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All-encompassing flagship 911 returns for the 992 generation with an altered outlook

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There’s an unusual symmetry at play with the subject of this week’s road test.

Since 1974, the distinguishing element of any Porsche 911 Turbo had been its forced-induction flat six, but this changed in 2016 when the regular Porsche 911 (991) Carrera and its scions sprouted turbochargers. At a stroke, every Porsche 911 except the mesmerising 991 GT3 went turbo, and because of this the real McCoy lost some originality. Simply, events beyond its control meant the 911 Turbo became much more akin to the basic 911 Carrera but no less expensive. Not great.

I attempted to call out the numbers in 10mph increments from 20mph upwards and actually tripped up over the word 'fifty' because, before my mouth could even wrap itself around the second syllable, 60mph had flashed up

Bear this in mind when you consider that, for the latest, 992-based incarnation of The Fastest Point-to-Point Car in the World, Porsche has tried to address one of the model’s long-standing drawbacks, which is that it has generally been a touch inert in its handling. Too doggedly stable and less accessible and adjustable than what we know the 911 recipe can generate. This time you might duly say the aim has been to make the dynamics more Carrera-like.

It means that, in the space of one generation, the 911 Turbo has been squeezed into much the same conceptual space as the regular 911 Carrera, for reasons both accidental and deliberate. However, it still occupies flagship status in the range with an asking price to match: £168,900 for our Turbo S test car, which is nearly twice that of the 911 Carrera and, more pointedly, on a par with the Ferrari Roma.

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So could this new 911 Turbo be the greatest take on the all-weather, mega-911 template first laid down in 1988 by the Porsche 959? Or is the model now something of an overpriced relic, surplus to real-world requirements and only for those who crave excess and have the funds to match?

Range at a glance

The Porsche 911 range continues to proliferate, and the imminent arrival of the GT3 RS will only broaden it. After that, the only conspicuous gap is for a GT2 or GT2 RS, neither of which has been confirmed for the 992 generation. For now, the Turbo S is the most powerful 911, if not the most expensive, since the arrival of the Sport Classic.

EnginesPower
Porsche 911 Carrera/Carrera 4380bhp
Porsche 911 Carrera S/Carrera 4S444bhp
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS/Carrera 4 GTS473bhp
Porsche 911 GT3/GT3 Touring503bhp
Porsche 911 Turbo572bhp
Porsche 911 Turbo S*641bhp
Porsche 911 Sport Classic543bhp
Porsche 911 GT3 RS517bhp

*Model tested

TRANSMISSIONS

8-spd dual-clutch automatic*

7-spd dual-clutch automatic (GT3)

7-spd manual (S, GTS, Sport Classic)

6-spd manual (GT3)   

DESIGN & STYLING

02 Porsche 911 Turbo RT 2022 side pan

The core Porsche 911 Turbo recipe hasn’t changed since the model first acquired front driveshafts for the 993 era. An indecently strong, twin-turbocharged, rear-mounted flat six sends power and torque to all four corners at all times.

For this latest generation, the 3.7-litre engine is an 11mm-bored-out take on the 3.0-litre unit in the Porsche 911 Carrera and makes 572bhp in the Turbo and 641bhp in the Turbo S. It’s fitted with variable-geometry turbochargers larger than those of its predecessor (the current Carrera’s remain fixed) and the respiratory system is bespoke, with the engine fed not only through the open-worked rear deck but also through the hallmark intakes in the haunches.

An extending, split-level wing has been a feature of the 911 Turbo since the 996 and is now more effective than ever, contributing to 170kg of downforce in its Performance position. The aluminium struts are quite fetching, too.

Elsewhere, piezo fuel injection is said to improve response and new electronically controlled wastegates contribute to even more precise boost control. Drive is channelled through the same eight-speed PDK item used by the Carrera, only adapted with new steel plates and a reinforced gearset. That gearset also uses a shorter first and longer eighth gear than found in the Porsche 991 Turbo, for better standing starts and more subdued cruising respectively.

Note, too, that the Carrera’s transfer case is bolstered with extra water-cooling and structural reinforcement and can now in theory send 369lb ft – almost two-thirds of the Turbo S’s 590lb ft total output – to the front axle.

