Driving the Porsche 928 is like glimpsing an alternate vision of Porsche's future. The 928, remember, was originally conceived to replace the 911. Obviously, that didn't happen. And when you're driving a 928, you can see why.
It's not that the 928 is a worse car than the 911. By most objective measures, it's actually a better car. It's simply aimed in a completely different direction.
Mark Scott, who bought this manual-transmission 928GT a year ago, hands me the keys. His ten-year-old daughter, Alexandra, climbs in back. Unlike in a 911, there's plenty of room back there. You can see what Porsche was thinking with this car: it's faster than a 911, more practical, more modern. When the 911 was running an air-cooled six, the 928GT was stuffed with a 32-valve, 326-hp, 5.0-liter V-8. Where the 911 had unassisted steering, the 928 had variable-effort power assist. And so on down the spec sheet.
That variable-assist steering varies from heavy to heavier, as if calibrated to dampen out all twitchiness at 150 mph and beyond. The shifter is fantastic-stubby lever, quick throws -- but I find the dogleg first gear, down and left, a bit strange. Contemporary tests put the 928GT's 0-to-60-mph time in the mid-five-second range, but it probably would've been quicker without that awkward 1-2 shift. It feels quicker than that.
The big V-8 has so much torque that you'd never need to rev it too hard around town, but when you open it up, the 928 hurls its pointy prow down the road with an urgency that increases with the revs. It's got big top-end power, this engine -- as well it should have, for a car that cost more than $70,000 twenty years ago.
This car is high-tech luxury, a long-legged continent-crusher. With the 928, Porsche built a lightsaber, only to discover that people still liked their switchblades.