TrackWorthy - Toronto to LA - Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 - 014

Toronto to L.A. in a New Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 991.2

by TrackWorthy,

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“Power, comfort, handling, design… if this were the last sports car we ever drove, we’d die content.”Sam Reitman, Co-President, TrackWorthy Group Ltd.
5 A.M., Eastern Daylight Time, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Alarm clock blaring, but it didn’t wake me. I was already wide awake. Who could sleep? A brand-new Porsche 911 C4S, and five days of epic, cross-continental driving awaited. No, sleep was never in the cards for me that night. Only eager anticipation for the open roads ahead and vivid imaginings of a shiny, Graphite Blue beauty roaring through gradually-changing topographies: city skyscrapers to industrial smokestacks to corn fields, deserts, canyons and mountains. As an added bonus, my father agreed to join me. It wasn’t the first long road trip upon which the two of us had embarked, but we’d been looking forward to this one with building excitement since I placed the order for the C4S some seven months earlier. Our schedules were clear, our route was planned, and, most importantly, the car had arrived. My alarm clock’s chime was no unwelcome rooster’s crow that morning; it was a long-awaited green flag.

The Route

When we typed “Toronto to Los Angeles” into Google Maps, Google suggested three options. The first, and shortest, would stop us somewhere in Iowa, then in Denver, Colorado, then in Las Vegas, Nevada after driving through Utah, and then put us in L.A. on the fourth day. The second was much the same, although our first stop would be Kansas City, Missouri, instead of somewhere in Iowa. And the third option, a more southern route, would take us through St. Louis, Missouri, followed by Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then Albuquerque, New Mexico, and, finally, L.A. Which did we choose? None of the above.
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Instead, we crafted a fourth, longer and more southerly alternative. Why? Significantly more of our DIY route was new to both of us than any of Google’s suggestions. Moreover, we set aside five days for the drive, and we wanted to use all five!

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Our intended route was to drive from Toronto to Nashville, Tennessee (1261 km, 11 h 53 min), then to Dallas, Texas (1069 km, 9 h 38 min), followed by the Las Cruces, New Mexico (1095 km, 9 h 44 min), which is apparently the second largest city in the state, after Albuquerque. From Las Cruces, we planned to hit Scottsdale, Arizona (626 km, 5 h 34 min), and then arrive in Los Angeles on the fifth day (599 km, 5 h 37 min).

Route as Planned

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What actually transpired? Partly owing to unfounded trepidation over accommodations in Las Cruces, and partly thanks to extra stamina on our third day, after dinner in border town El Paso, Texas, we drove an additional (532 km, 4 h 32 min) to Tucson, Arizona. That put our total for the day at (1535 km, 13 h 44 min), instead of the planned (1095 km, 9 h 44 min). From Tucson, we were able to build in a more leisurely (205 km, 2 h 9 min) drive to Scottsdale, Arizona, and then conclude with a civilized (616 km, 5 h 37 min) final day to L.A. through Palm Springs.

Route as Traveled

Toronto to L.A. in a Porsche 991.2 911 C4S - Actual Route

The Route – Notable Positives

Hotel Choices. The hotels we visited ranged from very good to fantastic. Our favourites, however, were the Thompson Nashville and the Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale.

The Thompson was well located in the heart of The Gulch, a central, trendy Nashville district. The staff were attentive and charming, the styling modern and chic, cleanliness was A+, and there was an excellent hotel restaurant. The valet also happened to be a car nut, and the two of us spent a good amount of time bonding on the topic.

It’s hard to go wrong with The Four Seasons; however, our expectations were justifiably higher considering the price. We were proud to see our Canadian brand shine, with only one exception: The hotel was filming some sort of highlight reel featuring its main restaurant’s kitchen. As a result, dinner service was embarrassingly awful, and the hotel did not, in our opinion, compensate appropriately. If you’re going to film your restaurant, do it at off hours and not at the expense of paying guests. That said, the majestic desert setting, palatial suites, complete with private yards and hot tubs, and employees that have erased “no” from their lexicons, made it hard to leave unhappy. Plus, breakfast at Proof was awesome (get the Huevos Rancheros).

