From £120,5988
Top-billing 911 arrives in Britain with the power and a price tag to match

What is it?

You’re looking at the quickest car in the world.

Other exotic machines have higher top speeds than this Porsche’s conservative claim of 205mph. And some lightweight, high-downforce specials generate greater cornering forces. But point-to-point, on our unpredictable roads, I’m confident the only thing that can live with the new 911 Turbo S is another 911 Turbo S.

This has always been the role of the 911 Turbo, though only in the mid-1990s, when Porsche added front driveshafts to the recipe, did the model become the byword it is now for security underwheel as well as crushing speed. The 992-generation car now advances its lineage and adds active anti-roll bars, staggered wheels and a more comprehensive active-aero set-up to the rear-wheel steering introduced for its predecessor.

The new Turbo S is also wider than before – monstrously so by 911 standards, spreading itself 48mm further across the road at the rear axle than the regular 911 Carrera, which itself possesses an unusually curvaceous body. Adaptive dampers, torque-vectoring and carbon-ceramic brakes complete this technological rolling fortress, and our car is also optioned with 10mm-lower sports suspension.  

As for what Porsche has stuffed into the tight engine-bay, since the mainline 911 range became turbocharged in 2016, you may wonder how the actual Turbo distinguishes itself. The answer is to be found with one glance of the spec sheet or, frankly, one flex of the ankle.

Weissach’s engineers have taken the 3.0-litre flat-six from the Carrera, carved it out to 3.7 litres and fitted symmetrical variable-geometry turbos with generously proportioned turbine wheels. There’s also a new intake system, which sucks air in not only from the characteristic haunch vents but also now from ram-air-style intakes at the base of the split-level wing.

The result is a fizzier but simultaneously boomier and more intense engine note than the regular Carrera. That plus the mighty pairing of 641bhp at 6750rpm with 590lb ft at only 2500rpm. It’s enough to propel the Turbo S to 124mph one second quicker than it took the old model, which might not sound much but is the automotive equivalent of shaving 0.5sec from Usain Bolt’s 100m time.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Kuga 2020 road test review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    Car review
    SUV practicality, Focus underpinnings, plug-in hybrid tech: is this another...
  • Alpina B3 2020 first drive review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    First Drive
    Bavaria's alternative M3 gets an added injection of performance and...
  • Hyundai i30 N 2020 UK first drive review - hero front
    2 July 2020
    First Drive
    Suspension tweaks aim to make the Hyundai hot hatch a more usable daily...
Back to top

What's it like?

On warm British roads, the Turbo S feels every bit as frighteningly quick as you can imagine – more so, perhaps.

What’s so shocking is how little torque it squanders, even from a standing start, or when the throttle pedal is clumsily depressed at some generous but normally inadvisable steering angle. Traction and grip are absolute unless you diligently go looking to exploit the car’s tail-heavy balance, and even then you’ll find poise that hints at almost bottomless reserves of ability. Much of time it seems that you, the driver, are merely tolerated, your mistakes mopped up by this sensational machine as it thunders down the road.

The magic is that you'll take it all for granted, when in fact this car's confidence-inspiring manners, which securely underpin its absurd performance potential, are the result of numerous thoughtfully and skillfully finessed elements.

The brake pedal, which operates 10-piston Brembo calipers at the front, is calibrated in such a way that the Turbo S never lurches or over-reacts to less-than-perfect inputs, even as it is asked to shed colossal speed in almost no space at all. And at the same time, the car's stopping power is genuinely awesome. It's difficult to reach your turn-in point at anything other than the precise speed at which you wanted to, consciously or not.

Then the moderately geared steering, which is precise but never nervous, and, if I had to say, also more feelsome and communicative than that of the regular Carrera, is an exhibition in how you integrate four-wheel steering. Were it not for the car's usefully compact turning circle, you would never guess the rear hubs were swivelling at surprisingly pronounced angles.

The low driving position provided by our car's part-electric, retro-themed seats is also, typically for Porsche, near-perfect for the brief, though taller drivers might want a touch more reach in the manually adjustable column. And possibly a little more support for the upper torso, but we're quibbling here.

So it's all there for you to attempt to get the most out of the Turbo S, though this takes some doing.

Back to top

The eight-speed PDK gearbox isn’t short-geared, but the way this 3.7-litre engine chews through ratios beggars belief. Flat-out from first to fourth is like some sort of cog-swapping movie montage. At one point 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 on the digital speedo. 

