Tuesday 24th November 2020
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First drive: Porsche 911 Turbo S (992). Image by Porsche GB.

First drive: Porsche 911 Turbo S (992)
We really liked the base 911 Carrera when we last drove a 992, so now we look at the other end of the speed spectrum with the monster Turbo S.

 



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Porsche 911 Turbo S (992)

5 5 5 5 5

The first of the really big-power 992-generation Porsche 911s lands and it's the Turbo S which gains the honour of pioneering its way beyond 500hp for the eighth iteration of the German legend. Blistering speed and blistered looks are givens for a 911 Turbo, but can this 650hp loon finally convince it has the dynamic chops to go with its indisputable showroom appeal?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe (992)
Pricing: 911 range from 82,793, Turbo S Coupe from 155,970, car as tested 172,626
Engine: 3.7-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six petrol
Transmission: PTM all-wheel drive, eight-speed PDK double-clutch automatic
Body style: two-door coupe
CO2 emissions: 271g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,175 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 23.5mpg
Top speed: 205mph
0-62mph: 2.7 seconds
Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2,500-4,000rpm
Boot space: 128 litres (front boot), 264 litres (rear seats)

What's this?

A Porsche 911 Turbo, which - in the dim and distant past of the 1980s - was the 'ultimate' fashion icon, the sports car to end all sports cars, the fastest way to travel on the roads (sort of). It arrived way back in 1975 as the harum-scarum 930 Turbo with its 'whaletail' spoiler, and it has been getting steadily quicker and steadily more secure ever since. The problem is, in 1999 another rapid Porsche 911 hoved up on the shores of Petrolhead Island. It took its name from a form of motorsport, hinting at the road-going version's connection to Porsche's competition machines, and it only became more desirable in 2003 when an RS derivative appeared, complete with nostalgic red or light blue side stripes which referenced the 1973 Carrera 2.7 RS; that's the now-incredibly-collectable classic 911 with the ducktail rear spoiler. This 1999 interloper and its ensuing 2003 RS offspring was, of course, the 911 GT3.

And since the turn of the millennium, the 911 Turbo's nose has been put well and truly out of joint by the GT3. Sniffy enthusiast types will tell you that the Turbo's particular blend of easily accessible, mammoth pace does not reward the keener driver and that its trademark fat, bulging bodywork is purely for posers to tool about town, drawing the attention of vacuous people taking snapshots with smartphones. Which, personally, we think is a bit harsh. OK, the GT3 is the better-driving car and it has that engine, but we drove a 991.1 Turbo S and thought it was amazing, and then it was updated in 2016 to 580hp and 750Nm, which is... considerably robust, eh?

Not as robust as 650hp and 800Nm, though. Grief, Porsche has pushed the boat out with this one. At the moment there is no 'plain' 911 Turbo to go at, only this flagship Turbo S, which you can have as a Coupe (as tested here) or a Cabriolet; the latter's existence being another stick for the GT3 elitists to prod the Turbo with, although same GT3 enthusiasts didn't seem to mind the criminally good 991 Speedster too much.

Anyway, speed and style have always been in the Turbo's repertoire, and the 992 take on the formula is short of neither. On the outside, its wide-boy stance means you'll be in no mistake that this is a capital-T-Turbo and not a Carrera 4S, even from a distance of about 300 yards, with the ultimate Porker's extra breadth hiding front and rear track widths increased by 45- and 10mm over its 450hp sibling. Active aerodynamics include a front splitter which folds out into view with the car in Sport Plus mode, while a section of what looks to be a fixed rear spoiler also rises up in the same setting to reduce lift at both ends of the car. With its quad exhaust exits (twin ovals if you specify the 2,180 Sports exhaust system, as fitted here) and colossal 20-inch front, 21-inch rear wheels (as standard, but 911 HUL wears upgraded Turbo S Exclusive Design alloys for a further 1,608), this thing has presence to burn.