Toronto to L.A. in a Porsche 991.2 911 C4S - Actual Route
Restaurant Choices.  On the topic of restaurants, Nashville’s Rolf & Daughters in Germantown was incredible. Terrific, inventive cocktails, delectable share-plates, all local and seasonal. Make a reservation, though – it is a hot ticket. Also of note: the iconic Nick & Sam’s steakhouse in Dallas. If you go, don’t eat before, and plan not to eat for long after. All dishes, from salad to steak to colossal cake wedges, were heavenly but heavy. We were fortunate to have dined there with my best friend and his girlfriend, who shared some inside history about the place: Apparently, the building was previously a funeral home – the place where the Secret Service brought J.F.K.’s corpse soon after he was assassinated. Our steaks looked a little less appetizing after she enlightened us.

Southern-most Segment. Finally, the segment of our trip approaching and skirting the U.S.-Mexico border, especially between Abilene and El Paso, Texas, was particularly interesting. Visiting many of the gas stations and their host “towns” felt like entering a time warp. They were simultaneously enchanting, eerie, quaint, and weird. Pictured below is a gas stop we made in the forlorn Sierra Blanca.

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The Route – Notable Negatives

Overall, a boring route. In hindsight, taking advice from our old friend, Google, would probably have yielded a more picturesque and exciting drive.  Remember (from the Intro) the dramatic topographical transitions that I imagined? They never really happened. There was definitely some desert and a few mountains as we approached L.A.; but, most of our route turned out to be flat, industrial, uniform, drab. Apparently, Google’s northern-most suggestion, through Iowa, Colorado and Utah would have offered much more topographical contrast from day-to-day. More on that later.

Hotel Choices. Little Rock, Arkansas. Sounds so charming, so captivating — a little rock in Arkansas. Hometown of former U.S. President, Bill Clinton. Maybe we didn’t hit the right spots, maybe we were tired, maybe the places we stopped were having an off day. Sadly, we were a bit disappointed. If you ever find yourself choosing between South on Main or any other place for lunch, choose the latter. We stopped at South on Main. Aesthetically, it was quite appealing. Let’s leave it at that.

Speed Traps & Congestion. Again, this may have been more a function of bad timing rather than bad route. However, most of the drive was on highway loaded with well-hidden speed traps. Even worse – or, perhaps, better from a not-getting-stopped standpoint – there was so much congestion for the majority of our route that the speed traps were nearly totally pointless. Nearly. We did receive a friendly warning from an officer the night we stretched our stamina between El Paso and Tucson. In truth, given (a) how close to the speed limit we were driving, (b) how close to the Mexican border we were at the time, and (c) how quickly the officer let us go when he saw us, we weren’t convinced that catching speeders was the officer’s chief interest.


Porsche 991.2 – The Car & Driving Impressions

The route may have fallen short of anticipatory imaginings, but the new 991.2 C4S surpassed them.  With an abundance of power, precise handling, aggressive beauty, reliability and surprising comfort, she drove like a dream. Even after spending nearly every waking moment in the car for five straight days, the hairs on the back of my neck still prickle whenever the engine ignites for a new drive. For all the details on the car’s build, click here, then click “Open.”

TrackWorthy - Sierra Blanca

The Car – Notable Positives

Power. Low-RPM power availability was always a bit of an issue with my previous, naturally aspirated, 2013 991.1 911 C4S. Stepping on the gas while in too high a gear was often frustrating. Although the engine was naturally aspirated, the high-end-only power delivery created an experience strangely reminiscent of turbo lag. Not so in this twin-turbo 991.2 C4S, equipped with Porsche’s magical 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK). The torque curve is incredibly flat, with peak torque (368 lb.-ft.) available starting as early as 1,700 RPM and extending up to 5,000 RPM. The 420-horsepower, achieved at 6,500 RPM, is capable of ripping the all-wheel drive, 3,329 lb. body from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in about 3.8 seconds on the way to a top speed of 302 km/h (188 mph). For more specs on the 991.2 C4S, click here.