You need to experience this a few times to get it out of the system and also acclimatise to the sensation. Do that and you'll find the Turbo S precise and unflappable, at least on the sort of the dry roads we've experienced here. The suspension itself had two modes, though neither tolerates much (or, indeed, anything) in the way of float or heave and there's something quite memorable about the way this car has completely reset itself barely two feet beyond some lump or bump that would have left lesser sports cars quivering far further down the road.   

Evidently, driving the 911 Turbo S fast is an elemental, exhilarating and stomach-dropping experience.

And yet it's also one that can feel slightly detached, and can quickly becomes draining, such is the size and weight of the car when combined with its performance.

This leads us to place where the Turbo S potentially comes unstuck (not literally, of course). Such is the delirious rate at which it accumulates speed that, when you also factor in that 1700kg-plus road-going weight, out of necessity the rigid suspension can brook no compromise. And this total control of the mass means that on anything less than smooth roads the 315-section rear Pirellis start roaring and the ride never settles, sometimes crashing uncomfortably. If you picked this car up in the air, like it were some scale model, I wouldn't be surprised to see the wheels droop barely at all.

Much of the time the Turbo S therefore feels more road-racer than long-legged, multi-purpose uber-911, and if it’s the former you really want, the upcoming 911 GT3 beckons. World-beating pace? These days, it comes at a price.

Back to top

Should I buy one?

No new 911 Turbo is going to struggle to find buyers. This model, which dates back to 1975, has proper lore, and neither is there ever any shortage of people with a pathological need to have the most extreme version of something. This is particularly true for cars, and especially for Porsche, and especially for the 911 Turbo, which is why the Turbo S is strangely now introduced before the regular Turbo.

More objectively, this car has two outstanding strengths and one undeniable weakness. The good – no, great – bit is that as well as being the quickest point-to-point car on the planet, it's also more useable than any rival. Visibility is outstanding (anything less would be a dereliction of duty) and between the front boot and the large rear parcel shelf, there's generous luggage room. It will also do 35mpg on the motorway; it's unusually comfortable; the infotainment works seamlessly, and so on. In short, everything you get with the standard 911.

The second strength is the accessibility of the performance. Truly, the speed has to be experienced to be believed, yet this is also a car you can trust, and in any case there's enough satisfaction to be had elsewhere that the driving experience is far from one-dimensional, being solely dependent on mind-blowing speed. On a damp road, the Turbo S is probably even better to drive than it was on the day of our test, and more absorbing. 

What I can't quite reconcile is the ride quality. Strange, isn't it? Almost any other car with this level of performance would get a free pass for having an overly stiff ride, but since the 996 generation, the Turbo's game has always been that of a more rounded product – not as superifically expressive as some rivals, but genuinely useable every day. And the problem here is that the chassis really can be brutally reactive if you're not working it exceptionally hard.

They say the better a car rides and handles at 150mph, the worse it fares at 50mph. The 911 Turbo S is hardly unbearable at 50mph, but in many ways it feels very much a '190mph' car, for better and worse.  

Porsche 911 Turbo S specification

Where Berkshire, UK Price £155,970 On sale now Engine Flat-six, 3745cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol Power 641bhp at 6750rpm Torque 590lb ft at 2500-4000rpm Gearbox 8-spd dual-clutch auto Kerb weight 1640kg Top speed 205mph 0-62mph 2.7sec Fuel economy 23.0-23.5mpg CO2 271g/km Rivals McLaren GT, Ferrari Roma

Join the debate

Comments
26

28 May 2020

It's a Porsche 911.  With a ridiculous price tag and even more ridiculous performance which will be, frankly, dangerous on public roads.  How long will it be, I wonder, before we start seeing videos of these things smashed to pieces after crashing into a bus in London?

29 May 2020
martin_66 wrote:

It's a Porsche 911.  With a ridiculous price tag and even more ridiculous performance which will be, frankly, dangerous on public roads.  How long will it be, I wonder, before we start seeing videos of these things smashed to pieces after crashing into a bus in London?

Yep.  Crazy money.  Crazy fast, too, but it's still a mass-produced VW.

That's Macca money.  Bespoke, hand-built, carbon fibre, rare, exclusive, sexy Macca money.  'Nuff said.

29 May 2020
jason_recliner wrote:

martin_66 wrote:

It's a Porsche 911.  With a ridiculous price tag and even more ridiculous performance which will be, frankly, dangerous on public roads.  How long will it be, I wonder, before we start seeing videos of these things smashed to pieces after crashing into a bus in London?

Yep.  Crazy money.  Crazy fast, too, but it's still a mass-produced VW.

That's Macca money.  Bespoke, hand-built, carbon fibre, rare, exclusive, sexy Macca money.  'Nuff said.

