First Drive: Porsche 911 Turbo S

Porsche 911 Turbo S _1Ask any sports car fan which marque rules the roost, and it won’t be long before the name Porsche crops up in the conversation. Having built nothing but full-on performance cars for almost a century – and its only foray into SUV territory created the world’s fastest 4×4 – its reputation is second to none.

Above the Carrera and Carrera S models lie the track-weapon GT3 models, but sitting alongside them lies the Turbo. With twin turbochargers forcing extra air and fuel into the cylinders it has a spectacular 500bhp, transferred to the road through its four-wheel drive system and high-tech PDK dual-clutch gearbox. Capable of 194mph and despatching the 0-62mph sprint in 3.7 seconds, it is as quick as any sane human being could want or need.

Which begs the question: what is the purpose of the Turbo S? For an extra £15,000 on top of a standard Turbo you can have an even quicker version, which has the overboost function permanently engaged to deliver 530bhp and 516lb.ft of torque. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is: there are perhaps only a dozen more powerful cars available to buy in the UK, and many of those will cost tens if not hundreds of thousands more.

There’s a remarkable discretion with the way the Turbo S goes about demolishing any given section of road. The classic 911 silhouette is present and correct, although like the regular Turbo it has a sizeable rear wing and numerous scoops and air ducts. Unlike some other sporting cars however, all of these are absolutely necessary: that fearsome engine needs large gulps of air to deliver the performance while the huge carbon ceramic brakes require plenty of cooling to halt the rapid acceleration. But the functional approach is what all 911s are about, even at this end of the scale.

Porsche 911 Turbo S _2Climb in to the driver’s seat and you are greeted by the familiar instrument layout and the upright windscreen, all part of the 911s appeal. Unlike many supercars you can see clearly out of it, the wheel sits straight in front of you and getting comfortable is the work of a moment. With the optional bucket sports seats you are clamped in position, and although the fixed backrest seems a little upright at first, a few miles of acclimatisation leads you to believe they are set just right.

Fire it up and there is sharp rasp from the exhaust before it settles down to surprisingly discreet rumble. Slot the gearlever into Drive and rumble away on the generous torque from tickover, and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a regular sports car. The steering is as sharp and responsive as ever, and although firm the ride is still comfortable and composed, bar the occasional sharp bump that would disturb any car.

Get out on to more open roads and even a slight brush of the accelerator produces substantial acceleration, blended smoothly by the automatic transmission. With just a gentle squeeze delivering such prodigious power, it takes some time before the opportunity presents itself to push the accelerator to the floor.

But first you need to punch the Sport button to sharpen the throttle response and push another button to stiffen the suspension. Slot the gearlever across into manual mode and you are ready to experience the Turbo S in full flight. Second gear is best place to start: push your right foot to the floor and from 2,000rpm there is a sudden shock to the small of your back as it starts to punch forward.

Porsche 911 Turbo S _3From there it builds and builds as the revs rise and the turbochargers blow harder. Before you get to the 7,000rpm red line it takes a degree of bravery to keep going, such is the relentless and devastating gathering of pace. Click the right paddle to change up and the gear shift happens in a flash before the mighty surge starts again. Should you happen to be on a sufficient long straight without any speeding laws or other cars, the Turbo S will not let up until an indicated 197mph.

Yet a huge shove on the middle pedal will shed all that speed in an equally stunning manner. Those standard carbon brakes are relentlessly effective, never wilting despite the huge speeds this car is capable of. The result of all this mind-stretching ability is that you find the Turbo S is always capable of doing what you ask of it and never coming up short.

To all this you can add one of the finest road car chassis ever made. The four-wheel drive system means you can use the power all of the time in the dry and way beyond sane limits in the wet, and it will always be on your side. The balance and grip coming from the chassis inspires huge confidence – even the shortest drive becomes a lesson in bending the rules of physics.

At £125,000 you could argue that the 911 Turbo S is a rich person’s plaything, but that misses the point entirely. This is an engineering masterpiece, harnessing devastating acceleration, grip and braking power and making it all manageable, friendly even. Which is exactly why Porsche remains one of the world’s finest sports car makers.

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Porsche 911 Turbo S, £125,864
Engine: 3.8-litre twin turbocharged petrol producing 530bhp and 516lb.ft of torque
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic driving all four wheels
Performance: Top speed 197mph, 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds
Economy: 24.8mpg combined
Emissions: 268g/km of CO2

By Matt Joy

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