Porsche is a German sports car brand owned by the Piëch and Porsche families, and Qatar Holdings. The company was founded by in 1931 by Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian engineer, and Porsche's son-in-law Anton Piëch, an Austrian lawyer. It is now part of the Volkswagen group, which also makes and markets Audis and Bugatti Veyrons.


PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2008, 12:00am

Smart choice by Italians

Hip marque Smart says readers of Italy's Quattroruote magazine have voted the ForTwo Cdi Le auto che preferisco, their favourite car.

'The Smart ForTwo Cdi was the first car in the world to realise an average fuel economy of 3.3 litres per 100km over a total drive of 1,000km,' the marque quotes the magazine as saying. 'This is an excellent result, which meets the highest demands concerning environmental aspects and energy conservation - combined in a car which is affordable by everyone.' Thanks to its direct-injection diesel engine the Smart Fortwo Cdi spews just 88 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, making it the world's CO2-Champion, the marque says.

'The Smart ForTwo has already been awarded the OkoGlobe and an environmental certificate from Germany's 'Oko-Trend' institute,' Smart says.

The 'world's CO2-Champion' is still unavailable in Hong Kong, so we asked the Smart showroom why. 'I don't know,' a representative said. This is not the first time we have wondered why this little diesel, the marque's environmental showcase, can be a star in Europe but a no-no in Hong Kong. We again invite Mercedes-Benz, Smart or their Zung Fu dealers to explain this matter.

Porsche sports a new look

Porsche Centre Hong Kong has a Cayenne GTS in its showroom with manual versions costing HK$1,280,000 and Tiptronic S's for HK$1,298,000.

Launched at the Frankfurt motor show in September and first presented in Hong Kong at the Jebsen Race Day at Sha Tin on January 27, the GTS has 'an enhanced' 4.8-litre V8 block, has been lowered by 24mm and has 'a specially developed chassis', says the dealer's spokeswoman, Mabel Wong.

The front and rear look the same as the Cayenne Turbo, 'and the 14mm wheel-arch enlargements offer plenty of space for the standard 21-inch alloy rims with 295/35 R21 tyres', Wong says.

The all-wheel-drive GTS is also the first Cayenne to feature the electronically controlled damping system, Porsche Active Suspension Management, with steel springs, the dealer says. The fuel injection in this 405hp Cayenne yields 298kW at 6,500rpm - 20bhp more than in the Cayenne S. Maximum torque remains unchanged at 500Nm at 3,500rpm, Wong says.

'This, the sportiest of Porsche SUVs, comes as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox and a shorter axle drive ratio than the Cayenne S [4.1:1 as opposed to 3.55:1],' she says. 'The Cayenne GTS can thus accelerate to 100km/h in just 6.1 seconds, half a second quicker than the Cayenne S.'

Interiors are also fitted with a leather-Alcantara mix and newly developed 12-way sports seats, she says.

Boot storage folds down from 540 litres to 1,749 litres, Porsche says.

The GTS makes a fine boast, but watch its thirst. The dealer says the Tiptronic S version of the GTS has an average fuel consumption of 13.9 litres/100 km in accordance with EU standards. That's fine if you're driving in a mix of urban and highway conditions, but closer scrutiny of the marque's specifications reveals that this thirst rises in town to 22.6l/100km for the manual and 20.6l/100km for the Tiptronic S. The manual GTS also spews 361 grams of CO2 per kilometre while the Tiptronic S belches 332gpk.

Some fresh comfort

Some readers might shudder at the thought of dropping the top of a convertible in Hong Kong's chill, but we recommend you give it a go. Most convertibles have heaters that are designed to withstand a Hokkaido or Bavarian winter and some are probably warmer inside on a run in the New Territories than some flats in Mid-Levels. There's also no better time to settle into the heated seats of your Arctic-tested Volvo (see Wire wheels, above).

So, we and our Visayan passenger wrapped up in a woolly hat, four layers of clothing and Hong Kong taxi driver gloves (value HK$3), and dropped the top of our 1991 MX-5 (above) for a zoom to Ngon Ping on the coldest day of the year. The rosy cheeked ride revealed a few tips.

If you have a manual top remember that the clear plastic in its rear window is likely to be more brittle in the cold, and therefore more likely to split when you push it back. Most open windscreens whoosh light drizzle off you while you are moving, but you risk a drenching when you halt. If you have an electronic roof, you might have to endure cold rain for 20 to 30 seconds until it whirs shut.

The upholstery in most convertibles can endure lighter rain, but if you're worried about fabric upkeep in Hong Kong weather beyond November and December you might buy a coupe instead.

Make sure your heater works before you set off, for many systems hibernate for several months here and need waking up gradually from low settings. Then run it at full blast for a minute, just to clear the system of the summer's dead insects. Such checks also remind you of what blast does what, first in demisting your all-round view of the road and then directing the nozzles first on the hands, then the feet. If your car's dashboard designers have done their homework, and you can zero your heater nozzles' blast to your knuckles at the nine and three o' clock positions on the wheel, you should be able to drive for as long as you like in Hong Kong's cold without gloves, as we did in Ngon Ping. If you've dropped your convertible's top in the cold, do send us pictures on cars@scmp.com


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