Porsche recently invited us to try out their new Boxster Spyder on the Hawaiian island of Kona (The Big Island, as people like to call it). This was, without doubt, among the best press events we’ve ever been invited to, and because it was so special, we didn’t want to miss a second of it, and kept meticulous notes of our entire trip for you to enjoy. Here it is, word for word, reprinted here. For posterity sake, I’m sure.
Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 3:45 AM – Reno, NV
Alarm clock interrupts a Boxster Spyder-shaped dream. Harsh light and white walls of my bathroom shower await. My phone tells me it’s 19 degrees Fahrenheit here in the Sierras. Lets get this part over with.
4:15 AM –
Out the door. Greeted with a brisk morning and a frosted windshield. Project Boxster Clubsport shuttles me to the airport. How will Porsche’s new UberBoxster differ from our project car?
5:00 AM –
Parking garage. Rolling carry-on. Ticketing kiosk. Security.
5:15 AM –
Thanks to Reno-Tahoe’s efficiency and lack of early-morning Thursday passengers, the pre-boarding procedure isn’t too bad. My flights have all been upgraded, and despite the early morning rise, I’m in a pretty good mood. Who wouldn’t be? Seated in business class. Say ‘yes please’ to a mimosa.
5:17 AM –
Prior to takeoff, strike up a short conversation with the elderly Germanic man seated to my right. His stocking-shod feet are visible beneath velcro-strapped Birkenstock sandals. The Surfer Bro in front of him is rapid-fire swiping left through at least 200 potential Tinder-mates before takeoff.
6:40 AM – San Francisco, CA
Disembark at SFO airport with two hours to burn before my next flight, I find a cubicle with loose outlets and set about getting some writing done while I still have downtime. The cubicle next to mine is occupied by a sleeping traveler who has rolled a sweatshirt into a makeshift pillow.
9:00 AM –
Board the plane for Hawaii. 5 more hours of relative discomfort and I’ll be there. I say yes to a Mai Tai.
Noon – Hilo, HI
I’ve been two additional hours of life today. Unfortunately it only prolongs the time I have to wait until I get behind the wheel of the Spyder. Is the weight loss spurious? Will the new top be less fiddly than the previous generation? Which options are necessary and which are not?
1:00 PM –
A traditional Hawaiian greeting, lei-included. Sit down for a lunch with the Porsche Public Relations folks while the remainder of the press invitees trickle in from their flights.
1:05 PM –
Say yes to a Mai Tai.
2:00 PM –
Take my things to my room, change into shorts and a t-shirt. My phone tells me it’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit here in the Pacific. Further investigation of the hotel shows off a man-made tropical paradise river flowing through the center of the building complete with sea turtles, rays, koi, and many other forms of tropical fish. Absolutely amazed.
3:00 PM –
Return to Porsche’s makeshift headquarters, one of the Hotel’s bungalows. Video of the Boxster Spyder shot the previous day plays on a television in the corner. A conversation ensues between myself and Porsche representatives concerning the ability to stay grounded and avoid getting jaded when attending events like this. One of them replies “Get this man a drink, he’s starting to make sense!”. We all laugh.
3:05 PM –
Say yes to a Mai Tai.
3:30 PM –
Sit on the beach and pontificate for a while.
3:35 PM –
Say yes to a Mai Tai.
4:00 PM –
Retreat back to my room to get some writing done and grab a shower before dinner.
6:00 PM –
Properly prepared for dinner, I find an empty hammock oceanside and watch the sun slowly lower itself into the Pacific.
6:30 PM –
Walk from my relaxing hammock over to where Porsche has set up our dining accommodations on the beach. I set about mingling with other journalist-types, discussing the car with people who had driven it that day and those who were scheduled to drive it the following morning. We discuss the car’s capabilities, the day’s activities, the routes we’d be driving, and the future of Porsche as a brand.
It doesn’t take long for me to realize that I’ve overdressed by wearing shoes and a tucked in shirt. Untuck, unshoe, dial back my posture a bit, and give a half dozen “Hang Loose” hand gestures to get into the right frame of mind. Hula lessons are coming up shortly, and I’ve got to be relaxed and loose for that.
6:35 PM –
Say yes to the many Mai Tais.
Friday, December 4th, 2015 5:00 AM –
Wake to a head cold and ears that have not yet popped from the long flight. I feel miserable, but I couldn’t be more excited. Today is driving day!
7:00 AM –
Breakfast in the Porsche bungalow. Say no to a Mai Tai. Today is driving day!
8:00 AM –
We begin the day with top operation instructions. Button – Buttresses – Decklid – Top – Decklid – Flaps. Okay, now when can we have some keys?
