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Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S review (2013 onwards)
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: summary
Faster and more alive than ever, these may be the best all-round 911s on sale. Price apart.
What:Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S
Where:Bilster Berg, Germany
Price:£118,349 (Turbo), £140,852 (Turbo S)
Key rivals:Aston Martin Vanquish, BMW M6, McLaren 12C, Ferrari 458 Italia, Audi R8 V10 Plus
We like: performance, newfound involvement, comfort, luxury, duality
We don’t like: very expensive, some may wrongly consider it a blunt weapon next to the GT3
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: first impressions
When we drove the new Porsche 911 991 GT3 recently, we deemed it potentially the best car we’ve driven this year. There is "absolutely nothing" we don’t like, we said. Where does that leave the Porsche 911 991 Turbo, then? Has Porsche itself stolen the thunder from its range-topper?
Visually, there’s no doubt the 911 Turbo has the muscle to snatch it back. Before, we’ve had regular and wide-body 911s: with the Turbo, we’ve now an extra-wide body option. It is 72mm meatier than the standard car, with rear haunches so wide, they’re both near-level and fingerspan broad. With massive 911 Turbo-specific intercooler intakes cut deeply in, they’re literally the biggest differentiator: you’ll spot the difference from miles away.
The Turbo S does 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds. McLaren 12C speed for £50k less
But where are the wings? Where’s the 2013 equivalent of the whale tail? Tucked neatly away, as is the front spoiler (greatly improving ground clearance as a happy consequence). This is the first 911 to have Porsche Active Aerodynamics, so the wings are only pushed out when needed. It makes for a much more elegant range-topper, much less brash than older wing-laden cars. And the GT3.
Front and rear spoilers pop out in stages: the first extension, of outer front spoiler elements and 25mm on the rear wing, occurs at 75mph. The second ‘performance’ setup kicks in when you select ‘Sport Plus’: the front middle spoiler extends and the rear wing grows by 75mm AND extends forwards seven degrees. Full attack mode: at 186mph, it adds more than 140kg of downforce and makes the car two seconds faster around the Nurburgring.
The 20-inch wheels will tell you if it’s a Turbo or a Turbo S. Both are forged wheels but the Turbo S has hub wheel locks. It also has full LED headlights, with ‘four point’ daytime running lights: the standard Turbo has LED illumination in the light panel below it. Otherwise, differences are minor: the S justifies a price hike from £118,349 to £140,852 (yes, it really is that expensive) because of the extra technology it has below the surface.
To Germany’s Bilster Berg driving resort, then, and the amazing roads surrounding it, to find out if Porsche’s premium 911 earns its stripes.
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: performance
The 911 Turbo has boasted colossal performance for years. The last Turbo S broke the four-second barrier from rest to 62mph and the 500hp mark was smashed back in 2009. This is thus certain to be staggering, both in 520hp Turbo and 560hp Turbo S guise. The ‘slowest’ reaches 62mph from rest in 3.4 seconds; the ultimate Turbo S does it in 3.1 seconds. McLaren 12C speed for £50,000 less.
With this one, it’s the delivery of the power that’s the significant development. Not only is there more of it but there’s more of it available more of the time. Turbo lag is not an issue: driving torque is available the instant you go on the throttle, linearly swelling from impressive to epic within a second. Most of the time you don’t need all it has to offer – but you do need that initial flash and the ability to dish this out so quickly gives the Turbo such un-turbo characteristics.
By the time you’ve thought about going fast in the Turbo, you’re going fast. Very fast
Direct fuel injection, VarioCam Plus and the still-Porsche-unique Variable Turbine Geometry turbo also give it surprising throttle sensitivity. This is no blunt instrument: you can modulate the accelerator just like in a non-turbo car, only with far more effect in this because the throttle itself gives out so much more for any given input.
It means this is the most pure and Porsche-like 911 Turbo ever. Porsche has even engineered the Turbo S, at great expense, just to have a 7,200rpm red line, 200rpm higher than the Turbo. Why? "Fun for the driver." No other reason. That says it all.
The clincher for those looking for a differentiator over the sublime GT3 is torque. The normally aspirated GT3 peaks at 324lb ft of pulling power, at 6,250rpm. The ultimate 911 Turbo S produces 550lb ft, spread from 2,200-4,000rpm. Wow. It is like night and day. GT3 and Turbo are completely different cars because of it: the difference in character is remarkable.
You have to think about going really fast in the GT3, matching gears and engine revs to the potential of the road ahead. By the time you’ve thought about going fast in the Turbo, you’re going fast. Very fast. Its natural speed is three figures. It’s an astounding performance machine – but, thanks to the honing of how it’s delivered, the most engaging Turbo there’s ever been, too.
You’ll notice we haven’t mentioned PDK. No need. It is as faultless here as it is everywhere else (even in the GT3). Fewer question the fact 911 Turbos are now auto-only anyway, because the seamless shift concept works so well with a turbo powerplant. There’s no turbo boost drop-off in between gearchanges meaning acceleration is absolutely linear. Just like, indeed, a rocket.
