Fisker Karma to be built alongside Porsche

July 18th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The incredibly gorgeous Fisker Karma plug-in electric vehicle has found a home for production in the Valmet factory in Finland where the Karma will be built alongside Porsche Caymans and Boxsters.

The prospect of having the Karma built in a plant that already produces high quality cars is a good omen. Fisker says the Karma will have a range of up to 580km, a top speed of 210 Km/h, and a 0-100 time of about 5.8 seconds making it a very quick electric car.

Can’t wait till it arrives which is touted to be toward the end of 2009 sometime.

Hamann Stallion Porsche 911

July 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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As if the Porsche 911 Turbo wasn’t fast enough, Hamann has come along and given the 911 some more angry pills.

The Hamann Stallion is a wild beast of a 911 that has been boosted from the factory spec 450bhp to a whopping 630bhp by the fitment of a larger variable vane turbocharger, exhaust, ECU and induction upgrades.

Those who appreciate ‘show’ over ‘go’ won’t really care about the specs though, they’ll be too busy looking at the ‘scissor’ style doors.

New Zealand’s Ryan Millen set to follow in his father’s footsteps in the Trans Siberian Rally

July 1st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The Porsche contingent for the 2008 “Transsyberia Rally powered by Sony Ericcson” is complete. On 11 July 2008, twenty Cayenne S Transsyberia will set off on a long journey of over 7,000 kilometres from Red Square in Moscow to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. Porsche pilots are up against experienced marathon rally teams who have also set their sights on victory with vehicles from Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Puch, Suzuki and Toyota.

Last year’s winner, New Zealand’s Rod Millen of Team USA will not return to defend his victory. Instead, he sends his son Ryan Millen with co-pilot Colin Godby to compete in a Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia. The two youngsters are a well-rehearsed team and have contested numerous desert rallies together in the USA. Last year’s second placed pairing, the experienced rally pilot Antonio Tognana and professional co-driver Carlo Cassina, return to the Transsyberia Rally. Team Italia places its trust in the Cayenne, which has received improvements in many areas compared to its predecessor. Adel Abdulla (Qatar), who can look back on 17 years of rally experience, and his Italian co-pilot Norbert Lutteri aim to climb to the top of the podium. In 2007 the squad from Porsche Centre Doha secured third.

Numerous other Porsche teams also hold good chances for a win. Germany’s Lars Kern and his Czech co-driver Daniel van Kan claimed fourth last year in a Suzuki and now compete for the Hock Racing team in a Cayenne S Transsyberia. After finishing fifth last year, Pau Soler and his female co-driver Laia Peinado from Team Spain are also eager to secure a podium result.

Another favourite for the winner’s trophy is former European rally champion Armin Schwarz and double Dakar winner Andi Schulz driving for Team Germany. In 2007, Schwarz held the lead for a long period before rolling four times at high speed. Although uninjured, Schwarz was not able to continue. Sebring legend Kees Nierop and Laurence Yap from Team Canada were also involved in a spectacular accident at last year’s Transsyberia Rally and now have a score to settle in the Mongolian desert.

Also belonging to the large circle of favourites are Pharaoh Rally winner Saeed Al Hajri and Tim Trenker entered by Team Porsche Middle East as well as the Team Germany 2 with Spanish offroad specialists Carles Celma and his Dakar-experienced German co-driver Wolf-Hendrik Unger. Team France and Porsche Cars Great Britain have also signed on prominent pilots for the race. Professional race driver Christian Lavieille, winner of the 2001 Trophee Andros and the former co-pilot of Jean-Louis Schlesser at the Dakar Rally, Francois Borsotto, contest the Transsyberia Rally for the first time. Between them they have a wealth of offroad experience. The British Group N world rally champion Martin Rowe and his co-pilot Richard Tuthill will also attempt to utilise the full potential of the 385 hp Cayenne S Transsyberia.

During the rally a Porsche service team will assist the teams racing a Cayenne S Transsyberia with maintenance and repairs.

Partnering Porsche’s involvement for the first time this year is the C. & A. Veltins brewery. Already active as a team sponsor in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, the premium brand will utilise the rally by means of a comprehensive communication package and host an exclusive customer event at the start in Moscow. With an output of 2.64 million hectolitres, the brewery is one of the largest in the industry. Mobil1 and BFGoodrich team up as Porsche partners at the Transsyberia. Like last year, all Cayenne teams place their trust in Mobil1 lubricants. BFGoodrich supply special offroad tyres, which increase the ground clearance by 30 millimetres compared to last year through higher flanks.

You can follow the Transsyberia Rally from the participant’s perspective in a daily photo blog at www.transsyberia-rallye.com. The teams will capture their personal impressions and experiences with the new water and dust proofed Sony Ericsson C702 Cyber-Shot Cellphone.

