See, Porsche’s engineers dropped enough hints to us on the new car’s launch to suggest it’s very much on the
‘conservative’ side of cautious. Meaning, to all intents, Porsche has given us the quickest thing on the road today.
Bold claim, when cars such as the Lamborghini Murcielago, Caterham R500 and Bugatti Veyron exist? Maybe. But we say it with reasonable confidence, for one reason. The new 911 Turbo is so stunning in every other way, to lead here too would be no surprise…
Porsche hasn’t messed about. With all the fuss given to the bonkers new 911 GT3, and all the plaudits lauded on the incredibly capable standard 911s – never mind the brilliance of that cut-price Cayman S – you could be forgiven for thinking the Turbo’s day is gone. It’s been around since 1974, after all. Remarkably, in all that time, it never once got a ground-up all-new engine, but continued developments of the original 3.0-litre.
Is it done for, then? Not a bit of it. In Porsche’s world, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing in a manner good enough to have your rivals weeping. So, for the latest 911 Turbo, in comes a new 3.8-litre engine, direct fuel injection, the option of the amazing PDK dual-clutch gearbox, wrapped in a bodyshell that’s subtly facelifted over the existing 997 series in a refined way.
Punching out 500bhp, this engine is simply incredible. Apparently, it’s even more fuel-efficient than the old one, and is capable of 25mpg. Not in our hands, it wasn’t. Not when it’s this bleedin’ fast, refined, smooth, revvy, creamy, cultured and harmonious. Brand new it may be, but it’s already a classic.
Remember how people used to tell scary tales of the 911 Turbo’s sudden boost-rush, and the effects it had on the waggy tail? That’s but a distant myth. If it wasn’t for the turbo boost gauge, and the phenomenal pulling power this missile possesses, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s normally-aspirated, so fine is its power delivery.
If you do the sensible thing and opt for that PDK gearbox, you get yet another trick, too: Launch Control. This means F1-like perfect starts, that will absolutely nail every last bit of acceleration from the mega motor. It’s jaw-droppingly good, particularly as four-wheel-drive means traction is simply never an issue. This thing doesn’t just explode, it decimates.
Yes, then, it’s fast. That’s in 911 Turbo tradition. Where Porsche really has gone to town is with the handling. To that four-wheel-drive, corner-sticking system, Porsche has added a rear torque vectoring system option.
It’s bafflingly clever, but basically means individual rear wheels can be ‘braked’ as you turn into corners, hastening the response of the rear end. See it as a sort of mechanical four-wheel-steer system.
It’s truly incredible. From the very first turn, we were blown away at how agile, lithe and responsive the 911 Turbo now is through the bends. Despite its colossal power, it’s as adept and precise as a standard version.
As if driving it wasn’t enough, Porsche let us out on to Portugal’s Estoril race circuit for some hot laps. Whatever we did to it, the 911 Turbo took it in its stride: grip was abundant, power always there, and the staggering carbon-composite brake option got us out of many a sticky situation.
Yet, afterwards, we simply drove back out on to the highway and loped up the motorway in comfortably-riding, practicality-focussed luxury.
The famed 911 Turbo has never cost a six-figure sum even in basic guise. But, given the standards of its performance, and the type of company this means it’s able to mix with, it has to be considered a bit of a steal. We’d have one, no doubt about it. That’s a decision it took us about 3.4 seconds to reach. And even that may have been conservative.
by Richard Aucock
Porsche 911 Turbo
Engine: 3.8-litre straight-six twin-turbo
Top speed: 193mph