Porsche Battles Ferrari in Top Gear Late Braking Challenge
Can the Ferrari GTC4Lusso get to a higher speed before braking than the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo?
Think of one of your automotive fantasies. Perhaps you have an entire runway to yourself and you get to drive an exotic car, such as a Ferrari or Porsche, down it as fast as you can. Now imagine the worst possible ending to that scenario: flying off of the end of the runway at more than 150 mph and into a body of water, then dying a watery death. That’s basically what Top Gear‘s Late Braking Challenge is. In other words, it’s exciting and terrifying.
Matt LeBlanc explains it to his co-host Chris Harris. “Fast as you can get before you have to hit the brakes. Loser is the one who goes slowest or ends up in the sea and drowns.” From the looks of things, speed shouldn’t be a problem. LeBlanc has a Ferrari GTC4Lusso and Harris gets to use a Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. The biggest variables should be braking power and the amount of nerve each driver has.
LeBlanc sets off first in the Ferrari four-seater. It may look unusual, but its acceleration is typical Ferrari – as in rapid. LeBlanc keeps his right foot down to let the 6.3-liter V12‘s 680 horsepower and all-wheel drive pull him farther and farther down the runway. The speedometer soon reads 100. Then 130.
Nearly 50 mph later, LeBlanc calls it. “One seventy-seven, I’m braking.” With the liquid horizon looming large ahead, he stays on the left pedal. There’s noticeable brake dive as he comes to a stop yards from the end of the concrete, but in this case, that kind of dive certainly beats the alternative.
Without knowing which speed he has to beat, Harris engages the Sport Turismo’s launch control and fires it and himself toward the finish line. The g-force from the 550-horsepower twin-turbo V8 unloading through all four wheels make his eyes go wide and presses him back into his seat. As if the look on his face doesn’t say it all, he exclaims, “Launch control. That’s fierce!”
It’s not enough for Harris, though. He pulls out all the stops. “Little bit of a secret weapon here. I’ve got 20 seconds of overboost here in Sport Response mode.”
Despite Harris’s best efforts, the Sport Turismo is not able to overcome the huge power deficit between it and the Ferrari. It can only get to 165 mph. The other problem is that Harris starts to brake later than LeBlanc. He comes to a stop a few feet ahead of the Ferrari…and a few feet closer to the gap between two poles at the absolute end of the runway surface.
In the end, rules are rules. Harris wasn’t going as fast as LeBlanc when he hit the brakes so he loses the challenge, even though he started braking later than his co-host. But he didn’t die in a fiery crash or at the bottom of the sea, so he can put that in the W column.