The Porsche 911 Turbo isn’t meant to be a track car. That area of expertise is the remit of other variants in the range.
In its early days, it was a tool with which well-heeled businessmen used to scare themselves silly and/or disappear backwards into hedges, but the arrival of all-wheel drive in the 993-generation morphed it into the ultimate all-weather express.
Suddenly, the 911 Turbo was almost without peer in its ability to dispatch massive distances at massive speeds in comfort and calm. And each successive generation has incrementally built on this skill set.
This has led to some detractors saying the car has become a bit ‘easy’, the driving experience too ‘sterile’. It’s not an argument MOTOR subscribes to – the previous generation won Performance Car of the Year in Turbo (2014) and Turbo S (2017) guises – but it is fair to say that the force-fed 911 often garners admiration rather than adoration.
Porsche wants to change this with the latest 992 911 Turbo. During an early prototype drive, Porsche’s sports car boss Frank-Steffen Walliser told MOTOR: “I feel we have steered the 992 Turbo fractionally more in a back-to-the-roots direction. To do so, even little things helped: stiffer joints, harder rubber bushings, tighter attachment points, modified spring and damper calibrations.”
The subtle shift in character is mirrored in Porsche’s choice of launch venue. Australian 911 Turbo launches used to happen in the Northern Territory, but while the introduction of outback speed limits has as much to do with the shift to a racetrack as anything, it does put the cars under greater dynamic scrutiny.
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A racetrack is typically required because of the 911 Turbo’s ballistic performance and the 992 is no different. A new intake system and larger variable-vane turbos with electronically controlled wastegates help the 3745cc flat-six produce 427kW at 6500rpm and 750Nm from 2250-4500rpm, the latter no longer an overboost figure but available whenever you so desire.
These numbers match the 991.2 Turbo S and so do the acceleration numbers; Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 2.8sec and 0-200km/h in 9.7sec. As an indication of progress, we clocked the previous Turbo at 0-100km/h in 3.07sec, 0-200km/h in 10.3sec and 0-400m in 10.98sec at 206.13km/h and the Turbo S at 2.9sec from 0-100km/h and a blinding 10.7sec quarter mile at 212.4km/h.
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Lined up on The Bend’s main straight, launch control spikes the revs to a shade over 5000rpm. Lifting your left foot off the brake drops the clutches, all four wheels spin and your world switches to double speed. The forces involved are unbelievable and despite this being the first launch and the ambient temperature 32˚C, 0-100km/h flashes up in 2.827sec.
That number is a bit of a surprise – Porsches normally beat their acceleration claims – but normal service is quickly resumed with 0-200km/h taking 9.254sec (almost half a second quicker than the claim) and the quarter-mile is crossed in 10.545sec at 214.3km/h. Berserk.
Aside from the added grunt, there are a few engineering tricks that explain this extra turn of speed. The first is the introduction of an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, which is partly responsible for the 911 Turbo’s weight swelling to 1640kg but compensates with quicker shifts and a greater ratio spread.
The front diff is stronger and the transfer case can now send up to 500Nm to the front wheels to improve traction, while those wheels are now 45mm further apart for a much wider footprint. Rear track is increased by 10mm, the wheels are staggered 20 x 9.0-inch front and 21 x 11.5-inch rear and wear bigger boots, 255/35 and 315/30 respectively.
This wider stance, particularly at the front, means that more than ever the lazy or inexperienced driver can drive the 911 Turbo fast. Just ram on the brakes then wrench the steering wheel and there’s enough front-end response – thanks to the wider tracks and the clever rear-wheel steering – that the nose will go roughly where you want it; stamp the throttle on exit and the all-wheel-drive system will keep pulling you with the stability control subtly mopping up any potential indiscretions.
Should you drive ‘properly’, though, altering your inputs to maximise the car’s unusual weight distribution and the 911 Turbo is simply devastating. The launch cars were fitted with the optional PDCC active anti-roll bars but were on regular road tyres and steel brakes (not the $20,000+ optional carbon-ceramics) yet could still tolerate, even relish, an almost inhumane level of punishment.
Despite diving into Turn One at almost 270km/h from basically the 150m mark, the monster brakes – 408mm front rotors with six-piston calipers and 380mm rear rotors with four-potters – refused to wilt, only beginning to groan after a full day of abuse.
Carrying the brake pedal to the apex keeps the nose pinned or, if you’re really ambitious, loosens the rear slightly to open up the exit of the corner.
Resist the temptation to mash the throttle; instead, feed it in slightly and you’ll quash any potential power understeer. If the nose is already pinned, flooring the throttle will actually kick the rear sideways, but more often than not you’ll just slingshot out of the corner.
Oh, and leave the gearbox in automatic, too. Purists will no doubt be aghast and it sounds lazy, but the speed with which the 911 Turbo fires out of slow corners will almost certainly have you hitting the rev limiter, whereas the shift logic when left to its own devices is simply flawless.
It’s a breathtaking experience, but one that can be made sharper still if you have the will and the wallet. As well as the aforementioned active anti-roll bars and composite brakes – which increase the front rotor size to 420mm with 10-piston calipers and the rear rotors to 390mm) – there is the option of a Sport chassis ($3120) for the first time. This drops the ride height by 10mm and installs helper springs on the rear axle for greater stability under heavy load.
A sports exhaust ($6470) also appears on the options list for the first time, giving the Turbo a deep six-cylinder growl with fireworks on the over-run. Those truly dedicated to lowering their laps times can also select a carbon roof ($7470) or the Lightweight Design Package, which sheds 30kg thanks to lightweight bucket seats, removal of the rear seats and less sound insulation. Include purely cosmetic options and the list is much longer again.
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Consider that the 911 Turbo Coupe now starts from $396,500 before options and on-roads and your driveaway price is likely to be north of $500,000. Then again, there is virtually nothing to criticise, in a circuit environment at least.
The only real negative is the Turbo’s thirst for consumables; expect to go through a set of tyres in a day and a tank of fuel in less than 150km at full noise.
There are still plenty of questions to answer regarding the new 911 Turbo and we’ll do so once we get it on our favourite roads in due course – after all, that’s where it’s designed to do its best work.
Nevertheless, the fact that this ‘luxury’, grand touring 911 can so comprehensively tear apart a racetrack is a remarkable achievement.
Likes: ludicrous performance; brilliant driving engagement; stamina
Dislikes: heavy; massive fuel thirst on track; options pricing
Body: 2-door, 2+2-seat coupe
Engine: 3745cc flat-6cyl, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Bore/stroke: 102.0 x 76.4mm
Power: 427kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 750Nm @ 2250-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 2.8sec (tested)
Top Speed: 320km/h (claimed)
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch
Suspension: struts, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, steel springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar (r)
Tracks: 1583/1600mm (f/r)
Steering: electrically assisted rack-and-pinion; rear-wheel steering
Brakes: 408mm ventilated/drilled discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 380mm ventilated/drilled discs, 4-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 20 x 9.0-inch (f); 21 x 11.5-inch (r)
Tyres: 255/35 ZR20 (f); 315/30 ZR21 (r)