To say that it was intimidating driving a Porsche on the narrow roads of Pulau Langkawi is a vast understatement.
Apart from my general lack of confidence in handling vehicles, there was a very real fear that I might need to sell my kidney on the black market if anything happened to the Porsche under my care. I was unsure if I was able to take the helm of a car that carries so much prestige. Boy, was I in for a big surprise.
Navigating my way around Langkawi was more effortless than I had expected. But it had little to do with my driving skills, which – let’s be honest – are mediocre at best. The car did most of the work for me. All I needed to do was step on the pedal, get in gear and make sure I steered in the right direction. Oh, and to look cool while I was at it. Little did I know the Porsche does that for you too.
I was selected to be part of the first wave of the two-day “Driving Dreams With Porsche” programme, which kicked off in early October. The last time I was in the beautiful island of Langkawi, it was under a completely different set of circumstances. I was reporting on the Rohingya refugee crisis and had little time to explore the island in its entirety.
Coming to Langkawi specifically for this programme, I was looking forward to discovering more of the island. Being able to do just that while test-driving different Porsche models, however, was an unexpected privilege.
I arrived at the Langkawi International Airport with a group of lifestyle writers and motoring journalists from the Klang Valley. We were greeted by a convoy of Porsche cars waiting to chauffeur us to the Four Seasons Resort in Tanjung Rhu.
One car immediately caught my attention – the sleek, classy and devilishly red Porsche Cayman GTS.
Without giving a second thought to the other cars, I hopped into the Cayman with two seasoned motoring journalists as co-passengers. While they admired the intricacies of the car and its technical details – shooting off unfamiliar motoring jargon – I was lulled by the smooth drive to the resort.
Another surprise of the luxurious sort was waiting for us at the Four Seasons Resort. As we alighted our respective Porsche cars, a line of resort staff was waiting to usher us to our lodging. Each writer had an entire pavilion – with indoor jacuzzis no less – all to him or herself. Quite accustomed to couchsurfing or staying at backpackers’ hostels while travelling, this transition was a pleasant change from what I was used to.
At night, we were treated to a relaxed welcome dinner during which the public relations manager of Porsche Asia Pacific, Calista Tambajong, introduced the different current Porsche model lines and the Porsche design philosophy; which is the cornerstone of the brand’s success. Each writer was lent an iPad and asked to design his or her dream Porsche. The message of this exercise was simple – Porsche owners are able to customise their cars to their liking. This personal touch is what makes each Porsche car unique.
The second day was when the real fun started. The day kicked off with the writers participating in an experiential photography workshop by premium German brand Leica Camera under the guidance of Richard Chen, a renowned fashion photographer from Singapore. We were handed our very own Leica T Camera System for the entire session. However, there was a catch. We would be using the Leica T to snap photos of the cars that we were test driving as well as scenery we’d be driving by as part of a day-long competition where the best photographer stood to win a special gift from Porsche.
The driving experience kicked off after a safety briefing and introduction to the iconic Porsche 911. Still nervous about handling a car of Porsche’s stature, I happily let my co-driver take the wheel of the first car we would be test-driving, which as fate would have it, was the Cayman that caught my fancy the previous day. Our first stop was the historic lighthouse on Kok Beach.
We made a brief stop midway to Kok Beach to do the driver exchange. I was a bit nervous, but gained confidence as my co-driver had already driven a Porsche Panamera. It took a bit of getting used to driving the Cayman, but by the time we reached the lighthouse, I felt like a proper rock star behind the wheel of what may just be one of the best sports cars in the world.
My co-driver and I covered nearly 200km of ground around the island. We test-drove the Cayman, Panamera, Cayenne and Carrera from the Four Seasons Resort all the way to the historic Lighthouse to the Datai Gold Club where we enjoyed lunch with a spectacular view. Our last stop was the highest mountain in Langkawi, Gunung Raya, and it was also the most challenging route throughout the entire driving experience.
The last car we test-drove was the Carrera, which happened to be a crowd favourite during the programme. I was a bundle of nerves when I first test-drove the Cayman, but after familiarising myself with the cars throughout the day – driving down Gunung Raya in the Carrera felt like a walk in the park. Even manoeuvring around tight corners was effortless. The ease in which a driver such as myself was able to handle a car of such stature was a true testament to the quality and driveability of the Porsche.
It had been an adventure of a lifetime.