A date with destiny, whose number was 911

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A date with destiny, whose number was 911

Test driving a sports car somehow feels like going on a date.
When speaking with a Porsche public-relations representative, I inquired about the difference between a Boxter and a 911 Carrera Cabriolet. She said, “911 Carrera Cabriolet is way above, just way beyond.” Wow. I’d love to experience that.
When I told my friends that I was going to drive a Porsche, they all got excited. “Wow! So you’re going to change your car?” one friend inquired. He sounded as if I was dumping my boyfriend for a hot rock star.
The next day, at the Porsche showroom in southern Seoul, unbelievable things happened. After signing a simple document, Chung Jae-hyun, the sales representative, handed me a key. I said, “Err, thanks. I’ll make a round and come back. Aren’t you coming with me?”
Mr. Chung shook his head. “No, no. Take your time; you’ve got all afternoon. Have a great ride!”
I nearly panicked: Oh my gawd, going with a rock star without a chaperone? So, I sat Mr. Chung down for a few minutes to get instructions, precautions and perhaps a curfew.
The Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet that I soon would have for the day was a gorgeous blue called “metallic lapis blue.” The body was aerodynamic, muscular, reasonably compact and unspeakably elegant. Fewer than 10 metallic silver 911 Carrera Cabriolets were sold in Korea last year, he said.
Mr. Chung then showed me the most important function: How to open the soft top. “Just press the button on the front panel. See?”
I heard the sound of R2D2, the friendly robot in “Star Wars,” except cars don’t speak. It had the perfect mechanical coordination of a robot: windows slid down, a lock overhead clicked open, the rear guard lifted up, the black-fabric roof swung back and nested quietly. All in less than 20 seconds.
I noticed a thin line in the center of the windshield. Mr. Chung said the “in-glass antenna” was a new feature on most sports cars.
Looking around, I saw a silver gearbox and clearly was disappointed. “Well, this is automatic,” he said, “but we’ll begin to import manual transmissions next year.”
Sinking deep into the leather seat, I felt somewhat small for the car. The interior was roomy enough for a six-footer. The two rear seats were small but seemed handy. Between the seats, on the door and below the dashboard were lockable compartments to stash and safeguard belongings.
The dashboard didn’t feel too techy, but rather retro with five classic-style gauges rather than digital readouts. The leather padding was hand-stitched. And the gold Porsche emblem in the center of the steering wheel was a cool reminder: This IS a Porsche.
The car’s six-CD changer was in the trunk in the front of the car; the engine was in the back, providing plenty of rear-wheel traction.
Drivers can change CDs without popping the trunk lid. There was a slot on the console that can store and play four additional CDs. And there were speakers at almost every angle.
Anything else? Mr. Chung showed me how to use Tiptronic, which gives a virtual manual-driving experience. “See, how simple it is? Just click the stick to the left, that’s it. Now have a good time!”
Once on the road, driving was like a virtual driving game. A constant vvaarroom surrounded me, no matter how fast or slow I drove. Beyond the curved dashboard, the road looked practically surreal. I was extra vigilant, so not to fool my senses.
The 911 Porsche Carrera Cabriolet gives you the feel of the road. With the sound effects, the ride is tough, rough, and above all, fast. Though impossible in Seoul, I noticed the speedometer maxed out at 300 kilometers an hour.
With speed and power in mind, the 911 Carrera comes with a specially constructed six-boxer-style engine, boasting 320 horsepower. This car is supposed to be the ultimate symbol of Porsche technology.
So I tried the manual Tiptronic, the Porsche version. With a light click using either thumb, it switched from automatic to manual. “This is Thumb-tronic!” I laughed because it was too easy, too simple.
In status-conscious Apgujeong-dong, I expected open admiration from passersby. Instead, Armani-clad young men purposely averted their eyes when I stopped at traffic lights. Some pretended not to have noticed the convertible at all. Were they bitterly jealous of a woman riding in a dream car that costs 10 times as much as their Korean sports cars?
Now onto Olympic freeway: You’ll never be late with this car despite Seoul’s terrible traffic. This Porsche takes a mere 5.7 seconds to top 100 kilometers an hour.
The car has so much muscle that on the freeway, though it took just seconds to top 100, it felt as if I was going slow. Handling was light, yet sure and stable.
I wasn’t aware of the summer heat and humidity; the air conditioner is designed to cool and ventilate around the seat area.
The only discomfort I experienced was my long hair flying like crazy as the speedometer topped 145. I regretted not having asked Mr. Chung to put up the wind deflector that is inside the trunk.
Just like a dream date, my time with the Porsche flew by quickly. When I returned, Mr. Chung was surprised to see me. “Why are you back so early?” he asked.
I knew that, just like a date with a rock star, one afternoon would never be enough.
The 911 Carrera Cabriolet lists for 152,900,000 won ($127,500) in Korea.

by Ines Cho
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