Antibes, Monaco… we felt like James Bond

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The sun beat down on the yachts on the Côte d’Azur while three Coventry University students sped by with the roof down. If you’re studying for an MA in Automotive Journalism, you might as well do it in a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet in one of the playgrounds of the super-rich. JAN CONESA, ERIC BECKER and PANOS MITILINIAOS scrounged a free test drive from a dealer friend in the South of France and got a great spread for their magazine. And after that, it was off to Monaco in, erm… a Renault Clio. It wasn’t quite the same. 
Here, Jan tells how they bolted the Porsche test on to the back of a group trip to the Geneva motor show. 
porsche and boats 1160x350 by panos mitiliniaos
When we were brainstorming for the magazine, we were all trying to share our best ideas. I knew one of my friends worked in a Porsche dealership in France. I said, “Why don’t we try to see if we can test a Porsche?” Then, came the idea to go to Geneva and cover the motor show.
“Why don’t we fly from Geneva to France? It’s cheaper, and we can do the whole thing in one week.”
When I contacted my friend it took a while for him to say everything was all right. That was stressing.  We had to do all the organising in a short space of time.
Then he said, “Yes – come to France and you will, for sure, drive a Porsche.”

We felt very very excited, especially Panos and Eric. They joined me because they are Porsche specialists and fans. But we had to think about the approach: okay we’ve got a Porsche, what are we going to do? It’s not a new car – how were we going to make it newsworthy?
It’s a Cabrio, you are in one of the most beautiful places in France… we wanted to do it on a very nice road with very nice views in order to show the reader the great feeling of driving a Porsche on the Côte d’Azur.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we were in Geneva, which is very glamorous, then we took a plane to the South of France. We felt like James Bond.
The Porsche dealer was in Antibes. Rich people leave their yachts there. We rented an apartment. Then we stayed there a few days to let my friend choose the perfect day to do the test. We landed on a Wednesday and we did the test on a Saturday.
porsche riviera 1160x640 by panos mitiliniaos
We began in Antibes and did one of the nicest roads there, the Corniche d’Or, a 30-mile road next to the coast in the Riviera. Then we drove into the interior, the Rue du Tanneron. I drove first, then Panos took the control, then Eric drove the car to come back. During all the route we stopped to make picture shoots, first of all in a small port, then some action shots.
We drove for 40 minutes each. The sound was amazing. The feeling of driving it in such a nice environment was spectacular. But we couldn’t push the car that much.
Then to conclude the weekend we took the car we rented and spent an evening in Monaco – which, for the petrol heads, is one of the places you have to do.
Ah yes, the hire car. A second vehicle was needed during the test, so that Eric could get the best shots of the car being driven. Let’s say it was a learning experience:
Something we learned is that before you test a car you really need to be sure of the approach of your article. Then you are able to plan the pictures, the locations and everything.
We had many problems to hire the car because we didn’t think about it at the beginning. It was very hard to find a rental car, but eventually we booked one online. When we went to pick it up, there was a mistake – no car. The owner lent us his company car, a Renault Clio.
I mean, jumping from the Porsche to the Renault Clio… you try to follow the Porsche and all the time you are killing the car. But we got what we needed.
It was a great feature to have in the magazine. We are very proud of it. Panos and I are not native speakers of English and we think we did a good job.

And we got to drive a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet around the Côte d’Azur. There aren’t many masters degrees that let you do that.

Click the pic to see the 2015 edition of Automotive magazine:

car mag porsche full page

Simon Pipe is a former print and BBC journalist, now a member of the Journalism teaching team at Coventry University. He also runs an experimental website, St Helena Online, about one of the world's most remote inhabited islands, at www.sthelenaonline.org On Twitter, when he has something to say, he is @simonpipe

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