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The Japanese use the word Kaizen to explain their culture of continually seeking improvement in all they do. This is now a well-known global concept and the people managing and working at Porsche obviously have a similar outlook in developing their growing stable of sports cars – even if some of them are now SUVs!
It is amazing how Porsche has found “eternal life” for its various ranges of cars. They remain recognisable by make and model even many years after the first car of the type appeared. For instance, the latest iteration of the iconic 911, which has now been on the market for 57 years, has many styling features that hark back to the original version. It also retains the same basic mechanical layout with an overhung rear engine, although cooling is now with liquid instead of air as was the case for many years.
The Cayenne SUV, which was launched in 2002 to the distress of many hardcore Porsche fans, has been a major money-spinner for the German manufacturer but the latest model still harks back strongly to its roots, planted 18 years ago.
It is amazing how the dedicated Porsche team manages to keep these timeless designs relevant and desirable over such long periods of time. The secrets are mainly under the skin, and they all add up to making the latest model better than its predecessor.
One area where Porsche is able to stay ahead of the pack is in the application of electronics, with many customer benefits owed to the brand’s ongoing commitment to motor racing, while also having the engineering might of the Volkswagen Group on which to call.
This continuous striving to make their cars ever more impressive and refined was very obvious at the media launches of the Cayenne GTS SUV and the magnificent 911 Turbo S coupe, which were held over varied, well-surfaced roads in the beautiful Western Cape recently.
I shared the cars with Roger McCleery, a friend of long standing, and we revelled in the comfort, smoothness of ride and the POWER! There has been a return to a V8 engine – a 4-litre with twin turbochargers – for the GTS. It unleashes 338kW of power and a stump-pulling 620 Nm of torque, while the range-topping 911 Turbo S’s new 3.8-litre biturbo flat six power unit has a 51 kW power boost over its predecessor, lifting output to 478 kW with 800 Nm of torque.
Exhaust pipes and the emotive notes they emit are an important status symbol in the world of performance cars and Porsche puts a great deal of effort into the style of the tailpipes and the sound they make. This is certainly vastly different from the cars of the 1960’s which had fairly small exhaust outlets, sometimes even pointing downwards and hidden out of sight behind a sturdy rear bumper.
The Cayenne GTS ups the ante in the exhaust stakes with a choice of two sports systems, one with the outlet pipes located towards the outer corners of the car’s rear, while the sportier version, fitted to the Cayenne Coupe we drove, has two, centrally positioned oval tailpipes. The newly developed exhaust system for 911 Turbo S even has adjustable flaps for a distinctive sound. The soundtracks provided a wonderful aural experience as we drove the twisty roads and mountain passes in the Western Cape.
This exhausting tale shows just how far Porsche goes with detail items in its strategy of continual refinement of products that are already well honed!
Now let us look at the newcomers:
The GTS is the sporty derivative in the Cayenne range, positioned between the S and Turbo models, with the standard version priced at R1 749 000 and the sleeker Coupe at R1 839 000. If you want to add the lightweight package to the Coupe specification, which was fitted to our test car, then you need to shell out a further R195 000.
The added engine power of the latest GTS, matched to an eight-speed Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic transmission, sees it sprint from 0-100 km/h in 4.5 sec. and then run on to a top speed of 270 km/h.
A lowered, performance-oriented chassis, unique design features inside and out, as well as enhanced equipment levels round off the latest GTS package.
The next generation 911 Turbo S – available as a coupe or cabriolet – is more powerful, more dynamic, and more comfortable than ever.
The aforementioned increase in engine power combined with the Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive system and an eight-speed PDK transmission ensures the power gets on the road and into the record books with a 0-100 km/h sprint taking 2.7 seconds, while the next 100 metres are covered in only another 6.2 seconds before the Turbo S goes on to a top speed of 330 km/h.
Detailed improvements extend to larger and even more efficient brakes than previously. Also added in to the latest 911 mix are sportier chassis characteristics, larger tyres and larger front and rear wings. The rear wing acts as an air brake in the event of making an emergency stop from high speed. Prices for the 911 Turbo S start at R3 849 000 and include a three-year/100 000 km Driveplan.
However, the overriding impressions that came from these substantial spells behind the wheels of the Cayenne GTS and 911 Turbo S were the ride comfort and the way the cosseting seats and well-weighted controls make the driver feel at one with the Porsche he or she is driving.
These two new arrivals in South Africa certainly add more credence to Porsche’s obvious passion for continuing to refine models that are already very refined.