Which isn't betrayed by the interior, which is plush - like any other 992-series car - but adorned with a few Turbo-specific tells, like the upholstery for the seats, as well as various graphics dotted here and there. Again, options enhance what is already present; options such as having the faces of the main instrument dial (245) and the standard-fit Sport Chrono package's dash-top timepiece (another 245) painted in Guards Red, to match the exterior, or upgrading the OEM GT Sports steering wheel in leather to a heated multifunction item clothed in Race-Tex material and carbon time (555). Indeed, a generous factory specification includes the 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment, 18-way electrically adjustable Adaptive Sports front seats with heating functionality, a Bose Surround Sound system with 12 speakers and 570 watts of power, Matrix LED headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus (PDLS Plus), Keyless Go, ParkAssist front and rear with a reversing camera, and cruise control. But, like any self-respecting Porsche, there's still a lengthy, pricey options list that can push the opening 156,000 ticket to more like 173,000, as with 911 HUL (which is, incidentally, a somewhat famous number plate in Porsche press car history).

Nevertheless, the fastest 992 yet looks great inside and out and, on paper, it has more than enough firepower to supply the sort of phenomenal speed that 911 Turbo buyers demand. The crux of the matter will be whether it can entertain as much in the corners as it can on the straights, so here goes...

How does it drive?

Again, standard-equipment-wise, the 911 Turbo S has a generous roster of kit to help the chassis try and cope with the enormous power of its rear-mounted engine. We've already mentioned the 45mm-wider front track, which is designed to quell understeer at the limit, and the gigantic wheels with their 315-section rear rubber, which promise to provide all the grip in the world. Porsche Traction Management (PTM), otherwise known as four-wheel drive, has been a fixture on the Turbo ever since the 993 variant arrived in 1995, while only a rapid-fire eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox could handle the monster 800Nm of torque that the motor generates.

Beyond the main mechanicals, a number of items that are normally cost options are fitted to the Turbo S, such as Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adjustable dampers, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) with an electronically controlled rear-axle diff lock, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), and the pre-requisite Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB). These things are whoppers: ten-piston front and four-piston rear fixed aluminium monobloc callipers grip discs which are 420mm in diameter at the nose and 390mm at the back. Yep, the 992's front brake discs, at 16.5 inches, are bigger than the 16-inch Fuchs alloys fitted to the original 1975 930 Turbo. Yet there's still room to add more. The lightweight carbon roof seen here, which lowers the car's centre-of-gravity a touch, is 2,517. A Sport version of PASM with a 10mm ride-height drop is a further 1,052. Even painting the PCCB callipers black, which does nothing extra for stopping power, is 581. As you can see, the 992 Turbo S has plenty of expensive choice to go at.

But let's talk about that engine. It might be called a '3.8' in all of Porsche's literature, the company might have gone so far as to label it a '3.8' on the minuscule cover you can see when you pop the 911's 'bonnet' (it's underneath the rear wing), but it's actually a 3.7. Or a 3.75, if you're feeling generous, as it has a swept capacity of 3,745cc. It is not the 3,800cc unit which saw service in the 991.2 Turbo S, but is in fact the motor from the car at the other end of the 992 scale - the 385hp Carrera - with both its turbochargers replaced by larger, variable turbine geometry (VTG) blowers. A fresh pair of uprated intercoolers are mated to the twin turbos, while the bore is increased to raise the capacity from 3.0 to 3.7 litres and, finally, new piezo injectors are fitted. The full 800Nm hits at just 2,500rpm and is held to 4,000rpm; rev it to 6,750rpm and you'll be tapping into every last one of the 650 horses.

