Porsche 911 Turbo S

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Stupendously fast – but is it the 911 you want?

I have driven at least one example of every Porsche 911 Turbo to go on sale since the car was first shown 40 years this month. This might sound like a proud boast, but I mention it now only to make a point: in all those years I never drove one I preferred to the slower, normally aspirated car upon which it was based.

This should be no surprise. Advantages held by normal 911s over their turbocharged brethren include a much better noise, a far greater inclination to rev and instantaneous throttle response. They are of course far cheaper both to buy and run as well.

And yet I felt this new 911 Turbo might just be the exception to this hitherto unbreakable rule. I felt the longer wheelbase and electric steering of the 991 platform would play better to the Turbo’s role as the warp factor businessman’s bullet than any of its stablemates. I felt it might be the first Turbo to feel designed that way, rather than adapted from another format.

It certainly looks the part. While Turbos have always used the wider of the two bodies Porsche has for years produced for the 911, for this model it’s made a third just for the Turbo.

It’s so wide at the back its arches are reminiscent of the Martini Turbo RSRs of the mid 1970s. There are two power outputs: 520bhp for the standard Turbo and 560bhp for the Turbo S, the extra coming merely from software telling the turbos to boost at 1.2bar rather than just 1.0 bar. And now the Turbo S, once the niche model of the range, will account for the vast majority of turbo sales.

To cope with this power it has four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, torque vectoring, ceramic brakes, active roll control, active engine mounts and, yes, even a water cooled front axle.

I have no doubt at all the result is the fastest road car that any sane person would consider using every day. Regardless of Porsche’s alwaysconservative claims, the Turbo S will hit 60mph in substantially less than 3sec – indeed with the optional sticky tyres I’d not be surprised to see nearer 2.5sec. Yet that’s only the half of it. These numbers say nothing of how accessible this performance is, how effortlessly it’s placed on the road and how entirely unfrightening this experience is once you’ve got used to its shattering punch.

So I’m sad to say I still don’t want one, at least not like I want a standard Carrera, available for half the money. I want a 911 to be simple and I want it to be narrow. I want its engine to sing to me and I want the driving experience to challenge me. This car does none of these things. It’s the first 911 coupé ever to broach 1600kg and for all its speed it feels heavy, bloated and uninvolving to drive. I’d also point out that its interior has no place in a car costing this much.

But I don’t think this car is bought by people like me, even those who have the money. I think it’s a car for those who need not a 911 but a weapon, a car with near Bugatti Veyron levels of punch off the line, that’ll cruise comfortably at light aircraft speed yet which you can leave in the street with reasonable confidence it’ll still be there tomorrow. And for them, even I must admit there is nothing else to touch it in the world.

Factfile
£140,853
Engine 3.8 litres, six cylinders
Power 560bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 516lb ft @ 2100rpm
Transmission seven-speed double clutch, four-wheel drive 0-62mph 3.1sec
Top speed 197mph
Economy 29.1mpg CO2 227g/km

Andrew Frankel

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