2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet: Road Trip to New York, Day 3
April 15, 2013
Two nights and a day after my road trip in our 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet stalls out in Kansas (due to a mechanical problem with the driver, not the car), the Porsche and I are back on the road to New York. Of course, now the goal is to get to Manhattan in time for the second press day of the 2013 New York Auto Show. There won't be time to explore any crazy back roads or tour the battlefield at Gettysburg as I'd planned.
I'm just going to have to be content with the 911's entertainment value when it's pointed straight down Interstate 70 (and then 76, 78 and every other numbing Northeast artery that comes after that). The PDK seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission makes this pretty easy.
Forget about the philosophical dilemma a car guy faces in choosing the PDK over the conventional seven-speed manual transmission. I'm focusing on function here. And on I-70 with a worn driver behind the wheel, this thing is functionally an automatic transmission (yeah, even if it's actually something else).
Frankly, it's the best automatic available in 2013. Downshifts are so quick. The PDK serves them up exactly when it first occurs to you that you want the 911 to drop a gear or two. I remember using the paddle shifters to hold onto lower gears during my night on snowy U.S. 50, but on dry, mostly flat roads, the car doesn't need to me to help with the thinking.
I also don't have to out-think the 911's electric-assist power steering. We've written that the 991 generation sacrificed steering feel when it adopted EPS, and I'd hoped to judge that for myself on this trip. It's not going to happen now, but on the more boring roads that we all end up on now and then, this is one of only a few EPS-equipped cars that feels totally normal. I never fidget with the steering when I'm trying to go straight. There's a good sense of stability on-center. This is relaxing, and it's one of many reasons that our 911 convertible is a fine cross-country road trip car.
This is the only photo I have from my extended stop in Topeka, Kansas, by the way. It's notable because it's the only time during this trip when I don't worry about throwing out my back while loading my too-large suitcase. The ability to pull up to a curb at the Courtyard Marriott significantly reduces the liftover height as I heave the bag back into the 911's frunk.
Highlights from Topeka include a visit to a walk-in clinic and meals at local eateries like Chipotle and Panera. Everyone here is as nice as can be. I'd forgotten that people outside California are nice.
I can't stay here, though. My next stop is Wentzville, Missouri, which is significant only because it's the first time the 911 gets a tank of 93 octane since we bought it.
Other than getting much closer to New York, my goal for the day is dinner in St. Louis. Although medicated now, I require a therapeutic frozen custard from Ted Drewes on Chippewa Street (part of U.S. 66). Partly, the therapy is nostalgia, because I used to live in Missouri and have happy memories of gorging myself here. But, really, it's because this is the best frozen custard in the country, period.
I order my concrete with cookie dough, butterscotch and bananas. I think it's the same thing I ordered the last time I came here in our long-term Nissan GT-R. It's also one of the few cups that fits securely in the 911's half-hearted cupholders.
My photos make it look like I'm the only one here, but before long, there's a mini afternoon rush, never mind that it's only 40 degrees. Two days ago there was 9 inches of snow on the ground, or at least that's what my brother says. He's the other reason I've come here. He lives in The Grove neighborhood, which is old and cool looking. His old and cool brick house doesn't have its own garage, though, so I have to street-park the Porsche. It's either that or go without dinner (Ted Drewes was not dinner), which is not an option since he's promised to take me to his favorite neighborhood restaurant (it turns out to be a laidback Afghan place and the food is delicious).
Fortunately, I find a spot that's comfortably large. I'm able to spot the curb well enough with the side mirror, so the 19-inch wheels remain unharmed. I'd half expected our 911 to have a rearview camera and maybe some parking sensors, but I guess I shouldn't be asking the car to do everything for me.
After dinner, my brother gives me direction to his neighborhood's obscure onramp to U.S. 40 (seriously, it's like turning into someone's driveway), which eventually joins up with I-64 and I-70. From here, it's four hours to Indianapolis. As I check into a hotel near the airport around midnight, I know I've got a shot at making it to New York tomorrow.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 5,803 miles