Faster, Sharper, And More Excessive Than Ever
The penny finally drops and I realise I’ve been on this road before. And in another Porsche. Well, two, actually, and both Caymans that felt at home on this twisting, undulating piece of tarmac. The Porsche I’m today, however, is a tad larger.
It’s the new 992 911 Turbo S, and the body is 50mm wider than the already girthy 992 Carrera (and 100mm wider than the Cayman, in case you’re curious). Out of the left rear-view mirror, I can see a bulging rear wheel arch (with the trademark intake) whipping past the banks of grass at the side of the road with mere centimetres to spare. The other side, meanwhile, skirts perilously close to the white centre line.
The Turbo’s excess goes further than just size, of course. A new twin-turbo flat-six derived from the Carrera’s 9A2 engine provides 641bhp and 590lb ft, making 0-62mph possible in 2.7 seconds, or in the case of this Cabriolet, 2.8.
And this is a Porsche, so it’ll achieve that figure time and time again via repeated launch control starts. Whether it’s off the line or powering you forward on the move, the way the Turbo S gathers speed is spectacular. After a sizeable dollop of lag, that thing you were looking at in the distance suddenly flashes past the windscreen, accompanied by a WOOSH as the two turbochargers gulp huge gob-fulls of air.
In the 991 Turbo, the noise of the flat-six played second fiddle to the noise of the sucking, chattering snails, resulting in a soundtrack more reminiscent of a powerful vacuum cleaner than a car. Although the shouty turbocharger stuff is still plenty high in the mix, you can hear a decent amount of the flat-six this time.
There are better-sounding cars you can buy for the money, of course, but the 911 Turbo hasn’t ever been a car you bought because of the noise. It’s a car you lust after for the shock and awe, which it provides plenty of over 3000rpm. Although the mid-range punch is mighty, you do still need to rev it out; peak power arrives at 6750rpm, just before the 7000rpm redline.
Once you’re around that area, shifting cogs is taken care of via a brutally efficient eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Taking control manually ensures you get the best out of it, but it’s slick enough when left to its own devices, even if it’s a little keen to short-shift.
With corners coming up thick and fast, however, moments of wide-open throttle are brief. We’re learning more about the handling here, which has always been a sticking point for the 911 Turbo.
It’s a car of shifting reputations, this. Once upon a time, it was known as the lairy ‘widow maker’ which would spit you backwards into a ditch if you weren’t careful. A shift to all-wheel drive meant the Turbo – rightly or wrongly – became known as an understeering blunt instrument.
The new one is a much sharper, more precise tool than its predecessors, however. Understeer is extremely hard to come by, as is oversteer; neutrality is the air of the game here. Grip and traction at both ends are phenomenal, helped by giant Pirelli P Zeroes measuring in at 255mm wide at the front and 315mm at the rear. Nail it in a tight corner, and it’s as though the Turbo S is swinging around the corner on the end of an anchor it’s dumped on the apex.
The steering may not quite buzz with feedback as it does on a hydraulically-assisted McLaren 720S, but the 992 Turbo has one of the best EPAS setups around. Porsche has this sussed better than anyone else right now, with the Turbo’s steering providing just the right amount of weight and speed. And crucially, it’s the same whatever mode you’re in.
Steering at the rear wheels, meanwhile, does a good job of masking the Turbo Cab’s 1710kg kerb weight. but in some corners, the Turbo S can feel unwieldy. It’s firm, too; on all but the smoothest roads, you’re going to want to go for Sport or Sport Plus with the chassis switched to the softer ‘Normal’ setting. Even adjusted thusly, you can find yourself being bounced around on some country roads.
Then we have to consider the performance. Is there just too much of it to be enjoyable away from a track/airfield/road in Nevada your mate Christian has closed? Well, yes and no. The more open, sweeping road I was on before this one should, in theory, be a better arena for the 911 Turbo S, but in reality, it’s proving more fun on this thin, nadgery stretch.
Given room to breathe, the Turbo S is frustrating. It gathers speed so quickly, that every application of full throttle becomes an exercise in self-control. You’ll rarely be on the power for more than a second, so even if there’s a big ol’ stretch of tarmac in front of you, there’s not a whole lot you can do with it. Legally, at least.
On a more winding stretch, however, you learn that the real satisfaction in driving the 992 Turbo S on the road comes not from how quickly it goes in a straight line, rather the venom with which spits you out of a corner, making the next one appear in an instant. The annoyance of having to back off disappears since you’re doing so to make the corner, not out of fear for your license.
When you’re not doing that sort of thing, you appreciate the 911 Turbo’s luxurious side. Everything in the cabin feels solid and plush, and in the Cabriolet, you’re nicely cocooned from the wind even with the electronically-deployed deflector folded down. With it up, there’s an inevitably big helping of road noise caused by the fat tyres, but you quickly tune that out.
This is a car you could easily rack up some miles in and with four people (provided two of them aren’t that tall) aboard. No other supercar is as useable as this.
Some might debate whether something rear-engined can be billed as a ‘supercar’, but it certainly has the right kind of pricing; the S Cabriolet starts at £165,127, with our test car specced to £178,414 thanks to options like – I kid you not – £1313 leather-trimmed air vents.
Which gets me thinking. As an all-round fast motoring prospect, wouldn’t you just be better off with a 911 Carrera 4S? It’s more comfortable, considerably less expensive, and has a level of performance that’s more usable in the real world while being still suitably rabid. It’s as fast and nearly as powerful as the 911 Turbo from a couple of generations ago, after all.
But that’s probably missing the point. You don’t buy a Turbo S because you’re being sensible. You buy it because you want the bragging rights. You want the excess. You want something with unbelievable, repeatable performance that can turn your insides to jelly with the mere pivot of your right foot. The 992 version executes that brief brilliantly, and in a more complete package than ever before.