The Utterly Practical Supercar

Matthew Ng, Legal Counsel, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited

When you think of Hong Kong, your first thought is usually traffic jams and erratic weather, but recently, I discovered the reason why cars such as the 911 Carrera 4 GTS exist and are highly desired in Hong Kong. Any Porsche 911 is a man’s dream but this one is special because the GTS stands for “Gran Turismo Sport” which places it between the highly potent “S” sport model and the legendary “Turbo” model (driven by Will Smith in Bad Boys).

As a long-time Porsche fanatic, who for his honeymoon, purposely visited the Porsche Museum and Factory in Stuttgart, Germany, I did not for one moment doubt the GTS’ performance. Zero to 100 in four seconds flat. That’s about the time it usually takes you to adjust your seat. When I floored it, the rear-mounted flat-six engine let out a deep and masculine roar and pressed us hard against the back of our seats, rapidly eating up all of the road ahead of us and putting a big grin on my face. Being the old school stick-shift purist, I was initially quite skeptical of the PDK semi-automatic paddle-shift gear box until I experienced the sensation of pushing each of the gears up to the 7,500 RPM limit and when my passenger kindly informed me (over the roar of the engine) that the PDK is actually 0.4 seconds faster than the manual version to 100, I was like shut up and take my money. As we approached the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade exit and I downshifted to second gear, feeling the PDK blip the accelerator in microseconds to perfectly match the revs, I even caused the rear wheels to slide out a bit, but my passenger quickly reassured me it was the loose gravel and not my driving style.

None of this should surprise you, but what did surprise me was that the GTS’ magic lay in what it wasn’t advertised to do. For an overtly sporty model, the ride was surprisingly comfortable and the PDK allowed you to just flick it into automatic during traffic jams so you could kick back and relax – it just works. Cruising around on a cool Saturday morning, the whole cabin felt solid and luxurious and even with the top down, my carefully crafted pompadour hardly moved an inch. Like any well designed German car, you are surrounded by a smorgasbord of buttons and switches which let you adjust everything from the sound of the exhaust, to the stiffness of the suspension and even put the GTS into Sport or Sport Plus modes. I was told that Sport Plus mode is so powerful it should never be used on public roads (only on a race track).

As I sped home at over 100 km/h (on the MTR), my mind subconsciously combined the surprising with the unsurprising and it dawned upon me that this was the utterly practical supercar. Having previously spent time with some of Porsche’s Italian counterparts, I realised that love at first sight could be deceptive – it was fun and easy to fall in love with those mesmerising Italian curves and wild sounds, but you get so caught up you never really turn your mind to the more practical considerations. Here, the GTS was on the one hand that ferociously fast beast screaming down the Promenade and then in an instant, that comfortable and luxurious cruiser that you would gladly drive to the shops. You could be thrashing this thing on the race track in Sport Plus mode in the morning and then be home by midday to pick up the kids from school. This versatility is what really struck me.

So who cares if you have traffic jams and erratic weather in Hong Kong. When that momentary gap in the traffic opens up or the sun comes out to shine, drop that top down, put the PDK into manual and slam that accelerator.

But one more thing, don’t forget to pick up the kids.