Porsche 911 Turbo

There are 911s with turbos; then there’s the real-deal Turbo

STEPHEN CORBY

IN A world where the 911 Carrera is turbocharged, does a 911 Turbo have a reason to exist? If so, what do we call it? Mr T?

A turbo Turbo? Big Daddy?

August Achleitner, the man in charge of all things 911, has the answers, of course. “Why do we have a separate Turbo model, and can it still stand out? To answer that, let me give you two numbers,” he says, with a selfsatisfied smile. “Max torque for the Carrera S is 500Nm, whereas for the Turbo S it’s 750Nm. That’s 50 percent more, and that’s a difference that’s worth it. The Turbo is in a league of its own.”

As for the nomenclature issue, no one who drives a 911 Turbo will ever get out worrying about whether that T on the tail is a capital or not. And what a rear end it is, a whopping 1990mm of wide-hipped intent, compared with a base Carrera at 1808mm.

Those who know 911s will FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE always appreciate that this car stands at the top of a particularly powerful tree, a superb car turned into a supercar, with the kind of performance (and price) that only the demented Italians can match.

The new 911 Turbo – or at least the updated Series II 991 version – gets an extra 15kW wrung from its 3.8-litre engine. That adds up to an intimidating 397kW in the ‘base’ model or a slightly frightening 427kW in the Turbo S.

But those extra kilowatts don’t come cheap; you’ll pay $456,500 for the S, compared with just $384,900 for the regular Turbo.

You also get an extra 50Nm of torque in the Turbo, up to 710Nm, but not a single extra Newton metre with the S, which stays at 750Nm. Yes, even Porsche seems to think that’s quite enough.

Both engines do get a new Dynamic Boost system, however, which minimises the response time of the turbos after changes of load. Lift your foot briefly on the way into a corner then plant it again and the throttle valve stays open, giving you maximum thrust again immediately.

It’s hard to tell if this works – just as it’s hard to use the new Sport Response Button, which provides max attack for 20 seconds – because most of your focus when attempting to drive this monstrously quick car is on remembering to breathe.

We warmed up on the wet and wild Kyalami circuit in South Africa (which Porsche recently bought) with some laps in the new, also turbocharged Carrera 4, which was pretty impressive (see page 44). But climbing into the Turbo S made the track feel 50 percent shorter, or at least the distance between the corners, because this 911 really is twice the car.

Porsche’s official 0-100km/h claim for the S is 2.9sec, but they chuckle about this being deeply conservative and admit they’ve seen it pull 2.6. The way it puts all that torque to the ground from launch, or low revs or even its mid-gear acceleration, is absolutely ferocious.

If the lesser 911s have lost something in the noise department with turbocharging, they should just make them all sound like the Turbo, because it’s a jet-engine whine of rocket-like intensity.

On the track, it’s damn near too much car to handle – or at least one you’d like to sneak up on with a few more practice laps – yet on the road it’s surprisingly calm and easy to drive, only making the middle distance go wobbly when you demand it.

Truly, in the new huffing Porsche world, the 911 Turbo still stands out. Other Porsches might now be turbocharged, but there’s only one Turbo worthy of the badge.

Lurid tails

It’s hard to imagine how good a driver you’d have to be to appreciate it, but the new 911 Turbo now gets a Sport Mode as part of its Porsche Stability Management software.

In this scary, lairy setting, the level of intervention is reduced so that you can wave that big behind around a bit, although if things get “too spectacular”, as August Achleitner puts it, the PSM will kick back in. “It’s not the fastest mode on the track, but it’s certainly the most spectacular one,” Mr 911 adds.

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It’s theoretically four-tenths of a second slower to 100km/h, but on the plus side, you’ll hit 200km/h in 8.3sec, while the Porsche disappears behind you, taking 9.9sec. You’ll also look a lot sexier.

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Not as fast, but it delivers its power from a naturally aspirated V10, which is more engaging and sounds epic. And it’s almost a bargain compared to the Turbo S. The last gasp of non-turbo supercars.