Matt Joy went in search of the ultimate 911 and may just have found it during his review of the new 911 Turbo S.
You can’t go five minutes without a new Porsche 911 variant appearing. The 991 series has only been on sale two years and there’s already the Carrera, Carrera S, Cabriolet, Coupe, Carrera 4…you get the idea.
The latest offering has just arrived in the UK, and this time it wears the legendary Turbo badge. Both the Turbo and Turbo S models have been introduced simultaneously, both being powered by the same twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre flat six engine. The regular Turbo however offers 513bhp for the £118,349 price tag, while we tested the £140,852, 552bhp Turbo S. Bring it on.
If the 911 shape is new to you then you must have spent a fun 50 years on another planet. It’s common, certainly, but the 991 series is tasteful and restrained with enough flavour of the classic 911 silhouette to make it stand out.
In Turbo S form there’s a bit more to it, with big air intakes on the front, the wider rear shared with the Carrera 4 and a big wing on the back. There’s also active aerodynamics which increase the angle of attack on the front and rear wings for when you’re really trying hard.
You might imagine that a car offering up such ridiculous numbers would be a pain in the behind to live with, but that’s not the case. The 911 has always been the everyday supercar and the Turbo S is no different. With the PDK dual-clutch automatic as standard you can leave it in D, leave the dampers in their softest setting and cruise around in real comfort.
The cabin is also very comfortable — especially the extra-supportive electric sports seats, and getting in and out isn’t too hard on the back. The back seats are only suitable for small people however, and the boot is only 105 litres.
Performance & handling
Wow. With 660Nm of torque on offer whenever you need it and that super quick PDK gearbox always ready to switch gears, the acceleration is utterly relentless. There’s a more characterful growl from the engine than before too, but you’ll be too busy concentrating on the road ahead to truly appeciate it.
The Turbo S has a party piece; engage the launch control function and it will attempt to relocate your eyeballs into the back of your skull as it hits 62mph from rest in only 3.1 seconds. Totally effortless and scarily effective.
It’s not just about straight lines either. The Turbo S is devastatingly effective and accessible on road and track, with the various driver aids including torque vectoring and the active aero kit helping out but never taking anything away from the driver. It leaves you feeling like a hero rather than thinking the car did it all for you. Purists will prefer a GT3, but everyone else will be too busy being amazed.
Economy & environment
Not even Porsche can work miracles, but the company’s engineers have tried pretty hard. The Turbo and Turbo S are more fuel efficient than before despite the increase in performance, with greater efficiency from the engines and some clever tech elsewhere too.
The PDK gearbox now has ‘virtual’ gears in between the seven fixed ratios, created by slipping the clutch. It sounds slightly mad but the figures of 29.1mpg combined and 227g/km are remarkable considering the performance on offer. But expect to burn through fuel fast unless you are very good at avoiding temptation.
Equipment & value
There’s two ways to approach the value aspect of the 911 Turbo S. On the one hand it costs £140,000, which is undeniably a very large amount of cash. But looking at it another way, it is turbocharged, four-wheel drive with a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. It has ceramic brakes as standard (a £6,000 option on lowlier 911s) the Sport Chrono pack as standard (that normally costs £3,000) and even four-wheel steering.
There’s not much you would want to add especially given that things like the (essential) vehicle tracking system are standard, although a rear wiper at £235 is a little bit of an insult.
A car with this level of performance, grip, control and braking performance is inherently safe. Where ordinary cars might struggle, the Turbo S will stay well within its limits. Should you really get yourself into trouble however it’s reassuring to know that there’s a stack of airbags and a strong safety cell around you.
The 911 Turbo S is both a terrific achievement in terms of engineering but also in how it drives. It’s as easy to drive as a family hatchback and the comfort on offer is remarkable. Conversely it is a spectacular car to drive; incredibly fast, communicative, secure and fun. It would destroy all-comers on a track day and cruise 200 miles home with complete ease.
The only issues relate to numbers. It’s not cheap to buy and you’ll need to get on well with your insurer. Also its closest rival, the Nissan GT-R, is almost £65,000 cheaper. But it can’t match the Porsche’s comfort and everyday usability. But it’s definitely a case of horses for courses.
Model tested: Porsche 911 Turbo S
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged
Power: 560hp @ 6,500 – 6,750rpm
Torque: 660Nm or 710Nm with Sport Chrono overboost function
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 3.1s
Top speed: 197mph
Emissions: 227g/km CO2