We drove both the Boxsters through the autocross and were able to notice a slight difference in speed, but they were both quick. More important was how balanced and controlled each felt. Porsche was making a point to show that even a base model Boxster is a blast to drive due to the mid-engine set-up and balanced chassis.
In talking with some of the other group members, we learned that most of them had never autocrossed before. Many people in our group enjoyed this station and were highly impressed with the Boxster's driving performance.
Next we headed over to the wet skid pad. Porsche had a base Carrera on hand to demonstrate Porsche Stability Management (PSM). We were to go around a circle of cones and tip into the throttle near the double cones.
The first two times around the circle we had PSM on, and it quickly attempted to reign in the Carrera as it lost traction and spun out. We ended up spinning 180 degrees before coming to a stop. When performing the same exact maneuver with PSM off, the Carrera spun 360 degrees twice before coming to a stop.
As each participant stepped out of the Carrera, their faces told it all. If they didn't understand what stability control did before, they certainly did after.
The third station was a mini road course, which had both the Carrera and Panamera 4 awaiting our arrival. We were first assigned a white Carrera with the PDK transmission. The base Carrera was quick and we really liked the metal paddles which were attached to the steering column (the correct way to offer paddles).
During the second session around the road course we found ourselves behind the wheel of a burgundy Panamera 4. We wondered how the big, heavy sedan would handle the road course with a V-6 and all-wheel drive. While not as quick as the other Porsches we had been driving all day, the Panamera 4 hustled around the track faster than you might expect. The steering was lighter than the Carrera and less responsive. Even with the air suspension in Sport Plus mode, body roll was present, but it was predictable.