Porsche teams at the 2008 Transsyberia Rally

Driver, Co-driver, Team

Ryan Millen, Colin Godby, Team USA
Kees Nierop, Laurence Yap, Team Canada
Horst Eckert, Armin Zwilling, Hock Racing 1
Lars Kern, Daniel van Kan, Hock Racing 2
Martin Rowe, Richard Tuthill, Porsche Cars Great Britain
Yoshifumi Ogawa, Hirohisa Kaneko, Porsche Japan
Antonio Tognana, Carlo Cassina, Porsche Italia
Christain Lavieille, François Borsotto, Team France
Pau Soler, Laia Peinado, Spanish Team
Pedro Gameiro, Pedro Figueiredo, Portuguese Team
David Morley, Paul Watson, Team Unfinished Business
Adel Abdula, Norbert Lutteri, Porsche Centre Doha
Said Rashid Al Hajri, Tim Trenker, Porsche Middle East
Christian Pfeil-Schneider, Tommy Steuer, Team Colombian Arrow
Denis Levyatov, Sergey Talentsev, Porsche Russia Team 1
Sergey Kvashnin, Alex Pavlovsky, Porsche Russia Team 2
Fedor Fedorov, Mikhail Bardashov, INTEKO
Luo Ding, Eddi Keng, Team Porsche China
Armin Schwarz, Andi Schulz, Team Germany 1
Carles Celma, Wolf-Hendrik Unger, Team Germany

Porsche releases details on new 911 Carrera 4

June 26th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Porsche continues the change of the 911 model series with the announcement of all-wheel-drive versions of the next generation of its iconic sports car. The new 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S will enter the market in both Coupe and Cabriolet guise, and offer a wide range of innovative engine, transmission and drivetrain technologies providing higher standard of driving dynamics combined with much lower fuel consumption.

Porsche Traction Management (PTM)
In the new generation 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S, the all-wheel drive is now provided via electronically-controlled Porsche Traction Management (PTM), which replaces the former all-wheel drive with its viscous multiple-plate clutch. The superior PTM system was first developed for the 911 Turbo and has been modified for the Carrera models. The transmission delivers an even higher level of driving stability, traction and agility, further enhanced by the mechanical limited slip differential now fitted as standard to the rear axle.

PTM feeds exactly the right amount of engine torque in each situation through an electronically-controlled multiple-plate clutch to the front wheels, supplementing the flow of power to the rear wheels. Combined with the highly dynamic PTM control system, this clutch precisely delivers a distribution of power and torque to the front and rear axles as road and driving conditions change. With the previous viscous clutch, up to 40 per cent of torque could be directed to the front axle. The new electronically-controlled PTM system delivers an infinitely variable torque split, and is able to distribute up to 100 per cent of traction to the front or rear wheels.

PTM provides a faster and more precise transmission of power in all driving situations, and this offers not only excellent stability at high speeds, but also increases further the level of responsiveness of the car to the driver.

New engines with Direct Fuel Injection (DFI)
The 911 Carrera 4 models share their all-new flat-six engines with Direct Fuel Injection (DFI) with the two-wheel drive Carrera 2 and Carrera 2S. Depending on the model, the all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera offers up to 8.5 per cent more power, fuel economy improved by up to 12.9 per cent, and 15.4 per cent lower CO2 emissions than the previous generation. Specifically, output of the 3.6-litre power unit is up by 20bhp to 345 bhp (254 kW). At the same time, a Carrera 4 Coupe with PDK transmission, to take just one example, offers fuel consumption of 10.1 l/100 km.

The improvements on the 911 Carrera 4S with its 3.8-litre power unit are equally significant, with maximum output up by 30bhp to 385 bhp (283 kW) and overall fuel consumption down in the case of the Carrera 4S Cabriolet with PDK to 10.7 litres/100 km.

The driver benefits from a further advantage of direct injection every time he touches the throttle pedal: with fuel being injected fractions of a second prior to combustion, the engines respond more directly and spontaneously to even the slightest movement of the driver’s right foot. This is not only the case when accelerating, but also when lifting off the throttle, for engine speed drops more quickly and smoothly since there is no residual fuel left in the intake manifold which might otherwise prolong the combustion process.

Depending on engine load and speed, fuel is injected into the combustion chamber at a pressure of 120 bar. The big advantage is that unlike conventional intake manifold injection, direct fuel injection serves to form the fuel/air mixture directly in the combustion chamber. This better mixes the air and fuel in the cylinder, establishing an important prerequisite for clean and complete combustion. This ensures the ‘homogeneous’ operation of the power unit with a consistent balance of the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber at all times and under all running conditions. Such smooth operation guarantees optimum combustion and maintains low emissions, across a range of fuel qualities.

Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK)
The new generation 911 Carrera 4 and 4S are available for the first time with the new Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK), literally Porsche double-clutch gearbox. Offering no less than seven forward gears, the new gearbox combines the driving comfort of a torque converter-equipped automatic transmission with the dynamic manual gearshift functionality of a sequential racing gearbox. PDK also boasts an entirely automatic gearshift function, and replaces the Porsche Tiptronic S automatic transmission previously offered. Through its optimised and adaptive gearshift programmes, PDK further improves the acceleration of the 911 and reduces fuel consumption to an even lower level.

In principle, the PDK consists of a conventional manual gearbox and a hydraulic control system divided into two separate transmission units. Two wet clutches in radial arrangement, controlled hydraulically, and using oil for both cooling and lubrication, form the heart of the transmission. One clutch is for the first transmission unit with the uneven gear ratios (1,3,5,7) and reverse, and the other clutch is for the second transmission unit with the even gears (2,4,6). Via a number of pressure valves, the hydraulic control unit masterminds both the wet clutches and the shift cylinders activating the transmission ratio required.

The gearshift perceived by the driver comes not from the gears actually changing, but from the change of positive clutch engagement. In this case, the clutch on one transmission opens or disengages while the clutch on the other transmission closes or engages in a simultaneous process. The big advantage is an even faster gearshift than with a conventional manual gearbox or torque converter automatic transmission. The gears are already ‘in mesh’ when shifting and the power of the engine need not be interrupted in the process.

PDK also reduces to a minimum transmission power loss courtesy of the high standard of mechanical efficiency in the double-clutch, and this manifests itself in fuel economy improvements of approximately 13 per cent compared with a conventional Tiptronic S transmission. PDK also offers an advantage in terms of weight — despite two additional gears, it weighs 10kg less than Tiptronic S.

To use the various functions of the double-clutch transmission, the driver can either shift gears by means of sliding toggles on the spokes of the new steering wheel, or via the new gear selector lever. The driver can press forwards to shift the gears up, and press them from behind to shift downwards. Alternatively, pushing the gear selector lever forwards shifts up a gear, and pulling it back shifts down.

This PDK gearshift principle was first developed by Porsche for motor sport 25 years ago. Porsche works drivers benefiting from this technology were able to accelerate faster than their competitors and keep both hands on the steering wheel while changing gears, thus avoiding even the slightest distraction while shifting.

The seven-speed PDK shifts gears up to 60 per cent faster than a conventional automatic transmission, and naturally, gives the new 911 Carrera models even better performance. And those in search of optimum driving dynamics have the option to combine PDK with Sport Chrono Package Plus, now featuring Launch Control.

Porsche enters Trans-Siberian Rallye

June 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Porsche Cars Great Britain will enter the gruelling Rallye Trans-Siberia in 2008. This is the second year that a UK team will participate in the event with the Cayenne S ‘Trans-Siberia’. The car will begin this extraordinary journey from Red Square in Moscow on July 11, and drive over 4347 miles, crossing the Ural, the Altai Mountains and passing the Gobi desert to finish in Ulaanbaatar — the capital city of Mongolia — on July 25.

The Porsche Cars Great Britain Cayenne S Trans-Siberia was the first to reach Mongolia in 2007, and to build on this record, the UK will be represented by professional rally driver, Martin Rowe, who will be joined by fellow rally driver and automotive engineer, Richard Tuthill, as co-driver and navigator.

Over the course of the Rallye, teams will drive on both tarmac and gravel surfaces, as well as sand and rugged off-road terrain, while the weather will also present tremendous challenge with every likelihood of flooded river crossings, high-altitude snow blizzards and scorching sand storms.

The sheer variety of terrain and climate that drivers will experience during the Rallye presents a formidable test and, in response to this, Porsche has further developed the special Trans-Siberia version of the Cayenne S. The upgrade for 2008 is mainly concentrated upon improving the off-road capabilities and optimising the suspension set-up. This includes an even stronger sump—guard, and front and rear panel modifications to allow a larger approach and departure angle when driving up and down slopes. The Cayenne S Trans-Siberia is also now fitted with new specification off-road tyres — BFGoodrich 265/65 R18.

Under the skin, the driver-oriented chassis of the Porsche Cayenne has been designed to combine sports car handling on the road with the added versatility of extreme agility off-road. The engine features direct petrol injection to provide more power and performance on less fuel, cutting petrol consumption by up to 15 per cent. Another highlight is Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) featuring two active anti-­roll bars to almost completely eliminate body roll when cornering. The PDCC also delivers maximum axle articulation when driving off-road, serving to further improve the already superior traction offered by the electronically-controlled Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive transmission.
The Porsche Cayenne S Trans-Siberia model epitomises this breadth of ability. Built in a small series, each car comes with a variety of modifications including those specific all-terrain tyres, a safety roll cage, a shorter transmission final drive ratio, a transverse differential lock, a larger reinforced under-body protection, and strengthened track control arms on the front axle. At 385bhp (283kW), output of the 4.8-litre eight-cylinder petrol engine re­mains unchanged.

