2014 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S first drive
The 911 that has it all
Photo: Justin Couture
Paderborn, Germany – Even with the side and thigh bolsters of the 911 Turbo S’s seats vice-gripping me into place, I’m squirming. As we make our way around the Bilster Berg race circuit, a barrage of G-forces smack my torso around, my head swinging about like a life-sized bobble-head doll.
By comparison, rally legend Walter Röhrl sits completely unfazed. His giant hands scarcely move to guide the steering wheel as we hurtle into a steep, sweeping downhill left that vaguely resembles the famous corkscrew at Laguna Seca before disappearing into a blind, up-hill right. He is calm. I, on the other hand, am sure my face is contorted, squished, and rapidly fading in colour.
This comes as no surprise. Despite making his name driving Audi Quattros in rally racing in the ‘80s, the Porsche 911 is Walter’s automotive home. He’s spent countless hours lapping Porsches of all sorts as one of the brand’s official testers, and the case of the new Turbo and Turbo S, both were developed and tuned based on his input. The track too has Röhrl’s signature: he helped come up with the track’s mind-boggling array of complex corners and elevation changes.
Down the undulating back straight, the digital speedometer flashes 232 km/h before Röhrl slams on the anchors with such force my retinas threaten to detach. Gulp. Two laps to go.
In the hands of a mere mortal
Photo: Justin Couture
For many, the 911 Turbo is the ultimate Porsche 911. It may not be the purest of 911s – the GT3 takes that title – but it exemplifies the car’s strengths: it’s blindingly fast, it’s ruthlessly efficient, it’s a car that punches well above its weight. Forty years in the making, the latest model continues the evolution of what was already a top-notch performer.
The 3.8-litre engine horizontally opposed six-cylinder that resides at the very rear of the car has been overhauled significantly to produce 520 hp and 487 lb.-ft. of torque. The Turbo S ups the ante further with a unique overboost function that boosts turbo pressure by 0.15 bar, ensuring complete overkill of 560 hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque.
No one will mistake the Turbo for anything other than a 911, nor will anyone mistake it for a standard 911. Previous Turbos have been based off the widened Carrera 4 all-wheel-drive models, but the new Turbo is broader still by 28 mm. The rear fender flares are nearly flat-topped, providing the Bay Street Baron with a convenient resting place for his morning Starbucks latte before climbing in.
The bumpers with bigger intakes (all black on S) work with enlarged air intakes on the rear fender haunches allow the car to breathe better, while new all-LED headlamps finish off the lightweight hybrid aluminium und schteel chassis, a first for the Turbo. Though it may be the first 911 to tip the scales at more than 1,600 kilograms (1,605 kg for the big-boy Turbo S), it is worth keeping in mind that it’s but a 20 kilo gain over the outgoing model despite being a much more substantial vehicle.
Influenced by GT3
Photo: Justin Couture
These changes alone would have made for a sizeable improvement over the outgoing Turbo, but Porsche’s engineers didn’t stop there. Instead, they started to cross-pollinate technologies, splicing bits of the latest GT3’s DNA into it. Gone, for instance, is the availability of a manual transmission. Only the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission is offered; that said, it has been updated to improve performance.
Another somewhat controversial GT3 trick is the adoption of rear-wheel steering. At low speeds, the rear wheels are angled in the opposite direction as the fronts to give the car a more agile feel. At higher speeds, the rears are angled in the same direction as the fronts to boost high-speed stability.
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