Porsche 911 Turbo S review

Ultimate Turbo gets an extra 30bhp and a host of performance-enhancing kit. The result? McClaren F1-matching pace

Porsche could never be accused of not giving its customers what they want. The 911 is a case in point. The march of modernity should have steamrollered the fundamentally compromised old-timer decades ago, but Porsche’s loyal clientele had other ideas. And so the rear-engined icon lives on (and on), a testament to the power of evolution and the enduring spur of an audience hungry for more.

Well, ravenous actually. How else do you explain the new 911 Turbo S? The company line is that it’s merely responding to demand for a faster version of what already ranks as the fastest and most accelerative car in its current range, while at the same time, if not quite pulling the carpet from under the feet of the numerous tuning outfits who’d do it for them, giving it a big old tug.

Not that we’re complaining. In essence, the ‘S’ suffix, which Porsche has used twice before on previous-generation 911 Turbos in the latter part of their lifecycles, denotes a power and torque hike and a bundling of the performance-orientated options you’d have to pay more for on the regular 911 Turbo coupe and cabrio. Some rationalisation, too. No manual this time. This being the ultimate 997.2 version of the Turbo, it boasts the best possible figures, which means a PDK double-clutch seven-speed transmission with launch control and proper steering-wheel paddles.

It’s worth mentioning the headline stats now because, although only incrementally better than those of the already almost ridiculously rapid regular Turbo, they represent something of a landmark. Porsche claims a 0-62mph time of 3.3sec (or 3.1sec to 60). That’s as quick as a McLaren F1. It gets to 100mph in 7.1sec, barely half a second down on the Macca. All right, after that it steadily falls back, eventually topping out at 196mph. But in all real-world situations it delivers the same level of straight-line performance, which, when you think about it, is nuts. The McLaren MP4-12C will have its work cut out to do any better.

Power from the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre flat-six is up from 493 to 523bhp supported by an extra 37lb ft of torque (permanently this time, not on overboost), taking the peak to 516lb ft. This has been achieved by increasing the boost pressure from 0.8 to 1.0bar and lightly reworking the vanes of the variable geometry turbos. There’s also a carbonfibre air intake manifold. Remarkably, though, fuel economy stays the same at 24.8mpg for the combined cycle. The four-wheel-drive hardware and Porsche Traction Management system, which incorporates a mechanical limited-slip differential, are unchanged.

An option on the regular Turbo but standard on the S is PTV, or Porsche Torque Vectoring, which manipulates the rear brakes to vary the drive to each wheel to achieve a more neutral cornering balance and enhance traction when pressing on. The S gets the Sport Chrono pack as standard, too, which includes launch control and gives keener throttle, damper and stability control settings at the touch of a button. Other permanent fixtures from the regular Turbo’s option list are the dynamic engine mounts for improved rigidity and transitional handling characteristics, ceramic composite brakes, dynamic cornering headlights, two-tone leather carbon-shelled sports seats and 19-inch RS Spyder design alloy wheels.

Having driven the 911 GT3 RS barely two weeks before stepping into the Turbo S, residual impressions of that car’s sublime responsiveness, precision and agility initially shone a rather negative light on the Turbo’s way of doing things, which, for the first few miles, seemed a little heavy-handed, aloof and inert. But it takes only a short straight for respect to fill much of the vacuum left by the absence of the RS’s intimacy and tactility. The thing is just monstrously fast. Bury the throttle and the immediate convergence of torque, bellowing exhaust blare and seamless PDK shifts hurls you down the road with such sustained violence its effect is palpably narcotic. You feel your body tense, you grip the wheel a little harder and you go for it, the massive lunges of acceleration punctuated by ever-later braking points as the truly colossal stopping power of the carbon ceramics hits home.

The Turbo S doesn’t understeer much, either, and it isn’t long before the cornering speeds seem as faintly ludicrous as the acceleration and braking – all the more so on roads left greasy by a procession of rain showers. Trail-brake and jump on the throttle early and you can really feel PTV doing its stuff. 911 Turbos have always been good at exit speeds but, in this one, the pace you can carry into a bend – and preserve – is almost comical.

No, it doesn’t have anything like the finesse of a GT3, but it does have the all-purpose, all-weather firepower to destroy any road you want to point it at. Guess that’s what the customers wanted, and, for a premium of £17,336 over the regular Turbo, that’s what they’ve got.