Porsche picks out its favourite European roads to mark the launch of the Boxster and Cayman GTS.
From its base in Stuttgart, south west Germany, Porsche has direct access to – many of – Europe’s finest roads. However, for the new GTS Route app which accompanies the launch of the Boxster and Cayman GTS models, the company has taken a much wider view.
The set routes shown here – there is also a feature to record and share your own great drives – contain some intriguing, and surprising, choices.
The Swiss Loop. As regular readers will know, Andermatt – just off the A2 motorway, just north of the Gotthard Tunnel in south central Switzerland – is the epicentre of some of Europe’s best known switchback mountain roads. Gotthard, Susten, Grimsel, Nufen and Furka are all with a few miles and can be connected together in a variety of ways.
Porsche’s version is a mix of the fast and twisty, heading north from Andermatt on the A2 to skirt the southern shore of Lake Lucerne. Switching to the A8 at Stans, the route turns south again as far as Lungernersee and the H8. This is where the corners start, past Sherlock Holmes’ Reichenbach Falls, before taking Sustenpass back to Andermatt.
The grand finale is an absolutely mad string of Gotthard, Nufen, Furka and Grimsel passes to finish beside Grimselsee. You might need the day off afterwards.
Best of Iceland. Interesting. Iceland’s most famous road is the 800 mile R1 which circumnavigates the entire island. Presumably in the name of brevity, Porsche has opted for the road between Keflavik Airport and capital Reykjavik. Direct it’s less than 30 miles – via the new troll road which had the locals out in force last year – but Porsche’s route is a circuitous 223 miles, an ‘Iceland’s Greatest Hits’ taking in lakes, forests and coastline with apparently no need of mountain passes and hairpin bends. We’re prepared to take their word for it (get your car to Iceland via the Smyril Line ferry from Denmark).
Grossglockner Pass. It’s surely no coincidence that one of Porsche’s favourite roads is the one between Zell-am-See (where the Porsche family come from) and Gmund (where the first factory was established). On the way is Grossglockner, Austria’s flagship alpine road.
From afar, G’glock might come off something like an asphalt theme park. It has its own website, t-shirts, opening times and admission price. Don’t be fooled. There’s something about the way the often cobbled corners rumble under tyres which makes the heart beat faster as the road snakes its way to a – literally – breath taking 8,215 feet.
Transfagarasan. ‘The world’s best road’, ‘Road in the Clouds’, ‘Ceausescu’s Folly’. There are many ways to describe Romania’s 60 mile, A-grade, world class mountain road. Yes we’ve been, it was closed, in mid-May. Most people’s problem is getting there, it sounds so far away. Porsche made it a star feature of its 2012 Istanbul-Budapest Performance Drive. If that’s too much, bear in mind you can get there in a day from Vienna (start early mind) and camp at the top too. Far be it from us, but the Porsche route heads south to north, from Bucharest, while it’s generally said to be at its best the other way, from Sibiu. While you’re in the area check out Transalpina, and the brand-new Transbucegi.
Scottish Highlands. What the Scotland lacks for height it more than makes up for in sheer gradient. Cattle Pass winds up and around the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross and hits 20% in places, the steepest road in the United Kingdom. That’s just part of a 223 mile route Porsche has selected, a loop around the opposite coast to Aberdeen, exploring the raw, exposed beauty of the least populated part of the British Isles.
Am personally in no hurry to revisit Wester Ross. The overwhelming memory of a childhood holiday is the smell of clutch and brakes as the family Ford Anglia lunged around on roads you would think twice about walking on. Perhaps a set of decent Porsche stoppers would give it a fresh perspective.
German Alpine Road. Again, you might have expected Porsche to plump for the racetrack roads of the Black Forest where Andreas Preuninger put the finishing touches to the latest 911 GT3. Instead they’ve opted for a road that isn’t really a road, as such.
Back in the day the German Alpine Road was planned as a scenic autobahn, stretching 200 miles across the northern Alp foothills through southern Germany, from Lake Constance in the west to Lake Konigsee (and Berchtesgarden) in the east. It was never built but it’s possible these days to string the route together via the back roads, meandering occasionally up to and across the Austrian border.
The route takes in some fabulous scenery, the fairy tale Neuschwanstein Castle and Oberammergau. The biggest challenge however will be navigating.
Mont-Dore. Every Porsche fan’s favourite French road is the N85 Route Napoleon, 200 miles between Grenoble, Gap and Cannes. Intriguingly though Porsche has opted for a little known loop from Clermont Ferrand, in and out of the Auvergne and Massif Central.
Apart from the lakes, hills, mountains and stunning 360 degree high plateaus that make up the landscape in this part of south central France – a gentler, quieter (cheaper) version of the nearby Alps – the focus of this relatively short route, 60 miles, is the road used – still – for the classic Mont-Dore hill climb.
The original GTS – a racing version of the 904 coupe – competed here. Just don’t go in early August.
For more information – more maps and photos, detailed routes, and the best/only times to go – see the GTS Routes app in the Apple iStore. It’s free. You don’t have to be GTS – or Porsche – owner to use it. It automatically saves your best routes with a one touch button, allows you highlight the best bits, vote for your favourites and gain access to other users’ favourite routes too.