And it’s at the front axle where the new Turbo gets interesting. Compared with its predecessor, track width grows 42mm, yet it’s up only 10mm at the back, and why else would you engineer such a marked difference if not to engender an oversteer balance? In a similar vein, the speed of the electromechanical steering rack has increased 6% and the car now wears a staggered wheel set-up: 20in at the front, 21in at the back, with the same size of contact patch as the Porsche 911 GT3. Meanwhile, rear steering is standard in the Turbo or Turbo S, though the latter also comes equipped with Porsche’s PDCC active anti-roll bars.

Lastly, two suspension set-ups are available for the first time. Both have new, faster-reacting dampers, though the PASM Sport option (not fitted to our test car) is 10mm lower and comes with helper springs at the rear, to help locate the mainspring after moments of full extension.

INTERIOR

09 Porsche 911 Turbo RT 2022 dash

The cabin of the Porsche 911 Turbo S is essentially the same excellent one you will find in the Porsche 911 Carrera. There are some unique elements – the odd insignia, and the diagonal stitching on the door-trim inlay that pays homage to the original 930 911 Turbo – and the specification is high, particularly in Turbo S guise, but the fundamentals are unchanged. That means a 2+2 layout with a relatively high false transmission tunnel, plus the 911’s traditional, monolithic-looking dashboard, which for the 992 generation features an artful shelf that can be had in several fetching material finishes.

Perceived quality is sky-high, and while many people still take issue with the stubby gear selector, in general Porsche’s plastics feel and look so fine that it plays perfectly into the brand’s sport-luxe vibe. Note, however, that the major touchpoints continue to use more authentically expensive-feeling materials.

Attractive, 18-way sports seats are standard. For everyday use and over distance, they are faultless, but on B-roads a touch more bolstering would be welcome. The tiny rear seats are intended only for young children, although adults can endure short journeys so long as the front-seat passenger slides as far forward as possible.

Does it all feel worth £170,000? Inevitably, not always. It’s a little too formulaic, although the right specification helps. Our car’s lurid Bordeaux Red leather in tandem with the GT Silver exterior heightened the feeling of opulence, but more ordinary combinations might leave you feeling a bit short-changed.

Luggage space remains excellent. Up-front storage is fine, with deep door pockets, but the capacious front boot and the ability to throw large bags into the rear of the car make the Turbo S far more suited to touring than any mid-engined alternatives.

Multimedia system

Our 2022-model-year test car was fitted with Porsche’s latest infotainment system, called PCM 6.0.

The display itself, neatly and subtly integrated into the dashboard, is unchanged, but the digital interface now uses coloured icons and is sharper than before.

More significant for many owners will be the fact that there is wireless Android Auto connectivity for the first time, joining Apple CarPlay.

Duly, and because it’s possible to access so much trip and vehicle information via the screens inside the main instrument binnacle, we chose to use Android Auto most of the time. It’s a seamless set-up, with the menus, maps and music-streaming programmes taking up almost the entire width of the screen rather than just a portion of it, as sometimes happens with less than perfect smartphone mirroring integrations. All very slick.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

18 Porsche 911 Turbo RT 2022 engine

There’s something polished but at the same time likeably brutish and unfiltered about the 3.7-litre flat six in the Porsche 911 Turbo. Granted, this is not the most musical unit, but the fact you can hear the mechanicals going about their business at lower speeds and the way the boost manically builds to 590lb ft at 2500rpm make it undeniably entertaining.

The same applies to the improved top end of the rev range, where the rotational energy of the crankshaft seems to reach a new, higher level of intensity that leaves you feeling that the 7200rpm limiter is at least 1000rpm too conservative. At the redline, the dual-clutch gearbox will then execute an upshift of such exquisite precision that you will forgive those occasional moments when it can hiccup lightly while downshifting at town speeds. This is probably the only objective qualm we have with this car’s powertrain, and most of the time you will simply marvel at how elegantly it balances drivability with occasional, freakish moments of all-out attack.

The Porsche brakes quicker than the 230kg-lighter McLaren 720S and does so on more usual tyres. Pulling up from 70mph in less than 40 metres is borderline absurd for something comparatively ordinary.

