Las Palmas sprawls along the coast of the third largest of the Canary Islands archipelago, scattered in the warm seas just beyond the northwest coast of Africa. From a satellite’s eye view, the island is almost a perfect circle; Gran Canaria, with a surface area of 1,560 square kilometers, centers around its highest peak, the extinct volcano Pico de Las Nieves — the ‘peak of snows’ — at 1,949 meters. It’s a long way from Lebanon, and yet the charms are superficially similar: you can spend your days basking in balmy weather, draining the cocktail bars while admiring the snow-capped peaks above. It’s a superb destination for a Porsche press trip to test out their gleaming new 911 Carrera Cabriolet, but it also reminds you how pollution and traffic impede top-down driving in Beirut.
Until now, the choice between coupé and cabriolet might have been an agonizing one for someone considering dropping in the region of $100,000 (depending on customs fees) on the car of their dreams. Supreme performance from a coupé, or the style and freedom of a cabriolet with some compromises on the frame and engine? Now, a new intelligent lightweight design for the hood and all-aluminum frame for the body means that when the hood is up, the silhouettes of the coupé and the cabriolet are barely distinguishable. And, both of the 911 Careera Cabriolet and the sports version have the same engine as the 911 Carrera Coupé equivalent: 3.4 and 3.8 liter boxer engines, respectively, with 350 and 400 horse power. The driving power has been ratcheted up as well, with electro-mechanical power steering and, for the Carrera S, Porsche Torque Vectoring with differential lock featured as standard.
Foot to the floor
These features were amply put to the test spiraling up the sides of Pico de Las Nieves in a yellow Carrera S the morning after our arrival. The car, with its significantly reduced weight from previous models and torque of 390 Newton meters at 5,600 revolutions per minute, ate up the roads and cornered elegantly.
The fantasy trip came to an end on the sands of the Las Palmas autodrome. In this environment you really test the car, and the fact that these are seriously high quality racing sports cars comes to the fore. Handling them requires reaching top speeds of around 286 kilometers per hour and taking curves brutally fast, and after putting the pedal to the floor for two to three laps you have to cool the car down for one slow driving lap, a process that really drives home its racing credentials.
After honing my embrace of the car and witling down my lap time through the day, needless to say, I left Las Palmas with a smile on my face.