For the final leg of the Targa rally, we chose Alex Andonian’s BMW 335i. Andonian, from Tag Motorsports in San Diego, has been a rabid competitor throughout the 2010 series, placing at the very top of the field in the second event in the San Francisco Bay. His BMW has been built to run, with choice modifications like a full exhaust system that includes custom downpipes and a Remus rear section, GIAC software and an Active Autowerke intercooler, and a completely revised suspension setup courtesy of KW coilovers and Eibach antiroll bars. Cosmetics have been extensively revised with OEM products like Euro-spec headlights and M-Tech body components. This car represents everything we like in a modified Euro: enhanced performance and tasteful good looks.
Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet
Nature’s perfect sports car?
For this final event, Porsche Cars North America once again came through for us, this time with a Meteor Grey 911 Turbo Cab. What can one write about this most iconic of sports cars that hasn’t already been written?
I could try and tell you how fast it is. But words wouldn’t really do it justice. Suffice it to say, it’s bloody fast. I could use other conjugated qualifiers in place of bloody to describe fast, but those all start with four-letter words. The 997.2 Turbo is one of the fastest cars I’ve ever driven, nothing notwithstanding. Porsche puts the Cab’s 0-60 time at 3.3 seconds with the PDK transmission and Sport Chrono Package, but independent testers have turned even faster numbers. A lot of this has to do with the launch control program included with the PDK/Sport Chrono configuration, and an all-wheel-drive system that simply refuses to allow any wheel slippage. Beyond 60, the car keeps pulling frantically until either your guts turn to water or you top out at 193 mph (top up or down).
The Cabriolet adds a whole new dimension to the driving experience. Top down, you can hear the induction system working, sucking, huffing, wheezing, blowing, as though some sort of angry metallic dragon resides beneath the decklid.
In terms of street performance, the thing is just about flawless. The steering is sharp and direct, and the brakes generate deceleration nearly as violent as the engine’s acceleration. If you drive with a light right foot, mid-20 mpg figures are actually attainable. You could say the ride is hard, but you ought to expect that. After three long days of driving, on the fourth I woke up feeling like someone had thrown me a pillow party in the middle of the night.
With cars like the GT3 in the model lineup, I used to secretly think the newer Turbos were poseur cars, glorified boulevard cruisers for clueless yuppies and moneyed boy racers. Now, after having stomped a 911 GT3 RS off the stoplights, I ain’t so sure. The RS would take it on a racetrack, but in a straight line, there’s nothing like next-generation AWD and nearly four decades’ worth of Germanic turbo development.
How could you best describe it in a single word? I guess it’d have to be sick. Yeah, it’s sick.
2011 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet
Longitudinal rear engine, all-wheel drive
3.8-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve, twin turbocharged
Seven-speed PDK automated manual
Peak Power: 500 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 1950 rpm
0-60 mph: 3.3 sec.
Top Speed: 193 mph
Fuel Economy: 16 city/ 24 hwy