On my daily commute, I often take my Macan on a route through scenic Valley Forge National Historic Park, known especially for two things – the harsh winter encampment of the Continental Army led by George Washington during the American Revolutionary War, and an overpopulation of white-tailed deer.
Deer are, unfortunately, accustomed to the sights and sounds of progress, so traffic is merely an annoyance as they make their way to the safety of the trees before the sun peeks above the horizon. I’m normally vigilant through this section of my drive because they move quickly – and if you spot one, you can bet another is right behind.
But on this particular morning I was distracted in thought and didn’t notice the movement in my peripheral. As I began a right-hand downhill sweep, the adaptive headlights of my Porsche Macan washed over the shape of a quickly moving doe entering the road directly in front of me.
I buried my shoe into the brake pedal and simultaneously drew the steering wheel away from the shoulder to avoid the creature now launching across my hood – close enough to see the matted underside of her coat. The ABS chattered below my straining foot, and the front of the Macan dipped as she disappeared into the meadow on the other side of the road.
This Wasn't The First Time
I recovered quickly enough – it’s not the first time this has happened, and it won’t likely be the last. Only a few years earlier, I was driving my Cayman through a ravine just north of my neighborhood, and I nearly collided with a much larger male version of the same species.
There are a few things that immediately follow a near miss such as this, in generally the same order. Regain composure – back into the proper lane at the appropriate speed, check surroundings, catch your breath and finally digest the various components of the incident.
But after a few sobering minutes, my mind couldn’t help but consider the technology at play in the milliseconds of that moment – the collectively thoughtful engineering that saved an accident, but could also have spared my life under other circumstances. Porsche did not invent these technologies, but they unquestionably capitalize on their capabilities.
I thought little of adaptive lighting when I first bought my Macan – it was bundled in a package of other goodies that I felt were more important at the time. But I am grateful for that early glimpse of my very fortunate acquaintance that morning as I’m pretty sure the outcome would have been different had it not been for the illumination it provided.
Braking in a Porsche has been impressing drivers for decades – so why other manufacturers have not caught on is beyond me. I can haul down virtually any model I’ve driven in a marginally shorter distance than competitors. It isn’t just the enormity of the discs and calipers (they are huge), but how they also work in harmony with the tires and suspension.
Porsche Stability Management (or PSM – also known affectionately as Please Save Me), monitors the ABS sensors, vehicle and engine speed, throttle position, gear selection, wheel position, lateral acceleration and a host of other elements – and then judiciously applies the brakes in such a way as to correct vehicle behavior.
I grew up a muscle car addict, so I’ve always been partial to massive tires. But beyond aesthetics, wider profiles also have the benefit of surplus contact to road surface, which translates to improved stability and overall handling characteristics. I don’t know that I’ve ever looked at a modern Porsche and wondered if the tires were too thin.
You Can't Outsmart the Technology
What might be even more amazing is that these features are combined in such a way that we don’t even notice they are active under most normal driving conditions. It’s only when we really mess-up that we experience their contribution. PSM should therefore always be left in the on position – trying to outsmart this technology is futile.
These are of course more obvious features that facilitate accident avoidance, but they are also the same enhancements that contribute to an extraordinary driving quotient. It’s the main contributor of what we like about the Porsche brand in the first place – astonishing performance at the limits that is even more amazing at respectable speeds.
It doesn’t end there, however
Sometimes what you don’t notice is the most impressive of all. Take instrumentation, driver position and their relationship to controls. Pedal placement, gearshift location and the ability to adjust perfectly to your requirements is where Porsche over-engineering really pays off.
This functionality and ergonomic assignment contributes directly to driver control. And a driver in control is a safer driver – an alert driver, one who can better react to real world conditions. I have no doubt that doe and I would have been more closely acquainted if I was driving our other car.
So by the time I got to work that morning, I was thankful to have been driving my Macan, and appreciative of the effort that happens behind the scenes deprived of my consideration. Collectively, it’s these remarkable technologies that kept my morning commute the proverbial drive in the park – rather than a tow to the body shop.