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: ride and handling
911 Turbo buyers are people who want to go incredibly fast but not trade the luxuries that GT3 buyers are willing to. It’s thus the range-topping 911 in both performance and luxurious comfort. Not particularly complementary ideals – which is why Porsche has thrown so much technology at the latest one in order to achieve a standout balance.
Straight out the box, it feels like a (very) fast Carrera. Reasonably supple ride in town, damping that ‘breathes’ over undulating roads, nicely weighted steering (it doesn’t chatter like old 911s but old 911 Turbos didn’t really, either). This is intentional. It’s all part of the 911 Turbo’s remit as relaxed cruiser.
Despite animalistic power, it won’t bite you.
Deploying all the power is where it starts to feel different. For starters, it can cope. Porsche Traction Management four-wheel drive now has a water-cooled front axle so can handle more power transfer. This allows you to stamp the throttle with almost foolhardy aggression on the apex of a corner and feel the car barely think about it before clamping itself to the ground and firing you into the distance. The aggression of this is unbelievable.
New active rear wheel steering and the downforce-generating active aerodynamics make it come alive at speed too, in a way past Turbos have not. Steering has much more precision and response just off centre, and the fingertip sensitivity of threading it through corners is in contrast to the rather 2D point and squirt approach of heritage Turbos. That the power is also delivered with much more finesse and fine control underlines this newfound delicacy.
And going all-out on track? Best take the Turbo S, which has standard carbon ceramic brakes and more significantly, the package of anti-roll Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and Sport Chrono Package Plus with dynamic engine mounts. The driver’s kit helps make it a manoeuvrable, wieldy, surprisingly loose and lithe thing on track. It steers around you and enhances feel by ensuring the suspension always remains as the designers intended no matter how hard you push.
Good job: it’s so fast, and rolls so little, you can easily end up understeering by going into corners way too quickly. Best get on the power and lean on that rear end to kick it round, then: despite animalistic power, it won’t bite you should you do so. What fearsome 911 Turbo reputation?
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: interior
Just like it always has, the 991 911 Turbo interior represents the most luxurious of the 911 order. All models have full leather seats with electric adjustment (even the seat backs are finished in leather, with double stitching). The Turbo S also has a bespoke black/Carrera red colour combination for its Sports Seats Plus (this is the only differentiator between the two cars). PCM sat-nav, DAB radio, Bose surround sound stereo and Bluetooth telephone are all standard.
The new 911 Turbo is significantly more fuel efficient, too
Either Turbo or Turbo S script adorns the door kickplates (although both, oddly, just have ‘Turbo’ on the gearlever), and another Turbo logo in the instrument pack is illuminated. Some of the menus within the dials also showcase Turbo-specific thinking: the torque output graph is a brilliantly geeky addition, while the turbo boost meter shown on another menu helps you see you’re getting your money’s worth.
The buttons that control the character-altering functions are all located on the gearlever surround. The PDCC button means you can stiffen the suspension without altering other parameters, while Sport allows a half-way-racy setup without going all-out. Sport Plus is the full firepower one: press it and all the other sporty stuff is auto-on too. One click is, literally, the difference between quiet, supple express train and loud, intense rocketship.
Those who only want to show off their wings and spoilers needn’t worry: on the other side, an ‘aero’ button allows them all to be extended without going into sport mode (or going out of the town centre). Those who prefer the more subtle approach will leave it in standard, where it’s significantly quieter inside too – the full sound symposer mechanical onslaught is reserved for Sport Plus (and effective it is too. A 911 Turbo has never sounded this good).
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: economy and safety
All the extra power, all the extra driveability and still Porsche has ensured the new 911 Turbo is significantly more fuel efficient, too. Remarkable. Fuel consumption is down 16%: it now averages 29.1mpg and emits 227g/km CO2.
The 911 Turbo is different to the GT3, but no less impressive
Engine stop-start helps here, which can now kick in as the vehicle rolls to a halt instead of waiting for it to be fully stopped. The PDK transmission has the now-familiar ‘coasting’ mode that declutches when the car is coasting, sending revs to idle; an interesting new addition are ‘intermediate’ gears which allow the car to run at a fuel-saving 950rpm when gently cruising at speeds below 40mph.
"We have sought social acceptance," engine man Thomas Krickelberg told MSN Cars. "Even if you buy a high performance Porsche, you don’t have to have a bad conscience."
Porsche 911 991 Turbo and Turbo S: the MSN Cars verdict
The 911 Turbo is another great car from Porsche. It is different, intentionally, from the GT3, but no less impressive. The emphasis here is not on driver-focused intensity but astounding performance blended with agile handling, newfound driver interaction plus a luxurious interior and ride. In terms of extremes of performance and comfort, there’s perhaps not a car in the world that can beat it.
Expensive, but worth it. We didn’t expect to be as impressed by the 911 Turbo as we were. That it turns performance up a notch and introduces 911-like sensitivity to the previously digital 911 Turbo makes it another great car from Porsche. And another five-star 911.
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