I am behind the wheel of a 2017 screaming-yellow, twin-turbocharged convertible Porsche 911 Carrera S, slamming the pedal to the metal and torquing in tight, smooth turns around super-dangerous curvy roads high in the Alps, a stunning blonde by my side, the wind in my hair as we laughingly evade the hapless spies giving us chase.
I turn to my right. There is no blonde, just Keith McIntosh, professional driver and instructor from the Porsche Driving School in Alabama. Not a bad-looking guy, but still. Oh, and there are no spies, just pedestrians carrying bags and cameras. The wind does blow, however, but over my bald pate. And it’s not the Alps; technically, it is downtown Newport and I can’t go that fast, not really wanting to mow down those bag-and-camera carrying tourists.
Hey, you take your fantasies where you can. This was mine. But driving that Porsche? That was sweetly real.
And you can do it, too, if you’re over 25 with a driver’s license. Go to www.porschedrivingevent.com/newport and use promo code Yacht16NY to sign up and get the schedule, which runs on various days through Sept. 17.
It’s all part of a Porsche promotion, ostensibly to sell more cars by letting regular folks like me drive them at these demos. The one in Newport, a 20-30 minute ride with Porsche’s McIntosh, runs out of the New York Yacht Club or the Hotel Viking (I’d opt for the former if possible, because tooling down Ocean Drive in a Porsche? Nothing better — plus you can always stop in at the Viking’s rooftop bar for a celebratory drink after). The yellow beauty I drove comes fully loaded for a mere $130,000, leaving me about $129,500 short. I took a pass on purchasing.
But that’s OK, because driving a Porsche has always been on my bucket list, and this was the ideal opportunity. McIntosh isn’t a hard-sell guy anyway, he just loves Porsches and talking about what they can do, telling you how to drive the one you’re in and best enjoy the quick ride.
They also have a Porsche Macan GTS, pretty much an SUV version with all the bells and whistles, but really, go with the Carrera if you can, it’s Porsche iconic, low to the ground with super-sensitive steering and accelerator response and enough digital gadgetry to make you think you need NASA certification to drive it. But McIntosh is there to explain it all.
Part of that is using either automatic or clutch transmission; this has both, with manual shifting on the steering column, and is easily switched from one to the other. I ask about some unusual features on the dash, one of which is a G-force calculator, telling you just how many G’s you’re pulling slamming around corners.
I settle into the incredibly comfortable seat and with a few instructors, we’re off, very slowly leaving the Hotel Viking lot and rumbling down the street, getting glances from people marveling at the car and perhaps wondering who the bald guy pretending to be rich is.
All I want to do is go fast because it’s a Porsche. I have to hold off until we hit a bit of open road and McIntosh tells me to lag back a little – and then hit it, full throttle. I don’t know what G-force we reach powering up to the cars in front of us in a seeming split second, but quickly realize why this thing comes with three-point seatbelts to keep you tight to the seat.
I want more. I get it. We come up to a near 90-degree turn, no traffic in front of us. McIntosh says go full throttle, so I slam the accelerator and the car seamlessly powers around the turn with a terrific throaty roar, powering up to the cars before us. I touch the brakes and it slows as smoothly as it blasted off.
McIntosh explains a lot of doo-dads on the car, including options like shifting to Sports 1 and 2 that puts the Porsche into a total sports-car mode, reading your movements and adjusting accordingly, making it one of the most intuitive, and certainly best engineered cars on the road.
And that’s that. We pull back into Hotel Viking, I thank him and walk back to my real car – a 2003 Camry with 251,000 miles on it. I kick aside the coffee cups and other detritus, get in and drive away, no stunning blonde at my side, no hair and no Porsche.
Hey, it was fun while it lasted.