The priciest car of its type, but by no means the best
Porsche’s introduction of its second-generation 991-series 911 continues with models based on its four-wheel-drive architecture. The standard cars – 4, 4S and Targa – need not delay us for long here, because they combine the changes already seen in their rear-drive stable-mates (including but not limited to all-new twin-turbo engines) with the wider-track bodywork of their immediate predecessors.
Unless you live in a US snow state or similar, I just don’t understand why you’d choose all-wheel drive for a 911. The cars are not traction-limited even in the wet, while those fearing the 911’s on-limit behaviour would discover their all-wheel-drive systems did little or nothing to ameliorate any twitchiness. For the record, the last standard 911 road car that needed more than the usual amount of care on the limit was the 964 series, which went out of production 22 years ago.
All four-wheel drive appears to do is add weight and understeer.
The turbos are a different matter. Or, I should say, Turbos, because now all 911s save the GT3s are turbocharged, but only the mighty Turbo and its even more muscled sister the Turbo S are allowed to say so. With 553lb ft of torque at just 2200rpm, the Turbo S can tax the longitudinal limits of adhesion of all four tyres, even in the dry.
Confusingly, however, the ‘gen 2’ (in Porsche argot) Turbos don’t have the all-new turbo engine used in lesser 911s. Instead, money matters meant the engineers were forced to use the old engine and give it a bit of a tickle. And as that now means a 20bhp jump to 532bhp and 572bhp for the Turbo and Turbo S respectively, we can confidently expect the first of the next-generation 911 Turbos to breach the 600bhp barrier.
Even as it is the Turbo S is claimed to hit 62mph in 2.9sec, nutty enough until you’re told discreetly that in decent conditions 2.6sec has been achieved time and again. Off the line it feels hypercar-quick. At the other end this 911 will now do 205mph.
More interesting is the fact that Porsche has played with the car’s active damping programme. It claims to have broadened its operating range, resulting in a better ride on the road and better handling on the track. I punted a Turbo S around Kyalami (as you do) where it was as capable as any 1600kg 2+2 coupé with a remit to carry business types across continents is ever likely to be. But it was not the car’s natural environment.
Out on the road, it was considerably better. This is not a 911 to appeal to those who want to feel every imperfection in the surface replicated through the steering wheel rim, it’s a car for maintaining a higher speed from point to point than anything else you’re likely to meet, because its ability to grip, brake and overtake is frankly other-worldly.
This may be the most expensive and fastest 911 on sale, but it is only best if you want a blunt instrument to carve your way through traffic. If you appreciate the finer aspects of driving, a Carrera S is not just £60,000 cheaper but better, too, even with its newly turbocharged engine. And rear-wheel drive, of course.
Engine 3.8 litres, 6 cylinders, twin turbo petrol
Power [email protected] rpm
Torque 553lba [email protected] rpm
Transmission seven-speed double clutch, four-wheel drive
Power to Weight 358bhp per tonne
Top speed 205mph