Over the years we’ve become accustomed to the 911 Turbo making incremental steps in performance midway through its model cycle. What we have here, though, is a much larger increase than is traditionally the case. The new 911 Turbo S is ferociously quick.
The headlining 0-62mph time is the figure 911 product director August Achleitner prefers to drop into any discussion as a means of outlining the performance gains made, even revealing that the 2.9sec figure it is on the conservative side. “We’ve actually measured it at 2.6sec in individual runs,” he says.
But it is the 0-100mph time of 6.8sec, including a phenomenal 50 to 75mph split of 1.8sec, that better highlights the explosiveness of the acceleration, making the Turbo quicker to 100mph than all but a handful of road-legal supercars. Not even the 918 Spyder can claim to offer the same sort of performance out of the blocks, says Achleitner.
The subtle changes to the engine and four-wheel drive system ratchet up the overall ability of the 911 Turbo S considerably, not only making it faster in a straight line but also even more proficient on challenging roads or race tracks. The most impressive factor about the handling is the sheer willingness to turn into corners and the huge momentum it manages to carry through to the exit while maintaining stunning levels of grip and body control.
Porsche says it has refined the chassis without going into too much detail about where the changes are concentrated. Whatever Achleitner and his crew have done, it works wonders. There’s greater immediacy to its actions and an altogether more entertaining feel than ever before, with the front and rear steering systems seemingly more in tune with one another, especially when you’re committed to a corner.
It is apparent the reworked underpinnings have been honed on a race track, because the instant you think about lining up towards the apex, the Porsche slices into the corner with wonderful precision. With the revised four-wheel drive system doling out power with faster reflexes than ever before, the 911 Turbo S is terrifically neutral at anything but truly insane cornering speeds. Even then, it can make you look like a hero when you overcook it on entry.
Arrive at a corner too quickly and you sometimes get a trace of nerve-settling understeer during the first degrees of lock. However, it is only a fleeting interlude before the Pirelli P-Zeros begin to bite. When they do, you’re able to exploit the added power without great fear of retribution; the rear end obeys throttle inputs with such immediacy and authority that it actually feels like a rear-drive car when you’re determined with your right foot out of tighter corners.
You need a track to get confidently anywhere near the limit of its handling prowess. Porsche has shaved a significant 9.0sec off the time set by the old 911 Turbo S during testing at the Nürburgring, establishing a new benchmark of 7min 18sec on standard tyres.
Around Kyalami, the new Turbo S felt magnificent, to be honest, with greater ability in each and every facet of its dynamic character – greater straight-line speed, greater precision, greater braking prowess and greater grip.
You get out of it after a series of hot laps full of appreciation for its ability and a yearning for more time behind the wheel. It is not a particularly taxing car to drive fast on a track, not on a physical level at least. But because it is so quick it still requires your undivided attention.
The crowning achievement is that the 911 Turbo S feels every bit at home on the road as it does at the track. Yes, there is some surface sensitivity on the low-profile rubber, but it rides exceptionally well in all but the firmest of its damper settings. And the added torque loading sometimes causes the gearbox to jolt in constant stop-start traffic. Otherwise, there’s little else to fault. The overall ease of operation and accessibility of its performance is astonishing.