The Porsche 928S
PORSCHE has never been a company for resting on its laurels. Development is an ongoing thing and while face to face Porsche personnel are loath to accept criticism, in practice they respond by eradicating the cause of product criticism more readily than utmost any other manufacturer. The 928 is a case in point. Fast though it might be, the chassis is almost too good for the power so that the overall performance lacks an edge of excitement. For those customers who find the standard 928a trifle “soft”, Porsche have introduced the 9285; with 300 b.h.p. on tap, 60 b.h.p. more than the 928, this 155 m.p.h. supercar has enough
performance to enervate the most lethargic adrenalin.
A more powerful option is one thing. The removal of specific design problems is another. Practically every grouse I made against the standard 928 in the road test in MOTOR SPORT, January, 1979, has been subtly engineered out by that continuous development process. The result is close to perfection and while I felt at the cnd of my 928 tenure that I could happily have lived with one, when the road test 928S went back I figuratively wiped a tear from my eye and declared “I want one!” The distinction is important. The basic design specification of the front-engined, rear-wheel drive via a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transaxle, two plus two sports coupe is identical in the 9285 to that described in the 928 mad test. Some of the detail changes are shared by the latest standard 928. The big difference lies in the all-alluminum,
water-cooled, s.o.h.c. V8 engine, which is stretched from 4,474 0.0. to 4,664 c.c. by increasing the bore from 95 mm. to 97 mm., the stroke remaining at 78.9 mm. The Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection is unchanged except fee minor settings, but new camshafts are fitted and the compression ratio raised to 10:1. The result is a 25% increase in power, to 300 b.h.p. DIN at 5,900 r.p.m., and an increase in maximum torque from 257 lb ft. at 3,600 r.p.m. to 283.4 lb. ft. at 4,500 r.p.m. Current standard 928s also have the higher compression ratio. The addition of a front Mr dam. incorporating Mr scoops for the front brakes, and a neat rubber spoiler around the rear window base lowers the drag coefficient to 0.38. The 11″ ventilated brake discs are of thicker section and redesigned calipers use larger pads. There are no suspension alterations, but while the current 928 uses 215./60 VR 15 Pirelli P6 tyres, the S retains the original 225/50 VR 16 Pirelli P7 tyres, albeit on a new
design of forged alloy wheel.
The effect on performance of the extra power is pretty shattering. The five-speed manual version, as tested, will hurtle frets 0-100 m.p.h. in 14.6 see. (18.9 for the standard 9281 and from 0-60 in 6.4 sec. (7.0). Extra top end power and improved aerodynamics — the gearing is unchanged — contribute to a crisp 155 m.p.h. maximum speed against a breathless 143. There’s much more to it than paper figures, though. Improved response throughout the range gives a new vitality, the engine revs so much more freely and more smoothly, especially noticeable in the 4,000 to 6,000 r.p.m. limit bracket, where the 928 loses interest. But the S is lumpier at low speeds. While five, close ratios seem unnecessary with the lazier 928 engine and the optional automatic seems morc appropriate, the S engine is able to make full use of the full manual set to keep the eight cylinders singing a fine-tuned howl. The gearchange is now a far pleasanter, less notchy and more Nsitive system than that on the road test manual 928, though still with first down on a limb to the left. Porsche may claim that the suspension is unchanged, but anybody with experience of the earlier 928s will sense immediately on driving the 928S that some very effective re-adjustments have been made. It seems a changed character, asking to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and thrown around, happier the harder it is driven and delighting in generous applications of power tbrough corners. The power-assisted, rack and pinion steering, alcove good, feels even morc positive and responsive and has lost that slight feeling of lack of sensitivity its the straight ahead position. It is a more forgiving car, more responsive to sudden directional changes. Over sensitivity to camber changes, white lines, breaks m the tarmac. and the tiring trait of pulling itself down the camber into the gutter have disappeared and potholes and drains no longer deflect it. High speed running is now arrow straight, withoug the need for constant correction. As ever, roadholding in the dry is phenomenal, though now there’s power enough to kick the tail out round tighter corners and sticking in the foot to heavily will leave an expensive, black trail of P7. I suspect that the hammering the brakes had received during fade testing in the hands of other journalists was responsible fora lack of firmness and feel in the brake pedal. But braking performance remained superb. Whatever has resulted in improved handling seems to have removed the front-end twitchiness the 928 showed under heavy braking on uneven surfaces. One drawback of the leech-like P7s remains the road roar and bump thump, more noticeable because of the very low levels of engine and wind noise. This is the main reason why the 928 has moved to P6s, but Porsche feel that the man who will appreciate the muscular 928S will fccl that this is a small price to pay for incredible grip. They also harshen the ride, but the seats are so comfortable and supportive that this hardly
Comfort is enhanced by the standard fitment of electrical adjustment — including height control — to the front scats. The small, leather-covered wheel is of a new and preferable four-spoke design. The S benefits too from a new air conditioning system with automatic temperature control. This is very efficient and quiet in operation, but it is still impossible to have cold air on the face and warm on the feet.
The cheap, clip-on luggage cover of the early 928 has given way to a neat, removable cover which lifts automatically with the boot lid. A net is attached to the boot Boor under which small pieces of luggage, like briefcases, can be stowed. The 928S is incredibly comprehensively equipped and beautifully finished inside and out. This fascinating car averages 1610 17 m.p.g. and costs £25,251. That is a hefty £3,423 morc than the standard 928, but includes more equipment as well as well as vastly improved performance. But best of all it includes a lot more character.— C.R.