S versus a regular Carrera is apparent as you crest the section track coming into turn 2 and following down into the bowl leading to turn 3.
Another task set up at the event was an acceleration and braking exercise behind the wheel of the 911 Turbo equipped with the Sport Chrono package and ceramic brake upgrade, a fearsome vehicle producing 480 HP and up to 505 lb-ft of torque. Our instructor calmly tells us that the vehicle will accelerate to 100 km/hr in 3.8 seconds and will brake from that speed in 2.5 seconds. Sounds great on paper, quite spectacular in real life! Oh, one other thing, braking from that speed also required you to avoid a number of cones and a real live person at the end of the exercise by steering through a tight chicane at the end.
For the many fans of the Cayenne, fear not. The organizers were pleased to add a GTS model to the group of coupes thrashing around the track as well as a Cayenne dedicated off-road exercise on the scenic infield area at Mosport. If you have attended any of the events at the track, you are likely aware that the large rustic park like setting within the racing area, which serves as a camp ground during races Accessing some of these areas can be tricky.
The many electronic and pneumatic features of the Cayenne were put to good use getting the 2.5-ton vehicle up and down sandy, grassy or muddy hills and trails scattered about the infield area. One feature that I have never used on a regular road test was the air suspension adjustment called PASM, Porsche Active Suspension Management. Everything seems to have an acronym nowadays. This allows the Cayenne to be raised up for extra road clearance, we just left ours in the highest setting to traverse some dry creek beds that tested the rigidity of the chassis and displayed how adept the Porsche SUV really was off-road. As impressive as the Cayenne was in the wilderness, the fact that with a simple flick of the wrist on the PASM’s lever, the suspension lowers itself to a more aggressive stance providing a lower centre of gravity for track use. As mentioned earlier, we also had a Cayenne GTS on the track pursuit exercise.
The feeling of chasing down a 911 or Cayman in a Cayenne is one of those surreal experiences that you really don’t encounter that often, at least without any legal ramifications.
The day ended with the guests being treated to “hot” laps around the track as passengers in some of the cars piloted by the professional drivers. A few fortunate souls even managed to draw a ride in the GT2.
To sum up the experience, this is one of the most potent marketing tools still being utilized in the new world economy. Think of all the millions or billions of dollars being spent on upper level racing in order to establish a brand image. For most people that image remains virtual. Within the Porsche World Road Show, those dreams come to life and in a vivid manner that still has me tingling. I highly recommend it!