What is it?
The new Porsche 911 Turbo. Unveiled in at last month’s Frankfurt motor show, the latest evolution of Zuffenhausen’s uber coupe/cabriolet has been extensively reworked in a two year program that Porsche’s head of passenger car development, August Achleitner, claims has made it an even better and more entertaining car to drive then ever before.
Given the adrenalin inducing appeal of the old 911 Turbo – a car we described as the best all weather supercar of all time not all that long ago, it is hard to believe such a thing is possible at all. Still, it would be very out of character for Porsche to unleash a new model that didn’t, in some little way at least, improve on the one it replaces.
Not that it’s reflected in the styling. Tweaks include new titanium-coloured louvers in the front side air ducts, LED daytime driving lamps residing in the place previously taken up by the fog lamps, revised exterior mirrors with a new double arm design, altered tail lamp graphics with LEDs as well as larger tail pipes poking out through the rear valance.
The old but mightily effective multi-point fuel injected 3.6-litre flat six-cylinder petrol engine with its twin variable vane turbochargers, relatively low 9.0:1 compression ratio and split deck design has been resigned to history.
It’s replaced by a more powerful direct-injected 3.8-litre version of Porsche’s classic flat six-cylinder running newly reworked twin variable vane turbochargers, higher 9.8:1 compression ratio and closed deck architecture which is claimed to boost rigidity. In doing so, peak power climbs from 473bhp to 493bhp at 6000rpm while torque has increased from an already hugely potent 464lb ft in the outgoing engine to 479lb ft between 1950 and 5000rpm.
Along with the new engine, there’s also a new optional gearbox in the form of a new seven-speed PDK gearbox. Fitted to the car we drove, it replaces the Mercedes-Benz produced five speed automatic offered on the old 911 Turbo.
What’s it like?
Mind blowing. The bare performance figures - 0-to-62mph in 3.4sec, 0-to-100mph in 7.0sec and 193mph top speed - hint at something very special and better its predecessor in each case. But the way the 911 Turbo goes about its business almost defies conventional road car logic.
You’d likely find a more powerful and faster car over a wide and smooth surfaced race track. But on normal roads – the sort you and I encounter every day with varying surfaces, odd cambers and all variety of hidden surprises like those served up at the car’s launch in Portugal this week, I seriously doubt any rival – not even a Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo or Porsche Carrera GT - would come close to matching it for sheer pace or outright dynamic prowess for any length of time.
It is the engine, more than anything else, that stands out. Hard as it may be to image given the sort of power it develops, there is no discernable turbo lag at all. Owing to the increased capacity and higher compression ratio, Porsche has actually decided to dial back boost pressure a touch, from a previous 1.0 to a nominal 0.8 bar, in the interests of added driveability. The result is even keener throttle response and a level of flexibility you really have to experience to believe.