Porsche 911 Turbo review – Telegraph

24 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Porsche 911 Turbo review – Telegraph
Porsche 911

The new, £118,000 Porsche 911 Turbo is one of the fastest cars in the world.

The three posters you needed when I was a teenager were: the Scottish national rugby team, that tennis girl with one hand on her bum and the back view of a Porsche 911 Turbo with that ludicrous whale-tail spoiler.

Icon? You bet. It has been for almost 40 years now. Easy to drive? Erm, next.

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Photos foreshorten the car, but if you stand alongside, it looks longer, lower and sleeker than ever. The bodywork is amped up with larger air intakes front and rear, and moveable aerodynamics, not just the rear wing, which alters its angle of incidence and height, but also a front air dam deployed in stages above 75mph. There’s also a “Performance” maximum downforce mode, where at 186mph, the car generates almost 300lbs of downforce; a bit like a fat bloke sitting on the roof.

Aluminium and steel composite construction helps reduce the weight of the body in white by 57lb, but the extra equipment takes that figure back to where it started for the standard Turbo at 1.57 tons and 22lbs heavier for the Turbo S. The Turbo weighs almost 500lb more than a standard non-turbo Carrera S.

The driveline has been revved up with new software control of the boost, stronger pistons, new fuel injectors and the retention of twin Borg Warner Variable Geometry Turbochargers (VGT) on the 3.8-litre flat-six.

VGTs have vanes which effectively alter the size of the turbocharger housing to give a quicker response with better part-throttle efficiency. They are common on diesel engines, but petrol engines have exhaust gases approximately 100C hotter, which means lots of expensive materials. The 911 Turbo is the only VGT-equipped turbo petrol passenger car. I once asked Wolfgang Hatz, then in charge of Porsche and Volkswagen engine development whether the VGT technology could eventually be introduced across other cheaper models in the VW stable. “Are you crazy,” he said. “Have you any idea how much they cost?”

So that might explain why the turbo is such a lot of money compared with the £73,413 standard 911 Carrera; £118,349 for the 513bhp Turbo model and £140,852 for the 552bhp Turbo S.

Aside from the extra power, the S gets a lot of other bits which add up to slightly more than the £22,503 price difference. But do you want them all? As standard the Turbo comes with four-wheel drive, with a new electro-hydraulic multi-plate clutch and rear-wheel steering for stability at speed and ease of parking. There’s no manual option and the seven-speed twin-clutch PDK gearbox is standard.

The £3,092 Sport Chrono/Sport Pack includes dynamic engine mounts, which lock the driveline to the chassis as you change direction, the stopwatch with its pleasingly precise movement in the middle of the dashboard, and launch control. Porsche’s anti-roll, dynamic control system is £2,185, carbon ceramic brakes are £6,248, the S-type wheels £2,387 and LED headlamps are £1,449. Some rich folk will want everything and that’s fine, but it should be said that a Porsche 911 of any stripe holds it value like few other supercars and its whole life costs are much lower as a result.

The cabin is a huge improvement over the old 997, which still resembled an explosion at the dashboard factory. The new facia is still based on Porsche’s traditional five-dial binnacle layout but there’s more logic and refinement even if some of the functions remain hidden. The centre console is the biggest improvement, with an array of slightly confusing pushbuttons and a clear and bright screen for the lacklustre satnav.

There’s not much space around the driver and the cup holders are completely over engineered. The absurdly impractical rear seats have fold-down backs to give a useful luggage space and there’s a small space under the bonnet. Standard seats have electronic adjustment, are spacious and seem more comfortable than the gussied up perches in the S model.

Fast? Searingly. Your head swims under full-power acceleration you never get used to it.

There’s little turbo lag and the performance is at its most shocking at the middle of the rev counter, where you might see something on the horizon and swoosh, you’re there and past. The only cars you’ll fail to overtake would be a convoy of 911 Turbos. It’s the kind of shockingly quick car, which, if you got caught approaching its capabilities on a public road, you’d do serious time.

Yet unlike most of its rivals (including cars in the Porsche catalogue), it is refined at low speeds with only a slight harshness betraying its sprinter’s abilities. Click out the sport buttons and the ride is not bad at all.

Its cornering capabilities are equally bottomless. It carves through turns like a FairbairnSykes fighting knife through an enemy sentry’s greatcoat. Initial understeer is electronically mitigated into neutral steer, electronic steering loads up uniformly in the turns and the optional anti-roll system keeps the body flat, so when the tyres do slide, you are really on it.

The result is a slightly artificial sensation and while absolute purists will mourn the capability of using the Turbo’s weight transfer to speed its way into corners, that could equally result in unplanned visits to the scenery.

Certainly the most capable, fastest and safest 911 Turbo ever, there’s just a slight concern about what it’s for. The old model existed to go very fast in a straight line and frighten everyone in corners. This one does the former and not the latter, its 15-gallon tank requires a refill every 100 miles or so and it feels too grown up to be an expensive toy.

Has Porsche engineered out the Turbo’s once scary appeal? I do wonder.

Porsche 911 Turbo

Tested: 3,800cc six-cylinder, twin-turbocharged petrol engine, seven-speed, double-clutch semi-automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

Price/on sale: £118,349/Now

Power/torque: 513bhp @ 6,000rpm/487lb ft @ 1,950rpm with 523lb ft overboost with Sport Chrono pack.

Top speed: 196mph

Porsche 911

Acceleration: 0-62mph 3.4sec, 3.2sec with Sport Plus

Fuel economy: 21.4mpg/29.1mpg (EU Urban/Combined)

CO2 emissions: 227g/km

VED band: L (£840 for the first year, £475 thereafter)

Verdict: Amazingly quick, but a little antiseptic in its delivery. Beautifully made with a high quality cabin and comfy seats. Forget the Turbo S, the standard Turbo is the one to have

Telegraph rating: Four out of five stars

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Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 . from £106,605

Oft overlooked bruiser from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Weighs just 1.5 tons and 6.2-litre motorsports V8 gives 647bhp, 205mph, 0-62mph in 3.6sec and 18.8mpg. Never understated, but a great sports car.

Nissan GT-R . from £76,610

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