A friend once called me a buffet’s best friend, but worst enemy is probably more accurate.
Put a nice spread in front of me and I will methodologically pick it to the bone like a vulture working over the remains of a lost hiker, pausing only to give my fine feathered friends a shot at the goods.
Still, it always amazes at how often I find myself at fancy soirees where everyone stands around socializing the entire time rather than partaking in the delectable treats before them. What’s the point in that?
I’m referring to cars, of course, not food. But in my case, the above probably applies to both. Perhaps I’m just a glutton.
In any event, Porsche recently stopped by the Monticello Motor Club in New York to showcase a collection of its wares for about 1,000 current and prospective customers who cycled through the venue over the course of a weekend. Seven different models were lined up for laps on the track itself and I, among a small gathering of journalists, was given just 2 hours to test drive them all. There were four different 911s on hand, and three of Porsche’s mid-engine offerings. Unfortunately, the upcoming $845,000 918 Spyder was not one of them. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for that one.
Now, I’d never judge a chef by tasting just one of his canapés, nor would I do the same to a car after a lap or two around a racing circuit, but having driven several of these models before, getting into them back to back in such a short period of time did offer an interesting new perspective on each.
Just months away from being replaced by an all-new model you would think that the base 911 would feel over the hill, but since it is the core of a model line that’s been slowly evolving for the better part of five decades, it’s not exactly the kind of thing that ever feels dated.
From its exquisitely finished interior to its impeccable road manners, the classic $79G Carrera is the pinnacle of luxurious sports cars, and its place in your cardiologists driveway is well earned. Underpowered compared to many lesser vehicles today, it is an overachiever that only disappoints when you drive one of the nearly two dozen other 911 models that exist above it on the food chain.
With 40 extra horsepower, more aggressive tires and a stiffer suspension, the $92G Carrera S moves the 911 into serious performance territory. Driving it immediately after the Carrera, you realize how limited the car that you thought was near perfect actually is. The S does much more without too much more, and the 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission that both of these particular examples were fitted with starts to feel less like a crutch, and more like an instrument.
All-wheel-drive and even wider rubber than the Carrera S make the $98G Carrera 4S easy to drive quickly. The car practically corrects itself in fast turns and does so without much of the tendency to understeer -- or push -- that is typically exhibited by powerful all-wheel-drive sports cars. Having power delivered to each wheel pays double dividends when the weather turns bad and makes this one the one to chose for those who want a 911, but don’t necessarily feel the need to learn how to master it.
This is a 911? Compared to the other cars tested here, the $103G GTS comes across as an entirely different vehicle. An easier breathing engine pumps out 408 hp through a sport exhaust that sounds like it was tuned by a team of engineers from Valhalla. It has the wide bodywork of the 4S, but with rear-wheel-drive (AWD is available) and a uniquely designed standard active suspension. An Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel and aggressively bolstered seats put you in a position to extract its maximum potential, and there’s much to be extracted.
Dive into your first fast turn and you instantly realize you aren’t going fast enough. The grip is several planes above the 911’s positioned below it on the food chain. By the time you dial in enough steering and add enough throttle to take advantage of it you’re already through the turn and on your way to the next one, hoping that you have what it takes to get it right next time. The GTS is a tour de force touring car.
If the Boxster is Porsche’s “chick car,” then the $59G Boxster S is the Danica Patrick of Boxsters. Both are excellent drives, but with 55 more horsepower and a top speed of 170, this one feels a little more at home on the track, even if it is still best suited for topless cruising on coastal roads.
More than any other car, the $62G Boxster Spyder embodies the full history and spirit of Porsche. The lightest car the automaker currently sells, it is a stripped-down, powered-up version of the Boxster that is as pure to form as any serious sports car currently made. Tossed through a short and twisty course, it feels like riding on the head of a snake as it slithers after its prey. This one was meant to have the top down at all times and it’s ridiculously complex, lightweight bikini roof will encourage you to oblige.
Essentially a Boxster Spyder with a hardtop and 10 extra hp, the $66G Cayman R is a ferocious little beast. Remember that snake I mentioned? Well, this is the mongoose that chases it down and eats it alive. If there is an autocross in heaven, there are many of these having it for lunch. Air conditioning is optional, and that's surprisingly refreshing.
Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.