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Driven: Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.

Driven: Porsche 911 Turbo S
It might be too powerful for the realities of UK roads, but the epic 911 Turbo S is brilliant nonetheless.

 



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| Test drive | Porsche 911 Turbo S |

Overall rating: 5 5 5 5 5

Good points: blistering pace, mammoth traction, superb driver controls, the whole 911 Turbo legend distilled into the 991.
Not so good: would a non-S Turbo be just as good for £22,500 less?

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche 911 Turbo S (991)
Pricing: £140,852 basic; £141,458 as tested
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged 'boxer' six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
Rivals: Audi R8 V10 Plus, McLaren MP4-12C, Nissan GT-R
CO2 emissions: 227g/km
Combined economy: 29mpg
Top speed: 197mph
0-62mph: 3.1 seconds
Power: 560hp at 6,500- to 6,750rpm
Torque: 750Nm from 2,100- to 4,250rpm

Our view:

Let's try and address the elephant in the room first up - that old adage of 'it's too much car for our roads'. I've even been guilty of using this gem in a quick response to a friend when talking about the 560hp Porsche 911 Turbo S. And yes, even on gentle throttle applications, the big 991 can have you doing speeds that would make national headlines.

But, rationally, the vast majority of cars nowadays can comfortably break speed limits; most hot hatches are capable of 0-62mph in six seconds and over 150mph, so criticising the Porsche for this trait seems a bit unfair. What's more relevant is whether the 911 Turbo is just the poseur's choice or whether it actually remains a relevant performance icon in today's crowded marketplace.

Aesthetically, the 911's wide rear track, giant rear three-quarters and large wing won't be to all tastes. Neither will this particular car's all-red interior, which is striking to say the least. I, however, love both the aggressive exterior and this cabin, because both the ergonomics and haptics are right on the money. It is similar to that of other Porsches, though, which might bother you if you've just clambered out of a lower-spec Cayman costing a third as much.

The major driving controls are sublime. The steering is from the GT3 school of feedback, which means it's phenomenal, the carbon brakes are faultless and the twin-clutch PDK gearbox is amazing. What's even better is the ride. The very roughest surfaces upset the Turbo S, down in part to the beautiful 20-inch alloys, but it can put on the pretence of a GT when you're lolloping along a motorway using cruise control.

It's even reasonably practical. No, I've not gone mad - the huge front boot is capable of taking a fair amount of stuff, while you've got the vestigial rear seats as extra stowage space. But what was most amazing was its fuel economy. On a long motorway run to Heathrow, its two huge turbochargers sitting idle at 75mph, it managed a scarcely credible 29.1mpg. It then went even better on the way back, hitting an indicated 31mpg - from a 560hp, four-wheel drive monster like this, that's genuinely amazing.

Of course, the dominating attribute is the engine. The 911 can potter around like a kitten if you feather the throttle and it's a cinch to keep it to 30mph in towns. Nevertheless, the first time you summon up full-throttle acceleration is eye-opening, even if you've got a lot of experience of fast cars. Cliché, maybe, but it really does redefine your conception of the word 'rapid'. Punching 40hp and 40Nm more than the standard Turbo into the ground, it feels more like take-off thrust rather than torque as you get the trademark small-of-your-back pressure concomitant with immense acceleration. The noise is guttural and atavistic, the barmy increase in pace never-ending as you close in on 7,000rpm. It is absolutely sensational and I for one am glad cars like this still exist. Quite how the next generation 911 Turbo S will go faster than this without bothering a 918 is beyond me; I'm sure Porsche will manage it, though.

But it's not just point-and-squirt. You can throw the Turbo S into bends in a way that would have seen you shuffle off the mortal coil had you done the same in a 930 whale tail. The new car still naturally commands respect, and you are always aware of the physics of the 3.8 out back, but there's adjustability in the Porsche's chassis that means you actively enjoy barrelling along bumpy B-roads, rather than sitting there clinging on for dear life in mortal terror. A GT3 may be more precise and rewarding, but the Turbo S is definitely not a dullard.

As mentioned on our first drive, the S comes practically fully-laden with equipment - all the usual Porsche abbreviations, like PCCB, PDDC, PTM and PDK, are fitted - and that goes some way to justifying the car's colossal £141,000 outlay. However, what makes the price tag of the Turbo S look inflated is the cost of the 'standard' Turbo, which is a useful £22,500 or so less than it.

But go all-out some people will, and owning a Turbo S is like having nuclear capability - you hope the 911's frightening potential ensures that other road users treat you with due deference so that you never have to deploy it. Which is a shame, because when you do decide to push the button, the devastation this incredible Porsche can wreak on any given road is compelling and fantastic. There's no way something with this amount of power and torque should be so tractable and forgiving; as an engineering achievement, it's remarkable.

Do you need this sort of gargantuan thump? Maybe not - yet it is wonderful knowing it's there. And the 911 Turbo S is an all-round wonderful machine. In a world without speed limits, it would be damn near perfect. It's not far off flawless as it is, anyway.

Alternatives:

Audi R8 V10 Plus: cheaper, mid-engined, yet slower and thirstier; has less heritage than the 911 too.
McLaren MP4-12C: for something £20k more than the Porsche, it lacks some of the visual and dynamic drama you'd expect of a genuine supercar.
Nissan GT-R: fans of either car aren't fans of the other - but, for what it's worth, the R35 lacks the badge cred of the Turbo S.


Matt Robinson - 26 Mar 2014









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2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.



2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Image by Matt Robinson.
 






 

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