Even faster facelifted Porsche 911 Turbo continues the trend of being a sensational everyday supercar
The Porsche 911 Turbo, traditionally the ultimate indomitable everyday supercar, might seem at risk from the latest crop of increasingly rounded rivals and new turbocharged entry level 911’s, but the Turbo’s appeal is much like that of a black Armani suit; expensive, sophisticated and timeless.
The 911 Turbo was first released in the 1970’s, but has evolved from the edgy, intimidating sports car it was into the polished and sophisticated everyday supercar of today. Now in its 991.2 guise, the 911 Turbo is as capable and organ-pummellingly fast as ever.
Launched in 2016, the new Turbo is distinguished from earlier cars via a set of redesigned LED light strips in the bumper, fresh wheel designs, revised tail lights and vertical slats on the engine cover (a nod to past 911 models). Available as before with PDK only, the new Turbo has more substance than ever, but it also has more rivals to compete against, so is it still king of its domain?
Performance and 0-100km/h time
The headline figures are as follows: 0-100km/h is dispatched in 3.0 seconds dead in the Turbo and 2.9 seconds in the Turbo S. Cabriolet models each add 0.1 of a second to each respective time, but the complexity here is that Porsche is famously conservative with its performance figures.
We have seen times as low as 2.6 seconds in the Turbo S if the conditions are right, so the question is how? Porsche’s quoted performance figures from the engine are impressive, but don’t explain why the Turbo consistently out perform rivals against the stopwatch.
Well firstly, the inherent traction afforded by the 911’s rear-engined layout means that the Porsche already has fantastic traction off the line. Next up is the all-wheel drive system, which constantly varies torque between the front and rear axles depending on how much grip each of the tyres has to give, meanwhile the engine’s flat and broad torque curve alleviates turbo lag off the line. The rest is down to the PDK gearbox and launch control function which help make every launch consistently fast by relaxing the traction control system and softening the rear suspension to maximise traction.
But the numbers hardly tell the whole story, as the 911 Turbo’s un-impeachable torque spread and relatively lithe kerb weight make it feel so much faster on the road than its power figures suggest. In-gear acceleration is just as impressive as those 0-100 numbers, with the Turbo S sprinting from 80-120km/h in just 1.8 seconds.
Top speed is identical in coupe and cabriolet versions, with the Turbo reaching 319km/h, while the Turbo S’ extra power right at the top of the rev range helps it hit an impressive 330km/h.
Engine and gearbox
The familiar twin turbocharged 3.8-litre flat six remains from the first generation 991 Turbo, but modified inlet ports, new injection nozzles and higher fuel pressure – up from 140 bar to 200 bar – have helped liberate an extra 14kW. Boost pressure has also risen by 0.15 bar and, for the first time, the S model uses different, bigger turbochargers from the basic Turbo model.
Peak power is up to 427kW at 6750rpm for the Turbo S, meanwhile torque is a substantial 750Nm between 2250 and 4000rpm. The Turbo makes do with ‘just’ 397kW and 710Nm. To improve response, both new Turbos include a dynamic boost function that keeps the throttle valve open for 1.5-2 seconds after the driver has lifted off the throttle so the turbos don’t drop boost between throttle applications.
Both Turbo models are connected exclusively to Porsche’s all-wheel drive system and a 7-speed dual-clutch PDK gearbox. They also now have redesigned clutch plates in the all-wheel drive system ensuring even faster torque distribution between the front and rear axles, meanwhile the rear axle still features Porsche torque vectoring. Rear-wheel steer and Porsche active engine mounts are also correct and present.
Some worried about the relevance of the Turbo once the cooking 911 models were fitted with their all-new 3.0-litre flat-six turbo, but the difference between the models is thankfully more than just differing power figures. The Turbo has been developed to maintain that turbocharged feeling, with both variants having a more pronounced turbo rush in the mid range. Differences can be seen on the spec sheet, with the turbo models both producing maximum power relatively high in the rev range, while the standard 911 Carreras produce their maximum figure lower down.