Mclarens lose money quicker, and aren't reliable enough to date. The fit and finish is crap in places. Mostly though, the dealer network / support is utterly terrible. I speak from having had two in the past (650/720). Awesome to drive and I agree, more wow factor.

4 June 2020
jason_recliner wrote:

martin_66 wrote:

It's a Porsche 911.  With a ridiculous price tag and even more ridiculous performance which will be, frankly, dangerous on public roads.  How long will it be, I wonder, before we start seeing videos of these things smashed to pieces after crashing into a bus in London?

Yep.  Crazy money.  Crazy fast, too, but it's still a mass-produced VW.

That's Macca money.  Bespoke, hand-built, carbon fibre, rare, exclusive, sexy Macca money.  'Nuff said.

 

Macca 570 money? yes.  Macca quality, finish, reliability, model churn, depreciation, dealer coverage and experience - all no.   

No one is going to lose their shirt on a 911 Turbo, assuming they can afford to buy one in first place.

We are looking at the last generation of ICE performance cars. Looking at the 930, 964, 993, 992,  turbo variants and how they have held value before ascending in value over time, it is hard to imagine the 992 iteration being any different.  

I believe Nissan did Porsche a huge favour when. The GTR gave the 911T a bloody nose when it was launched.  whilst the comparisons were in some sense limited and tenuous, it pushed Zuffenhausen engineers t onto get caught napping again, and push ever harder with the 911T, to the point of it seemingly bypassing the Carrera GT and 918 hyper cars.

If they took same view with Boxster/718/cayman over the 992, then that would be the better car still over 992.  Signs are, with the return to flat 6 NA engines for 718 GTs, that they are shifting priorities in response to customers.

But for now the 992 T S looks to be all the ultimate road sports coupe that i would want.   

Porsche are to be congratulated for their persistence.

Heaven knows how they will top the driving experience for the 992 GT3r and RS, then the ultimate performance for the 992 GT2rs - but i am sure that they will.  

 

 

28 May 2020

Of course no one can push this car anywhere near its limits on a public road. That can only happen on a track. So, once a year, you take it out and let it loose on a track. On the other days, you can still enjoy electric acceleration (albeit for only a few seconds), great handling and world class breaking. A journey on a twisting B road, even at legal limits, would still be an experience. Oh, and the pleasure of knowing that you're driving one of the best, if not THE best car in the world has to be worth a lot.

28 May 2020

The author disingenuously omits to mention that the standard suspension will probably ride better than the lower specced example he drove.

28 May 2020

Hello manicm – no doubt it would ride more sweetly on the standard suspension, at least at lower speeds, but I'd be amazed if the difference was night and day, simply because the car is now so unbelievably fast and also heavy enough that it needs very firm suspension to be both safe and effective. That this example uses the sports suspension is also mentioned in the first half; apologies if that wasn't clear – I'd never try to hide anything. We'll try to get a standard-chassis car for the full road-test. 

28 May 2020
Richard Lane wrote:

Hello manicm – no doubt it would ride more sweetly on the standard suspension, at least at lower speeds, but I'd be amazed if the difference was night and day, simply because the car is now so unbelievably fast and also heavy enough that it needs very firm suspension to be both safe and effective. That this example uses the sports suspension is also mentioned in the first half; apologies if that wasn't clear – I'd never try to hide anything. We'll try to get a standard-chassis car for the full road-test. 

 

Ah thanks Richard, apologies if I came across as a bit combative.

1 June 2020

Hi Richard,

I am sure you are aware that Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser at Porsche as an objective wanted to move the 992 Turbo more back to its roots so that it has a more sporty demeanor and feels less remote in its manners, ie more "sporty". Some have said they achieved this wonderfully with this new car. Curious if your observations of the harder ride was in "normal" mode or one of the sports modes?

 

1 June 2020

Hi Richard,

I am sure you are aware that Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser at Porsche as an objective wanted to move the 992 Turbo more back to its roots so that it has a more sporty demeanor and feels less remote in its manners, ie more "sporty". Some have said they achieved this wonderfully with this new car. Curious if your observations of the harder ride was in "normal" mode or one of the sports modes?

 

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Kuga 2020 road test review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    Car review
    SUV practicality, Focus underpinnings, plug-in hybrid tech: is this another...
  • Alpina B3 2020 first drive review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    First Drive
    Bavaria's alternative M3 gets an added injection of performance and...
  • Hyundai i30 N 2020 UK first drive review - hero front
    2 July 2020
    First Drive
    Suspension tweaks aim to make the Hyundai hot hatch a more usable daily...