In total, more than 35 teams from 22 nations will be competing for the coveted prize of being the fastest to reach the chequered flag in Mongolia.

Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet (997) (2005) Review

April 12th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet 997 2005 fq

I once stuck my head out of the side of a 1929 taildragger aeroplane while flying over the Coromandel Peninsula just to see what it would have felt like for World War One fighter aces and I can confirm that there’s a speed at which the utopian ‘wind in your hair’ becomes a smidgen uncomfortable. Of course, in the War the Red Baron would have had a helmet of the finest cowhide and goggles; all I had was a pair of sunnies and a reckless curiosity.

The Red Baron would have never believed that half a decade later, in 1963, his countrymen would conceive the 911 with an engine at the wrong end. This is the drop-top iteration (with a few of the option boxes ticked). While the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet isn’t the world’s fastest convertible, it’s certainly capable of getting to a speed where you’d be worried that your little follicles would be hanging on for dear life. In fact it will top out at 285kph, a good 100kph faster than the Baron’s Fokker DR 1 triplane, but 100kph slower than the car that holds the ‘world’s fastest convertible’ mantle, the 9ff-tuned 997 Turbo Cabriolet that produces 910bhp.

But I digress: this 911 reaches 100kph in 5.2s. Fairly quick as far as most cars go, aided not only by one of the best six-speed gearboxes of any manufacturer, but enormous optional 295/35R19 tyres at the rear ably controlled by Porsche’s PSM traction control. Progress is rapid.

PSM also acts like ESP/VDC in other cars — it monitors the direction, speed, yaw velocity and lateral acceleration, detecting if the car is getting out of shape. If so, it will intervene, selectively braking individual wheels to bring the car back into line. The PSM does its best to cope with the inherent power understeer that many Porsches suffer from due to a light front end. And this lack of weight at the sharp end (unless you’re loaded with luggage) also causes the ABS on the front wheels to lock prematurely under heavy braking. That’s about all I can find wrong with this Porsche, so on with the adulation.

When you are putting two hundred grand plus on a car the details must be superb. In this case the Porsche is finished in Basalt Black Metallic — a beautifully deep and sparkly black; the interior features stitched leather on the dashboard, steering wheel and doors; the hood folds away neatly, silently and perfectly in 20 seconds; the leather-clad bucket seats are infinitely electrically adjustable; and I could go on.

But the best part is the noise made under hard acceleration from the 3.6-litre flat-six engine. Drop into the driver’s seat and suddenly you are immersed in the car as if in a cockpit. It fires up with a bark. Snick it into first and bring up the weighty clutch while applying some right-foot weight to the throttle.

Like a squadron of Fokkers ready to defend against the Allies, the Porsche gathers speed with an angry roar, pausing briefly as the pilot gathers up another cog. When it comes to shaving off the speed, large cross-drilled rotors clamped by four-pot callipers act like an arrestor hook on an aircraft carrier.

Dominating the instrumentation is the centrally positioned rev counter. A digital display within the counter shows trip computer and radio information, as well as the accurate speed in kph, which is fortunate because the speedometer to the left is too small to accurately tell the speed — it goes up to 330kph.

Fitting enough airbags in a convertible means having a thorax airbag in each seat. a head airbag in each door, and the driver and passenger front airbags.

Technically a four-seater, in reality it’s a two seater with a useful extra luggage area. The rear seats fold down to form a flat tray, and a cavity underneath where items can be stored out of view. This is handy because interior storage (like most convertibles of any brand) is on the light side.

Functions for the radio and car setup are managed via the Porsche Communication Management console in the centre of the dashboard. The large screen is surrounded by buttons and a data entry wheel, some of which can be duplicated on the steering wheel to the user’s requirements. There are optional navigation and telephone modules, and a 10-disc CD changer can be installed in the front luggage compartment. Nine speakers fill the cabin with a punchy sound and have no problem rising above the increased noise when the hood is down.

After over forty years of development, you’d expect the 911 to be great, and it is. I would personally lay down another five thousand and get the higher-powered hard top Carrera S over the Carrera Cabriolet, though. But that is personal opinion (in part driven by my propensity to sunburn and my dislike of the ‘wind in the hair’ experience). In the end, you are driving an icon, and however you like your roof the Porsche 911 can do the job.

Thanks to Continental Cars in Newmarket for the loan of the Porsche

Price: from $220,000

What we like

  • Everything except:

What we don’t like

  • Care required as not to induce power understeer from low speeds
  • Fronts lock easily under heavy braking
  • Cup holders are useless

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Quinn Hamill