Porsche 911 Turbo. A name synonymous with ballistic pace, mega AWD traction and everyday usability. A stupendously fast supercar you can use to cross borders in record time, and then drive to the office in. A RM1,750,000 dream machine.
Yes, yes, yes and yes. But transcribing my experience with the Porsche 911 Turbo S into a written article has been a challenge. Here’s a machine that sits on top of the 991 food chain, has a name that demands respect and looks the business, yet deliver so little drama on the supercar scale.
Add in the fact that yours truly was behind the wheel for just a short spin, on track, and it becomes one head scratcher of a story. Here’s my attempt.
The latest Porsche 911 Turbo S was first shown to the world in May last year, together with the ‘standard’ 911 Turbo. The latter is powered by a 3.8 litre flat-six fortified with two variable turbine geometry turbochargers. Paired to Porsche’s seven-speed twin-clutch Doppelkupplung, its 520 hp and 660 Nm propels the Turbo from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds.
Slow coach? The 911 Turbo S bumps things up a (big) notch – with an extra 40 hp (560 hp) and 50 Nm (710 Nm), the most powerful series production 911 ever does the century sprint in just 3.1 seconds. Top speed is 318 km/h. The Turbo S’ extra performance comes from higher boost pressure (1.2 bar) and a 200 rpm increase in max engine speed to 7,200 rpm.
The Sport Chrono package, optional in the Turbo, is standard on the Turbo S. Included is an “overboost” function that increases maximum charge pressure by around 0.15 bar for up to 20 seconds in the middle speed range. This increases maximum torque to 750 Nm. In a car as rapid as this, you won’t be having a full boot on the accelerator for more than 20 seconds, so the 750 Nm is as good as permanent.
Power is nothing without control, a tyre maker once preached. Here, power is matched by Porsche’s all-wheel drive system (PTM) with electro-hydraulic control of its multi-plate coupling. It is assisted by the new active rear axle steering, active aerodynamics and Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) Plus. Also in are PDCC roll stabilisation system, PCCB ceramic brakes and dynamic engine mounts as part of Sport Chrono.
The Army of Zuffenhausen watched over proceedings, ensuring yours truly didn’t end up beached in the Sepang gravel. There’s gobs of traction out of corners, but untidy driving can cause the electronics to work overtime to keep you on course. We weren’t allowed to deactivate PSM (ESP), but I wouldn’t have done so in any case. RM1,750,000, remember?
Speaking of untidy, the 911 Turbo S’ sheer speed meant that we occasionally approched corners at too high a speed, or powered out too early. The latter tends to happen with grippy fast cars as one pushes the envelope, just to see what it’s ultimately capable of. There is such a thing as too fast, for my skill level at least. The left-hand drive tester also made apex clipping slightly trickier than usual.
The unadorned three-spoke steering is connected to a very quick and direct rack (rear-axle steering points the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts by 2.8 degrees above 80 km/h, opposite direction below 50 km/h for a tighter turning circle), and the Turbo S changes direction with alacrity not usually associated with fat bodies. But that’s not what jumps at you upon acquaintance.
It’s the ferocious way the Turbo S picks up speed that’s more memorable; full-bore acceleration is accompanied by a growly soundtrack with some pop and crackle on the sides. The initial surge is such that the natural tendecy is to short shift and ride the big wave of torque all over again.
No stray Kancils and kapcais at Sepang, so I managed to breach 240 km/h on the pit straight before the Turbo threw out its other trump card. I’d argue that the PCCB ceramic brakes are even more impressive than the explosive acceleration, hauling the 1.6-tonne missile from autobahn speed to pedestrian speed for turns one and two with real authority, straight as an arrow. The stopping power on offer here needs to be experienced to be believed.
By now, you would have gathered that the Porsche 911 Turbo S is an amazingly fast car (I hope!), with anchors to match. It does its thing while providing a sense of safety and stability to the driver that, I imagine, will be even more valuable when blasting down an unfamiliar road, in less than ideal conditions.
The Turbo S will easily cope with what most driver skill sets and roads can throw at it, such is its capability, but is the ultimate 911 the 991 you really want? We say want, because no one needs a Porsche 911 Turbo S.
We didn’t hop straight into the Turbo S at Sepang, but were served a “starter” in form of the 911 Carrera 4S. Think of the white car you see below as a senior manager in 911 Corp – with ‘4’ and ‘S’ badges under its belt, the C4S can order the exec Carrera around, but has to kowtow to the Turbo S, also known as The Boss.
Hanging out with the 4S proved to be a more fun and less intimidating experience. Its 3.8 litre flat-six may be two turbos and 160 horses down on The Boss, but the RM990k C4S is no slouch. 400 hp and 440 Nm delivers a 0-100 km/h time of 4.1 seconds, and top speed is three km/h short of 300.
The C4S lacks the Turbo S’ brutal pace of the blocks, and momentum is delivered in a more linear fashion. The naturally-aspirated flat-six sings a sweeter tune, and is deliciously zingy up until 7,800 rpm. In contrast to the Turbo S experience, the NA six-pot encourages you to use up every inch of rev before pulling the next gear. Less efficient maybe, more emotion for sure.
Not as fast, but certainly more satisfying for this writer. The C4S felt more natural and organic – like a dance partner that I was more in sync with – while still benefiting from the amazing ceramic brakes and AWD security from the Turbo S. I even prefer the looks of the lesser model – more classic, less aggressive – over the wings and scoops of the range topper.
I didn’t expect to prefer the hors d’oeuvre over the main course, but it happened. Maybe because I’m not a boss. The successful, uncompromising types with the priority bank account to buy a 911 would probably want the best or nothing, and the Turbo S – with its amazing performance and cachet – is the 911 that will match their status perfectly. Like that trophy wife.