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Oct / Nov 2013
asdasd Clinical Competency

WRITER: Nicolas Shammas

Four decades after the first 911 Turbo made its debut, Porsche has introduced its eighth-generation iteration. It may not be a looker but once you get behind the wheel, we doubt you’ll care.


Back in the day, the Porsche Turbo was the world’s only everyday sportscar. But in the four decades since, a number of other manufacturers have moved in. Nowadays, gentlemen racers have AMGs, Aston Martins and Audi R8s vying for their attention. McLaren will soon be launching its P13 and even Ferrari has crafted a daily user, in the California. So, in response and for the first time, Porsche has decided to launch the Turbo and the Turbo S alongside each other, in the hope this will put the kibosh on the competition, once and for all.

So what’s the difference between the two models? Simple. For an added 32,000 USD over the already pricey 150,000 USD the 513bhp Turbo commands, you get all its performance options, which means carbon-ceramic brakes, 40 extra horsepower, centre-lock forged wheels, adaptive sports seats and, of course, that rarefied ‘S’ badge at the rear.

Seeing it in the flesh, you can’t help be both wowed and disappointed. This beast is longer, lower and sleeker than before, which is great. Plus, the back has been given dollops of visual drama with an amped up rear section that’s now wider than any 911, ever. But, to borrow a little football-speak, this is a car of “two halves”. The front is a total fail. For the first time in decades, the front end of the regular 911 is better looking than the Turbo’s and that’s not good if you’re trying to convince customers to cough up an extra 65,000 USD over a base-price Carrera.

Of course, Porsche is hoping customers will be swayed by the engineering rather than styling because that is, after all, what has dictated this rather lacklustre design. For the first time, it’s not just the back spoiler that moves about. Porsche has applied active aerodynamics to the front spoiler, too. It does this in stages. Cruise around town and it’s completely hidden, allowing you to descend steep ramps without fear of any front lip scrapes. Open up on a motorway though and you’ll need some extra stability. This is achieved via the spoiler’s edges, which unfurl at 120 km/h. If you want the full track attack mode you can either press a button to fully extend the entire rubber lip or wait for it to protrude automatically at 300 km/h, whereupon you get a massive 135kg of extra frontal downforce. Impressed? We were.

So what’s the Turbo S like to drive? Porsche obviously knows just how capable this car is because they organised the media launch at one of the most insane tracks on earth, the Bilster Berg near Paderborn. Completed just a few months before we arrived, this private club track in northern Germany careers over a small mountain, once home to a British Army ammo dump. Almost every apex is hidden, there are gradients so steep, a racing car could take off and some of the blind crests lead straight into off-camber death-drops. It’s an intensely rewarding but damned scary place to drive. What it does prove is that this 1,680-kilogramme beast isn’t just a grand tourer, it’s also a master on the track.

I won’t bore you with details of new fuel injectors, stronger pistons, active rear axle steering, optional anti-roll systems or the retention of massively expensive twin Borg Warner Variable Geometry Turbochargers because it should suffice to say that this car is ballistic. Then again, so are many of its competitors. But what makes the 911 Turbo S so unique is that it will flatter and reward even mediocre drivers.

I didn’t actually try the Turbo, only the Turbo S, but on the Bilster Berg track where you’re literally on the edge all the time – taking the car to the very limits of its performance, the tyres screeching in every hard braking zone, wrestling through the apexes, constantly monitoring weight shift and balance – you might be fazed, but the Turbo S never is.

The brakes are super strong and the pedal is easy to modulate but it’s the balance and stability that really give the confidence to extract every bit of juice. We were told by some of the professional Porsche drivers that you can drive at 250 km/h, do a jinking left-right around tightly-spaced cones and the Turbo will just carry on like it’s business as usual. I can believe it too because even when I carried ridiculous amounts of speed into corners, the car would tuck in neutrally. I’d go so far as to say that all you need do with the new Turbo is point it in the right direction and the abundance of electronic nannies will do the rest for you. It really is a bit of a know-it-all. Albeit a rewarding one.

After a full day of pushing it to the limit, I actually had a headache from all the G-force I’d been pulling. Yet somehow my Turbo S was cool as a cucumber. Downsides? Well, if you drive as aggressively as I did, you’ll burn through the tiny 68-litre tank of fuel in about 16 laps. Plus, I must admit to having wanted a little more feedback through the steering but I do realise this is not what the Turbo is about. If you’re looking for a more visceral experience then go for a GT3. This car’s USPs are refinement, luxury, warp speed and virtuoso hidden nannies.

In terms of luxury, the interior is a vast improvement over the old car. Like the Panamera and Cayenne before it, the 911 now boasts a centre console with an array of buttons. It’s a little confusing at first but it looks really good. The leather is excellent and the fit and finish incomparable. You won’t be left wanting.

The 911 Turbo S is truly a wicked machine. When you consider that it’s the fastest-accelerating road car Porsche has ever placed into open-end production, with an official 0-100 km/h time that trumps even a 458 Italia, you begin to realise just how capable it is. Avid motorheads may bemoan the engineering voodoo going on and some may also criticise Porsche for deleting the manual transmission altogether but my recommendation to the critics is, to borrow a phrase from the Americans, that they ‘get over it’ and admit that Porsche has got this one right. The new 911 Turbo really does know better than both you or me.

Yes, the Turbo S is way too fast and way too competent. Try to test it and you’ll be the one waving the white flag. But at the end of the day, it is a quintessential everyday supercar. You’ll love every second you get behind its wheel.

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