It’s Porsche’s new £100k option, the 3.8-litre 911 Turbo, freshly arrived in Britain. And this is our chance to find out if the car that seemed so greatly improved and generally impressive hammering around Estoril last month, copes so well on a wet, cold, slippery and bumpy UK B-road.
You’ll have probably read what’s new about this car by now. If not, here are the edited highlights: relative to the last Turbo it’s got an all-new 3.8-litre flat six with a variable-vane turbo for each bank of cylinders.
It’s got 493bhp (up 20bhp) and 479lb ft (up 15lb ft). It’s got Porsche’s new seven-speed PDK double-clutch gearbox as an option. And among the other revisions, it’s got some very clever active engine mounts, a revised chassis set-up with Porsche’s active ‘PASM’ damper. It’s also lighter and more rigid than the last car.
What’s it like?
Phenomenally quick. Porsche claims 0-62mph in 3.4sec but according to our timing gear, this car will race to 60mph in just 3.2sec. Nissan’s GT-R took a mean 3.8sec to hit 60mph when we road-tested it earlier this year. The only car we’ve ever properly road-tested that did 3.2sec to 60mph was the McLaren F1.
It’s that incredible double-clutch gearbox that makes the difference. In Sport Plus mode it bangs through changes with unbelievable speed, one short intermediate ratio after another with almost no interruption in acceleration.
Very little else piles on speed as keenly as this car, up to 150mph and well beyond. And thanks to a bigger engine running less boost pressure relative to the last Turbo, throttle response is great and turbo lag next-to-absent.
Inside the car, the driving experience is improved by the addition of a slightly smaller steering wheel, which makes the car feel more wieldy than the last, and the option of conventional gearchange paddles; pull the right-hand paddle to change up, the left one to change down.
On the motorway, the new 911 Turbo is quite a bit more usable car than the last. Better cruising economy means you can get 25mpg, so a tank of fuel will last 300 miles. Those intelligent engine mounts even mean that there’s less engine vibration filtering into the cabin, and because they provide better body rigidity in extremist, Porsche has even been able to decrease the car’s chassis rates slightly, improving rolling refinement.
Since Porsche’s very first all-wheel drive version, the 911 Turbo has had crushing any-weather cross country pace, but this new one’s got much better body control than any previously. It handles and steers with greater precision too.
The four-wheel drive system is quicker to cancel out understeer, there’s less unwanted nodding from the car’s front end, and you can be more confident of the grip you’ll find at the front wheels in wet weather.
That said, this car is definitely not the last word in ultimately stability and dynamic perfection. It’s a Porsche 911, and that means it’s still hampered by a second-rate weight distribution that causes it to understeer in certain circumstances when other sports cars just wouldn’t. You can’t hurry this car into a corner; get on the power too soon and the inevitable happens.