Porsche was founded in 1931 in Stuttgart by Ferdinand Porsche, and originally offered motor vehicle development, technology, consulting, but did not build any of its own cars.
One of the first contracts for the company was from the German Government to design a car for the people, for Volkswagen. This resulted in the design and birth of the original Beetle.
During WW2 VW turned its production to military vehicles, and Porsche produced many designs for heavy tanks, although not many of their designs were used.
At the end of WW2 in 1945, the VW factory went to the British and Major Ivan Hirst from Saddleworth, near Manchester was put in charge. Ferdinand lost his position of Chairman and was put in prison for nearly two years, but never tried. During his time in prison, Ferdinands son, Ferry decided to design and build a car he wanted to drive, and the original Porsche sports car was launched, the 356
If you like cars, then there’s not a right lot not to like about a Porsche, but many traditionalists have shaken their heads in disbelief over some models the company has produced over recent years. A large SUV Porsche, ridiculous, an Electric Porsche, outrageous you can hear them say at owners club meetings. But the simple fact is, that whatever it looks like, whatever the drivetrain, they have sold in bucket-loads.
But I recently drove the second-generation 718 Cayman GT4, now this is what those Porsche owners will like. First of all, it looks like a Porsche sports car, typical lines and design, and from 500m away you know it’s a Porsche. It has the huge air-scoops on the rear body panels.
It is fitted with the new 9AE Evo engine that is a 4.0-litre flat six that produces 420ps, goes from 0-100kph in 4.4 seconds, and is coupled to a 6-speed short-shift manual gearbox, all very smooth, and more than enough power. It also has a top speed of 300kph, where permitted, which is hardly anywhere, especially here in Gibraltar, and doubtful you could get up to that speed on the runway, you might get up to 300kph, but not sure there’d be enough runway left to slow down. But the 718 does have a high-performance braking system to match its performance and acceleration.
The interior is most definitely a Porsche, slightly awkward to get into, and a bit more awkward to get out of, but there is a knack, and you’d soon get used to it. But if it was easy to get in and out of, the the traditionalists would say it’s not a proper Porsche. Once you are comfortably seated, the controls are easy to use, and very intuitive, but some of the suspension settings and dynamic controls would need a bit of thinking about, I just left everything as it was, and was perfectly happy.
The whole of the cabin oozes quality, yes it looks and feels very sporty, but during the time I drove it, it was very comfortable. It rode over the lumps and bumps on the roads in North Yorkshire with ease, and didn’t once feel too harsh, a good sign of clever engineering. I dare say if you pressed a few buttons, and levers near the gear-stick then the ride would form up, and might feel a bit more uncomfortable.
The 718 looks like a Porsche, drives like a Porsche, but more importantly, it sounds like a Porsche. On start-up, the engine and exhaust give out the most glorious ‘roar’ just fantastic.
The price of the test car in the UK is £75,348, which sounds a lot of money, but it is a lot of car. And it does have those Porsche badges on it.
Porsche do now offer a wide range of car sizes, engines, electric and prices, but think after driving the Cayman, I might just have joined the Traditionalists Brigade.