Just how freakish are those moments? Rarely will you get the chance, or feel the need, to fully experience them on the road, so we will let the telemetry data do the talking. The through-the-gears sprint from 30-70mph takes just 2.0sec – three-tenths less than even a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ manages and seven-tenths quicker than the Porsche 911 GT3. Standout examples of in-gear pace include 40-60mph in second gear at 1.0sec and 60-80mph in third gear at 1.5sec. And, to demonstrate that the car’s acceleration does not simply tail off once you’re into triple figures, 100-120mph in fourth gear takes 2.3sec. In fact, in taking 11.2sec to reach 140mph, the Turbo S proved precisely as quick as the 14bhp-less-powerful but 502kg-lighter McLaren F1 did back in May 1994.

As for standing starts, that is simply a matter of selecting Sport Plus mode, holding the car on its carbon-ceramic brakes while you build up around 5000rpm, then letting it fire itself forward, perhaps with just a vestige of wheelspin from the 315-section Pirelli P Zeros in first. From then on, traction is absolute, gearshifts are barely noticeable and 60mph appears in 2.5sec, 100mph well inside the six-second mark. A 911 this might be, but the performance is supercar-grade all day long.

RIDE & HANDLING

20 Porsche 911 Turbo RT 2022 front corner

The heaviest-ever Porsche 911 Turbo is also one of the most cohesive and engaging cars to carry the name. The iron-clad stability of previous generations remains – is enhanced, even, thanks to the wider tracks and advances in the damping – yet the 992 simultaneously brings an added feeling of rear-propelled balance akin to what you will get in simpler Porsche 911s, and that has previously been missing for the ground-based missile of the line-up.

Despite the sizeable front contact patches, the steering is also lighter in its motion and crisper in its initial response than that of any other 4WD 911, and it transmits the road surface with reassuring clarity but without ever hunting imperfections. It’s nicely judged indeed.

Wet mode detects soggy roads via acoustic sensors in the wheel housings and adjusts the chassis electronics for maximum stability, as well as damping throttle response and punting more torque to the front axle by default.

The result is a car that is engaging but undemanding to drive at sensible speeds on the road; whose trajectory can be subtly altered mid-corner by either opening or closing the throttle a touch; and that doesn’t rely on obscene straight-line performance to reward its driver. Simply, the Turbo S seems a more cohesive sports car than ever. Not that speed doesn’t play its part. The 992 generation gets better with pace and commitment, and the more you can load up the suspension in corners, the more layers of handling finesse it will show you. On the firm brakes, the nose can be neatly drawn into tighter corners, whereafter the throttle can be picked up early and generously to tease the rear axle ever so slightly wide. It’s this kind of delicacy and precision that earlier 911 Turbos have lacked.

As for point-to-point pace, this car remains something of a benchmark. There are moments when its 1640kg – closer to 1750kg when you account for driver and fuel – crystallises and the glut of mass at the rear feels uncomfortable, but they are fleeting. In general, the ability of this chassis to put so much power and torque onto an uneven, possibly damp road surface is uncanny, and its ability to sustain or increase momentum on even the most challenging B-roads utterly remarkable.

Comfort and isolation

Any 911 transmits a considerable amount of road roar into the cabin via its heavily loaded rear axle. This is one of the only remaining drawbacks to positioning the engine so far back in the chassis, but it is one you should take seriously if you intend to cover plenty of touring miles in your 911 Turbo S. Our test car’s 74dBA reading at 70mph (most mid-engined alternatives hover around the 78dBA mark at this speed) is enough to dent the car’s otherwise spectacular levels of year-round, multi-mission appeal. It’s also an excellent reason to avoid the Lightweight Package (see ‘Spec advice’, p41), which is guaranteed to exacerbate the problem.

Elsewhere, the Turbo S could hardly be more accommodating. The large glasshouse makes for a pleasing, airy ambience, and while this is the widest car of its lineage by some margin, it’s no more difficult to place on the road than any basic Porsche 911 Carrera. For something of such stirring performance potential, off duty it covers ground with ease, the suspension working with controlled pliancy.

Equally, when trundling, moments of true brittleness over threadbare surfaces are few, despite the substantial dimensions of the staggered wheels and the paucity of sidewall. As for low-speed driving, neither do you really need to worry about dinging the front splitter, as you do with many of the Porsche’s mid-engined classmates. However, a nose-lifter is available as an optional extra for those with steep driveways, or simply for peace of mind.