Handling. Though equipped with an abundance of power, Porsche 911s have not garnered reputations for winning drag races (exceptions: GT2 RS, GT3 RS and Turbo S); rather, experts generally acknowledge that 911s truly shine because of the perfect balance between power, responsiveness and handling that fifty-five years of German engineering have achieved. The rear-axle steering – now available on all 911s – made a noticeable difference in stability at high speeds and turning radius at low. On our drive, the car was truly a symphony on wheels, with each component playing its part, achieving precision we could feel in each minute turn.

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Sadly, our route was mostly flat and straight, so this particular drive was far from ideal to showcase my point. However, in an upcoming post, we’ll visit some famed California Canyon roads to demonstrate this Porsche’s pavement-prancing prowess.

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Aesthetic. I’m very happy with my styling choices; I’m sure many strongly agree, while others disagree. People’s tastes differ, and that’s great.

I chose Graphite Blue Metallic with 20” RS Spyder Design Wheels. I also ordered the key fob painted in the same Graphite Blue, which comes with a leather case in the same color – a classy touch. For most of his career, my father in-law has worked as an executive at major U.S. defense contractors. He was very involved in several of the stealth fighter and bomber programs. When he first saw my car, he commented that its colour is the same as that which his company initially used to camouflage the stealth aircraft. If I had any doubts over my colour choice, they immediately vanished.

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For the interior, I decided on leather in Graphite Blue and Chalk, which includes deviated stitching in Chalk – I’m definitely a fan of deviated stitching.

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For a sportier feel, I selected the multifunctional, heated steering wheel in carbon fiber, as well as interior trim in carbon fiber.

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Perhaps one of my best calls was to upgrade the instrument cluster and Sport Chrono clock dials so that they’re all white. When I received the car, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the interior roof liner was done in a rich matching Graphite Blue Alcantara.

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Although the sports exhaust package doesn’t produce a drastically different sound compared to the standard package, the centrally-mounted twin tailpipes are very sporty. And the optional fuel cap with aluminum look and finish definitely elevated refueling a tad along the drive.

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An additional minor positive point of distinction when comparing the 991.2 to the 991.1: I could never tell when the spoiler was up in the 991.1 from the cabin looking through the rear-view. In the 991.2, as soon as we hit the highway and accelerated to speed, I noticed it emerge into view. This pleased me.

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Comfort and Reliability. Fifty years ago, five full days in a compact, two-door 911 would not have conjured images of fluffy clouds, easy-chairs or plush couches. Sports cars were pure driving machines – if you wanted comfort, you should have checked into a resort or taken a limo. And fuel efficiency? Even ten years ago you’d be laughed out of a dealership if you were foolish enough to inquire.

Times have certainly changed. Our 991.2 C4S was equipped with 14-way Power Sport Seats with memory, which are heated and ventilated. The ride was quite smooth (when we didn’t turn on Active Sports Suspension), and neither of us suffered any aches or pains after our hours on the road. Moreover, gas mileage was fairly impressive – we averaged 9.3 liters/100 km (about 25 mpg).

The infotainment system, with optional Bose sound system, performed significantly better than the version in the 991.1 – faster, better interface and equipped with Apple Car Play. We used the Audible app to help pass time quickly during particularly boring route segments.

The optional LED Headlights, which include the Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus were outstanding. They illuminate significantly brighter and whiter than Xenons – they literally projected daytime a good distance in front of the car.

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We experienced zero issues with the car and were very impressed with its comfort level.