8:30 AM –
Start your engines! I’m the first journalist to lower the top, the first in a car, the first to fire the engine, and the first on the road. It’s been a cold winter for me so far, and I haven’t had the top down in my own Boxster since September. Driving with the top down is a welcome return to the joyful experience of wind in your hair. For today, there is no better car in the world, and no better place to drive it.
The car I’ve chosen is painted in Jet Black Metallic, and it looked great against all backdrops, but especially great when contrasted with the muted black of the volcanic rock on the “dry side” of the island. 20 minutes in, and I can note: Seats – Good, Shifter – Excellent, Exhaust note – Haunting, Engine response – Immediate, Spyder Classic Interior – Beautiful.
9:00 AM –
Only half an hour into our route book, my navigator advises me to take a wrong turn. We end up on nearly the complete opposite side of the island from our lunch stop for the day, and we miss our first checkpoint. Even though we were nearly an hour out of our way, we managed to catch up to the tail end of the group. The car is quick and capable, and while we likely bent the meaning of a 40 MPH speed limit, the car never missed a beat. There is a road called “Saddle” that was the highlight of the driving day. Curvy, twisty, natural, and flowing, that road is a sports-car driver’s daydream. It had nice smooth pavement, and lots of hills. There were a number of blind curves that required a bit of trepidation, but with enough respect for the road and the car, it was easily passable.
11:10 AM –
We arrive a bit late to lunch, but not nearly as late as we had feared. Our stop for the mid-day nosh was a small roadside stand called “Off The Grid” and it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. The fresh pineapple and mango were killer, but the juicy roast chicken drumsticks were heaven on a plate. Behind the ‘restaurant’ was a paddock with horses and a donkey. They were so cute, it almost drew a tear to my eye. Perhaps that was oceanic mist, or the salt in the air, however.
With little time to eat, we’re back on the road in order to make our next stop along the way. We’ve got to make it all the way across the island to see something really cool.
1:00 PM –
A boy of about 12 walking on the sidewalk in the town of Hilo yelled “Hey, nice car!” So I kicked in the clutch and gave him a 6,000 RPM salute. I hope he didn’t like his eardrums.
1:45 PM –
Two hitch hikers gave us a thumbs up.
2:00 PM –
We arrive at our next destination, a small parking lot with some stairs leading down over a steep hillside. The stairs lead to something called the Akaka Falls. There is something amazing about waterfalls that makes them mesmerizing. There are three things I could watch go on in perpetuity; a roaring fire, a zamboni clearing the ice, and a nice tall waterfall. Sadly we only have half an hour or so to take it in, and we’ve got to get back on the road.
3:00 PM –
Our route-book instructs us to pull in to the airport and dismount. There are helicopters waiting here to take everyone back to the hotel. The helicopter tour is said to give exquisite views of the island, and its large active volcano. There is no part of me that wants to participate in this.
Early in the day, when I found out there would be a helicopter tour, I asked if it would be possible for me to sit out. First, I don’t like heights. Second, I really don’t like heights. I asked the Porsche folks how I would get back to the hotel if I were to pass on the helicopter. They said they could lend me a Boxster Spyder to drive back to the hotel if I liked. Oh, so instead of taking a ride in a flying death machine over the gaping maw of molten hot lava, I got to take a refreshing drive by myself back to the hotel in a car that I’d already fallen in love with? Where do I sign up?
“When do you need the car back by?” I asked.
“Dinner is at 6. See you then!” they replied.
You see, readers, I really do all of this for your sake. I’m here in Hawaii to test this car so you know if you want to spend your money on one or not. Really, by testing the car for a few additional hours, I’m being selfless.
3:10 PM –
Gas ’em up and head back for more!
4:00 PM –
I get another shot at Saddle Road. This time by myself, so I don’t have anyone in the passenger’s seat to worry about. No sick passenger. No ballast weight. Just me, the Spyder, and the ribbon of road ahead. It was fantastic in the literal sense of the word. Like something out of a fantasy. I take an extra trip back up and back down that road, just to be sure I’ve had my fun with it.
5:00 PM –
Coming around a sharp blind bend, a little bird takes flight directly into my path. I spend the next 5 minutes pulling feathers out of the Spyder’s gaping mouth. This Spyder has captured prey and doesn’t want to let it go. My eyes get a little misty again, surely from the salty air, I reassure myself. From the looks of the front bumper, the Spyder had been catching a whole lot of bugs, too.
5:30 PM –
One final stop for photos. The lighting was just too good.
6:00 PM –
Returned to the hotel just in time for dinner.
Said yes to a Mai Tai.