Porsche 911 Carrera: Match car to road. Result – bliss!
Our favourite driving road of all does not zig-zag its way over some lofty Alpine pass nor straight-line across the spectacular badlands of America’s vast Wild West.
It isn’t Ireland’s own spectacular Antrim Coast Road either, fabled though that ribbon of black tarmac might be.
No, it starts just five miles from arrivals at Stansted Airport and wends its way across North Essex, stringing together a succession of sleepy little picture postcard villages.
You pick it up at Dunmow, famed for its ancient flitch ceremony, then motor through Duck End, Great Bardfield, chocolate box pretty Finchingfield, Wethersfield and on to Sible Hedingham. But for most of the way you’ll be in thoroughly unspoiled open countryside, and that means 20 miles plus of motoring bliss not more than 50 miles north of traffic strangled London.
It’s a little hillier than you might expect but rush hour in these parts comprises two tractors on the way to the pub so traffic is no problem.
With its rapid-fire succession of sweeping bends and blistering straights – and clear, safe views of the road ahead – it’s irresistibly intoxicating, so much so that, on first acquaintance, I felt compelled to turn around straight away and do it all over again.
The bonus is that the opposite direction seems like a very different road yet is just as much fun, with bends opening out that tighten up when driving the other way.
Visit mid-week because at weekends the route is infested by thrill seeking motorcyclists as well as pedal cyclists training for events like the Tour de France, which passed this way last summer.
And what better vehicle to test your performance driving skills here than Porsche’s iconic 911?
It’s close on two decades since I last drove one of these and while the styling still pays homage to the past, they’ve come on a long way since those days and now reek of quality both in terms of materials and the way they are put together.
The engine still hangs out behind the rear wheels but the handling is now altogether more civilised and easy to read. The seat of your pants will tell you what’s going on and if you should lose it then it is almost certainly your own fault.
The 3.4-litre six-cylinder engine is more than up to the job, rushing the car to 62-mph in just 4.8 seconds, with a 179-mph top speed. Drive with a light foot and, say the makers, a relatively frugal 45-mpg is attainable but around 25-mpg is more likely to be the norm. At the same time this is a supercar that’s placid enough in traffic to let your granny take the wheel. And, surprisingly they’ve even managed to squeeze some decent luggage space into the design, though the two supposed rear seats for kids are more akin to a parcel shelf.
My drive took me far out into the wilds of East Anglia and with each mile that whizzed by I became more attuned to a transmission that demanded very precise movements – being either in or out of gear, with no room for error.
Stringing all those exquisitely engineered bends together on my adrenalin rush back to the airport convinced that roads like B????? and the lively Porsche Carrera were made for each other.
All I need to repeat the otherwise once in a lifetime experience is a cool £73,413 and a Ryanair ticket to London Stansted.
Belfast Telegraph Digital