The Car – Minor Nit-picks

Exhaust/Engine Volume. Yes, we’ve entered the eco-friendly age of the turbo. And, we loved just about everything about the 991.2’s twin turbo: no lag, terrific, uniform power delivery, better fuel economy. The one downside: the 991.2’s roar is less throaty, less guttural, less aggressive and less loud than its predecessor’s. Moreover, activating the optional Sports Exhaust package using the center-console-mounted button does little to improve the experience – doing so on the 991.1 produced a much more dramatic transformation.

The trend toward turbo hasn’t dashed all hope in this department, however. We recently reviewed a 991.2 GTS Cabriolet, one step up Porsche’s performance ladder from the C4S, and that car sounded properly angry, especially under decent acceleration. So, perhaps Porsche will apply its magic to “lesser” 911s in future generations similar to what it has done on the 991.2 GTS. Or, perhaps environmental regulations will ultimately squelch the scream of the sports car for good.

The PDK: SPORT Response Button. Supposedly, it’sfor fingertip activation of performance-oriented engine and transmission setups.” So, it’s supposed to give you super powers for twenty seconds? From our perspective, especially when driving in manual mode (which was nearly the whole drive), pushing it didn’t really change much. It certainly was nothing like that red button from Men in Black. It seemed a bit gimmicky and we didn’t experience the value. That said, it’s merely part of the optional Sport Chrono Package, which does offer other clear benefits, like multiple driving modes, a performance display and Launch Control.

It’s Low. Generally, that’s a good thing. And it’s only about a centimeter lower than the 991.1. For some reason, we noticed significantly more scraping driving in and out of driveways, strip malls and other plazas. And with every scrape, it felt like a piece of my soul died. Not really. But, it definitely elicits a cringe and helpless frustration—no level of caution or skill can prevent bottoming out in many situations. In hindsight, the optional Front Axel Lift System would have been a good call.

No Torque Curve? It annoyed us some to see that Porsche still hasn’t made the real-time torque curve display available in 911s other than in the top end models.  Porsche is just finding more ways to differentiate their highest-end (?) editions. It wouldn’t cost them anything more to put it in all 991.2s, and access to the real-time torque curve is not the reason someone’s buying a Turbo S over a C4S. That said, the torque curve is so incredibly flat in the 991.2 that receiving live torque updates probably isn’t actually all that valuable. Most of the time, you’re at peak 368 lb.-ft.

Google Maps. It should have it. It doesn’t. It’s not even an optional app within Apple Car Play. Unfortunate.

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The Car – Bottom Line

We loved every moment we spent in this car. The positives FAR outweighed the minor nit-picks. Power, comfort, handling, design… if this were the last sports car we ever drove, we’d die content.

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Future Plans

There were two main issues with this drive. The first was the route. It wasn’t picturesque, and it didn’t offer adequate opportunity to showcase the car’s handling and performance. The second was the car’s newness. Even if there were segments of open road that encouraged speed and hard acceleration, we didn’t have enough break-in millage on the car to feel comfortable pushing it to its full potential.

As such, many more videos with this 991.2 are in the works:

Canyon Roads. While out in California, we’ll showcase the 991.2 C4S’s handling prowess on some of the mountain canyon roads.

Long Drives and Car Meetups. We’ll also test the car’s fuel economy under more realistic driving conditions and compare fuel economy in normal driving mode to Sport. To do so, we’ll drive up the famed Pacific Coast Highway as far as we can on one tank of gas in Normal mode, then refill and repeat the same drive in Sport. Along the way, we’ll stop at a Coffee and Cars event to see what TrackWorthy beasts lurk around Malibu these days.

Back to T.O. We’ll re-traverse the continent back to Toronto, this time taking Google’s recommended northern route, which should be more scenic and offer more dramatic topographic transitions. More importantly, it should also promise more open road, enabling us to shoot a video that is much more driving focused.

 

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If you have any additional requests or recommendations, please contact us at info@trackworthy.com. We’d love to hear your creative ideas and we’ll do our best to incorporate them.

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Photographs and Videos © Copyright TrackWorthy Group Ltd. 2018

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