At this point, we must reiterate that our test car was not optioned with the lower-riding PASM Sport suspension set-up. Several testers have previously driven a Turbo S so equipped and there’s no doubt that, while improving the steering response and agility of the car, it erodes ride quality to the extent that it feels only just acceptable. Far better, in our opinion, to stick with the standard-fit PASM suspension, whose firmer damper setting is more than adequate for fast road driving and whose default rates are very nicely judged.

That word of warning aside, and with the fair caveat of cabin noise, it’s fair to say that no other car in this sphere of price and pace is quite as usable as the 911 Turbo S.

Track Notes

The Turbo S produced a dry lap time that matched the 911 GT3, despite being some 225kg heavier and wearing not semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres but Pirelli P Zeros intended only for road use.

So great is the Turbo S’s traction potential that it allows the engine to unload almost all of its incredible reserves throughout much of the lap. Indefatigable brakes that can be punched hard help, but it’s the car’s ability to exit second- and third-gear corners with slingshot intensity that makes it so fast. Body control is also excellent, and this allows you to hold the throttle wide open through committed direction changes in the middle gears.

That said, the Turbo S still doesn’t rotate as easily as some other 911s and sometimes requires a degree of patience before you can let the powertrain rip. High traction levels can also lull you into a false sense of security, and if the rear axle does slew wide, it can do so quite suddenly – just enough to keep you on your toes.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

01 Porsche 911 Turbo RT 2022 Hero Track

The Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S have never been much of a bargain. Yes, in pure performance terms you will struggle to go quicker for less (or indeed more) outlay, but similarly excellent and cheaper derivatives in the Porsche 911 range always ensure the Turbo models are seen for what they really are: epic devices that to an extent exist only to prove what is theoretically possible, which is inevitably far beyond what you would ever need on the road.

Approaching £170,000 before extras and with laugh-out-loud performance on tap, the 992 generation is no different. That asking price means rivals range from the V8 version of the Bentley Continental GT to the Ferrari Roma and, just maybe, a judiciously optioned McLaren Artura. Also consider the Audi R8 V10 Performance, which costs roughly £18,000 less than the Porsche, despite featuring carbon-ceramic brakes as standard and one of the greatest engines of the modern era. Arguably all these cars exude more ‘specialness’ than the Porsche, though part of the Turbo’s appeal is that in technical terms it mixes in this particular circle yet doesn’t feel the need to shout about it.

The £6809 Lightweight Package dumps the rear seats, brings full buckets up front, cuts insulation materials and adds the 10mm-lowered PASM Sport suspension. It saves 30kg in total and turns the car into something of a street fighter. Owners who tour should refrain from PASM Sport, because the difference is marked.

If there’s one ace card the Porsche can play, it’s fuel economy. Day to day you can expect around 25mpg, which is more than respectable for any 641bhp supercar. However, it’s the 36.3mpg our test car returned on touring runs that was especially impressive, making for more than 500 miles between refills.

VERDICT

22 Porsche 911 Turbo RT 2022 static

You might feel a pang of sympathy for the Porsche 911 Turbo. Its role has always been to marry the usability of the garden 911 with supercar-matching performance. Yet, in 2022, so rapid is any PDK-equipped Porsche 911 Carrera S that the (true) Turbo seems more than ever the rebel without any cause. Neither, at least compared with its mid- and front-engined rivals at this price, does it have much in the way of outright glamour to fall back on and distance it from range-mates.

Conversely, this should serve only to make the remarkable 992 Turbo S an even rarer and more special sight than it might otherwise be, and what a proposition it offers to those charmed enough to splash out. For one thing, know that this is probably the quickest any-weather point-to-point series-production car in the world, even in the era of the Ferrari SF90. But also know that strategic tweaks to the chassis fundamentals have unlocked dynamism unknown to its predecessor. The differences are subtle but unmistakable, and they make the car more capable accomplice than po-faced powerhouse. This is now a more likeable and engaging machine, and one that still trades avidly in the art of excess.

Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017, arriving from Evo magazine, and is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests, performance benchmarking and supercar lap-times, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found on Autocar's YouTube channel

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year, and focuses mainly on the more driver-orientated products, as is tradition at Autocar. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat. 

Away from work, but remaining on the subject of cars, Richard owns an eight-valve Integrale, loves watching sportscar racing, and holds a post-grad in transport engineering.