Road Diaries: Test Driving a Porsche Through the Hamptons

Monday, July 25, 2016

Depending upon the day, driving in the Hamptons can be a car enthusiast’s dream; or a logistical nightmare. The roads are long and windy, but the traffic is epic. The scenery is unspoiled, but the turns are painfully narrow.

Get behind a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, however, and dichotomy between the pros and cons of driving out East quickly fade into the rearview mirror. There are only pluses to Hamptons driving, as the Porche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet seamlessly integrates all of the latest technology in such a way that whether you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic or freely navigating along the curves of back roads, you’ll always feel in control.

Intrigued? Now, while relaxing out in the Hamptons, you’ll be able to test drive a Porsche. Porsche is currently in the middle of a four-month summer intensive driving program, where Hamptonites are able to sign up to take a Porsche out for a spin.

I tried out the program under sunny skies this week. My driving instructor was Keith McIntosh of the Porsche Sport Driving School. Porsche operates several driving schools across the globe. The sport driving school near Birmingham, Alabama is the most intensive, with drivers having the option of participating in one-, two- or three-day programs. The school is located in the Barber Motorsports Park, which was built by George Barber, who has the Guinness Book of World Records largest collection of motorcycles. A portion of his motorcycles rotate on display at the facility.

Before heading out, Keith walked me through my ride’s specs. The bright yellow Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet had bright yellow seatbelts. The color matched the blazing sun, and the temptation to drive the convertible through Water Mill was strong. As I commented about the perfect driving conditions, Keith noted that people drive their sports cars through all types of weather, and that a wintertime Porsche driving school in Canada often sells out. The models come in four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive and, McIntosh notes, car technology has come so far as to make it so that the all-wheel drive vehicles have virtually the same fuel economy as the rear-wheel drive.

Porsche has been making its 911 model for 52 continuous years, a record in the automobile industry. New for 2017, all of the 911 models are turbo charged. The S in the 911 S means that the car has 50 more horsepower than the original 911 model, for a total engine power output of 420 horsepower. More specs, for the gear heads: The maximum torque is 368 lb.-ft., available from as low as 1,700 rpm. The 911 Carrera S with a standard 7-speed manual transmission accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, with a top track speed of 191 mph.

That may be a little fast for Hamptons back roads, but I got behind the wheel with the hopes of hitting some open roads, even on a Friday afternoon.

I picked up the car, and my driving instructor, at the Holiday House Hamptons designer home, located in Water Mill. After meandering through the Montauk Highway traffic, we drove from Head of Ponds Road to Scuttlehole, eventually landing on the Bridge-Sag Turnpike and onto Montauk Highway, back toward Water Mill. The car is able to adapt to the driver, as it intuitively learns your driving style. For example, if you are someone who is a smooth driver, rarely hitting the pedals hard, but then you slam your foot down, the Porsche will realize that something is wrong and will break even faster. The car also knows what gear you’re in and readies a gear below or a gear above, so that if you find yourself in a sudden incline, there is no bucking—or even a sound—as you switch into a different gear.


The convertible top was down for the duration of my drive, as we sped along the streets, but if we found ourselves in a sudden rain storm, we would be able to raise the roof while traveling at speeds of up to 30 mph. When you’re turning, the rear tires also turn up to four degrees, helping drivers to make tighter turns—perfect for fitting into narrow parking spots. The headlights also turn with the vehicle, illuminating the windy backroads of the Hamptons.

Our ride was smooth, and McIntosh instructed me to always look beyond the car in front of me when driving, so that I can anticipate any hazards at the same time as that driver, thus making my driving safer, as it is more pro-active and less reactionary.

Porsche stays true to its racing roots in every respect. The key is on the left side of the steering wheel, paying homage to the 24 hour races in Europe, where drivers would run across the track when the time came to change. In this instance, Porsche realized that it would be more efficient if the key were on the left, because you use your right hand to switch gears. Though drivers no longer change as aggressively, Porsche still participates in the 24 hour races, often winning, a testament to its longevity.

Even within the confines of Hamptons speed limits, however, the ride is exhilarating.

Anyone interested in test driving a Porche can register to test drive a Porsche now through the end of the summer at porschedrivingevent.com/hamptontestdrives. Use passcode Carrera991


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