The numbers the 992 Turbo S can post are eye-poppingly scandalous enough, such as 0-62mph in 2.7 seconds or 0-124mph in 8.9 seconds, with a 205mph top speed, but they are as nothing to actually experiencing this 911 when it's fully lit. The pace of it is simply outrageous. You have to work around a tiny snifter of turbo lag, which is more noticeable if you're in manual mode and you've got less than 2,000rpm showing, but it's negligible and the astounding hit of the VTGs once they're spinning will make you wish you had a bit more lag-time in which to compose yourself before unleashing the utter fury of that biturbo flat-six. Fast? Fast does not cover it. Fast does not adequately convey the manner in which the 911 Turbo S veers from docile to demented in the blink of an eye. Fast does not tell you how remorseless the Porsche is at racking up the big numbers - to experience it at its most gobsmacking, you'll need a German Autobahn or a very, very, very long runway, because in the UK it will smash the speed limit to pathetic little smithereens in a heartbeat if you're not careful.

Better than the crushing torrent of pace is the noise of the thing. Previous Turbos have always been a trifle taciturn and chuntery, and while there are plenty of muffled grunts and whistles from the VTGs at low speed, once the car clears its throat at around 4,000rpm, the engine takes on the traditional six-cylinder yowl. It's maybe not GT3-esque in its ability to stand the hairs on the nape of your neck on end, but it's also not a disappointment in any way, shape or form. Thank goodness for the PDK, too, which is never flustered by the ridiculous amount of power and torque which is funnelled its way. We've never not missed a manual gearbox less than we did in the 992 Turbo S.

However, where the night-and-day changes can be found when holding 992 Turbo S up to a 991 Turbo S is with regards the handling. Again, making that ongoing GT3 comparison, it's not as delicate or quite as involving as that GT division car, but the dynamic gap between the two of them is far, far smaller now. With the suspension fully loaded up in bends, the 911 Turbo S remains resolutely flat but there's a sensation that you are the key to extracting the maximum cornering speed from it, rather than the car doing it all for you. It's a very subtle distinction between this and the previous 991 Turbo S, which was reasonable fun yet maybe a touch too safe, but it's a distinction that's discernible nonetheless. This 992 does not give the air that it is merely steamrollering any given curve into total submission via the use of unyielding grip and unimpeachable traction, instead having a slight 'bobble' about its lateral-g manners which suggests it would oversteer before it understeers. Maybe 800Nm will mask many errors made during cornering by making up lost time with the explosive acceleration on the next straight, but we still maintain there's enough of an edge to the 992 Turbo S to suggest it will surprise keener drivers with its level of interactivity. You'll also not fault the steering, brakes or damping on British roads, because they're all judged to absolute perfection.

As a cruiser, the 911 Turbo S is also pretty decent, way more comfortable and easy-going than a GT3 would be, if not quite as plush as the Carrera and Carrera S models lower down the ziggurat; those massive wheels and the necessarily firm suspension see to that, introducing a firmer nature to the secondary ride quality of the Turbo S, while there's also increased tyre roar thanks to the rear Pirelli P Zeros being more than a foot wide apiece. Oh, and we also saw 18.8mpg from the red missile across a 160-mile test route, although to be fair to it, the chance to 'hypermile' never really presented itself.

True, the same accusations that could be levelled at previous Turbos could head this car's way, such as the fact that the base 992 Carrera gives an almost-as-pleasurable driving experience for a heck of a lot less cash, and - fast though it undoubtedly is - the 385hp car is much less likely to land you in jail if you decide to enjoy a bit of its power delivery from time to time. However, there's always been a model hierarchy in the 911 world and it's equally beholden of us to say that, this time around, Porsche couldn't have executed the Turbo S formula much better if it tried again a thousand times. This car is sensationally impressive.

Verdict

Maybe this is the time of the Turbo. While the impending 992 GT3 will certainly be something extra-special to look forward to, anyone who would dismiss the 992 Turbo S out of hand on past prejudices would be making a grievous mistake. Delivering rewarding handling, comfortable manners, excellent refinement and the sort of monumental speed that is normally the preserve of far-more-impractical hypercars, the Porsche 911 Turbo S is one of those machines that could conceivably lay claim to the exalted title of 'The Car That Can Do Everything'. That it is also easily the best 911 Turbo yet, by some distance, is merely the icing on the cake.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 23 Jun 2020









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2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.

2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S Coupe 992. Image by Porsche GB.








 

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