Ride and handling
The mechanical revisions are all fairly minimal, so the car’s dynamic behaviour is very much as it was before the facelift. While you’re not aware of the dynamic boost function operating on road or track, you do appreciate the near lag-free throttle response, even from low engine speeds.
The rotary dial, meanwhile, is intuitive to use and the Sport Response button really does make passing slower traffic on the road child’s play. You’d need gyroscopic inner ears to identify the extra straight-line performance over the previous model, but as ever, the Turbo S thumps along on an enormous, effortless wave of torque.
The smaller steering wheel is an improvement over the old item, which always felt ever so slightly too big in diameter for such a dynamically capable car. The Turbo S remains the definitive all-weather, point-to-point supercar, but as with the previous version you really do need to push very hard on the road before the chassis begins to come alive. The steering, meanwhile, is still very direct and crisp, without ever dripping in feel.
In the dry there seems like endless reserves of grip for the rear axle, unless you’re really trying to break traction. While, in the wet, a degree of caution needs to be applied. Generous amounts of throttle will make the car rotate with ease. The slightly looser calibration of the traction control in Sport Plus mode allows enough angle for you to trim your line while also keeping a safety net should you be too eager with the throttle.
Even with all-wheel drive, the 397kW and 710Nm figures of the Turbo suggest it’ll be scary and wild whenever the road is anything other than perfectly dry. This couldn’t be much farther from the truth, though. The chassis is transparent enough to make the loss of traction from the rear predictable and controllable. The engine is noticeably turbocharged, but there’s always control
With all the traction aids turned off, there’s still the all-wheel drive system to help you regain grip. The front axle really interjects to straighten the car during a slide. It might not be as fool proof as keeping the traction control on, and it certainly requires you to be alert, but it’s manageable
The increased adjustability of the Turbo in the wet adds a significant amount of fun that’s lacking in the dry. It might not be able to match the blistering, no nonsense pace it has in the dry, that’s not to say it isn’t still incredibly fast when wet, but the payoff is being able to enjoy the cars performance more.
On circuit there is some understeer in the chassis – more so than a Carrera 4, in fact – but it’s easy enough to dial that out by trail braking or using the mass behind the rear axle to get the car rotating on the way into a corner.
All-wheel drive systems usually enable you to reapply power very early in corners, but with the Turbo S that isn’t quite the case. Because of the very light front end and the incredibly grippy rear axle, you actually need to have the car pointed more or less in a straight line before you stand on the accelerator, otherwise the front end will wash out.
With the stability system removed entirely, meanwhile, the Turbo S can be teased into extraordinary angles of oversteer both on the way into a corner and under power on the way out – without any of the snappiness that you might expect of a 330km/h supercar.
Interior and tech
Being a 911, the practical advantages of the Turbo’s rear engine layout come to the fore, yeilding two rear seats and a relatively useful front boot. Visibility is still excellent, although the Turbo’s extra wide body does make it a little less easy to drive on narrow roads than other 911 models.
Along with the rest of the 911 range, the interior has been given a refresh with additions including the new 918 Spyder inspired steering wheel and a touchscreen infotainment system incorporating Apple car play and Android auto. However, the advances Porsche has made in its electronic architecture in the new Panamera have not been brought through onto this new 911, so it is starting to feel its age.
Unlike the clean, minimalist style of the Panamera and its vast touchscreen, the 911 maintains a button-laden centre console and analogue dials. The familiar interior does mean that ergonomically it still works very well, but it lacks the wow factor of rivals like the R8 and 570S.
The Porsche 911 is never a source of experimental design, so the changes Porsche made during the 991.2 update are predictably subtle. The front fascia has received new LED lighting strips in place of the previous models more complex lighting signature. The Turbo’s extra wide body remains, as does the large rear wing, but the taillights now have Porsche’s increasingly common quad-light brake lights and vertical strakes on the engine cover in homage to the original 911.
Overall, the 911 Turbo is still the subtle but smart supercar option, attracting far less attention than the likes of an Audi R8 or McLaren 570S. The car is filled with lovely details though, things like the centre-locking forged wheels on the Turbo S and the extendable front splitter all keep the car feeling its $400K worth.