Editor Marissa Carruthers hits the roads of Singapore to sample the smooth Porsche Boxster GTS.
A lump forms in my throat as a rather swish, toy-sized Porsche is thrust into the palm of my hand. “The key,” says our instructor, Richard Tan, reading the confusion on my face. Moments earlier Tan had informed me and my media companion that we were about to be let loose on the roads of Singapore, alone, behind the wheel of a $130,000 car.
Thankfully, as memories of severely scratching the passenger side of my first car during its debut drive flashed through my mind, he added insurance covers any damages. We chuckled together – me more from relief – as he recalled the previous duo of journalists scratching the 2015 Porsche Boxster GTS we have been invited to test drive. My smile soon turns to a grimace as I squint to spot the minute fleck left by the drivers. The deep scars left in the paintwork of my second-hand Renault Clio and wing mirror flapping helplessly from the body of the car returned.
However, Tan remained unperturbed by my obvious nerves. He didn’t flinch when I informed him I hadn’t really driven since moving to Cambodia three years ago, bar a few short rides during brief trips back home. And all he did was smile when I added that my car experience extends from the Clio to, well, a Nissan Micra – and they were both manual.
This proves the confidence Porsche has in the combination of elite engineering, mechanics, design and technology that has made the name globally synonymous with luxury sports cars. “Trust me, you’ll have the time of your lives,” Tan says as we step outside the Fullerton Bay Hotel, the colonial pillars at its grand entrance providing the perfect backdrop to the parked up convertible.
There’s no questioning its beauty, or the butterflies starting in my stomach, as we stand next to the car. Its gleaming white body oozes sex appeal, screams speed and embodies power in the form of many horses – 330 (horsepower) to be precise. It doesn’t take long for excitement to replace the nerves, and as Tan opens the door to the driver’s seat, revealing an interior just as superior as the exterior, I’m raring to rev the engine and set off into the sunset.
Tan quickly runs over the essentials before showcasing the features the two-seater, third generation Boxster boasts: dual-zone air conditioning, supped up navigation, park assisting (phew), automatic beam control to sense when it’s getting dark, a warning system to alert you when your skirting too close to another vehicle, curb or object (again, phew) to name a few.
I sink into the soft black leather seat and sit in awe as the steering wheel automatically adjusts itself to suit my needs. With the grey skies above threatening rain and dampening my vision of racing through Singapore with the wind blowing through my hair, Tan shows us how to put the roof up – a flick of a switch and a silent few seconds later, we’re locked inside our mid-engined Boxster bubble oblivious to the outside world.
After slotting the ‘toy car’ handed to me earlier into the ignition, the engine literally purrs into life; the roar of the exhaust as I gently push down on the pedal stirring flutters of excitement in both myself and the small crowd of passers-by who have gathered around to watch the beast awaken.
Once again reading my mind, Tan reaches through the window and presses one of many buttons on the slick central console. Sport mode. “Try it now,” he says, almost drowned out by the almighty vrmmmms coming from the car. Then there’s Sport Plus mode that ups the game further, sharpening throttle response, firming up suspension and tightening steering response. And, of course, it raises those decibels even further.
As I revved up the engine and slotted the gear into drive, the nerves returned. Generally I avoid the stresses of trying to negotiate my way through cities, let alone bustling capitals during my first visit. However, Porsche had kindly programmed several routes into the superior sat nav, showcasing some of the city’s top spots while offering diverse driving conditions to enable us to truly test the latest Boxster model.
As we pulled away from our stunning Marina Bay location, roof down, we took a short drive along the highway to get used to the car. Tan was right. There was nothing to be worried about. In fact, driving has never been easier with it involving nothing much apart from keeping an eye on the road and the occasional light steering.
Our second route took us on an enthralling 22km drive to Kent Ridge Park, where the 47-hectare pristine public park offers hairpin roads winding up the hill to its peak. Here, the twists and turns that slice through the lush green trees that look out over the ship-congested Singapore Straits on the horizon are navigated with both ease and precision as the Boxster steered effortlessly through the landscape.
Next up was a long stretch of highway, where, despite the even gloomier sky, we raced along the open road, the sound of the exhaust reverberating behind us, with the top down. With clear roads ahead, this was my cue to put the Porsche’s speed to the test. With an acceleration of 0 to 60mph in 4.9 seconds and boasting a top speed of 174mph, sticking within the speed limit was undoubtedly the hardest task of the day.
After a good five hours of cruising the streets of Singapore, the only question left on my mind as we parked outside the Fullerton hotel was, how can I ever go back to driving my Micra again?
The Porsche Boxster GTS can be ordered through the Porsche Centre Phnom Penh. Prices start from $133,500. All cars are imported by official importer Precision Cars (Cambodia) Limited, and are specked to suit Cambodia’s road conditions.