Car reviews - Porsche - 911 - Turbo S
Bonkers turn of pace, immense brakes, breadth of abilities, accessibility of those abilities, amazing wet mode function
Room for improvement
Sheer width a bit much on rural roads or in town, road noise
Mind-bending pace of Porsche 911 Turbo S eclipsed by exceptional user-friendliness
29 Oct 2020
THE latest 992-generation Porsche 911 Turbo S is more of everything. More power (478kW, up 51kW over the 991.2 equivalent), more torque (800Nm, a 50Nm advantage over the 991.2 Turbo S), more performance (100km/h comes up in just 2.7 seconds, two tenths quicker than before) and more expensive ($473,500 plus on-road costs for the coupe, up $11,600).
If you want to be seen more, there’s always the drop-top Cabriolet version that will leave your bank balance $21,000 lighter than the coupe. And why not? Based on specifications alone, the Turbo S is not for the faint of heart.
But here’s the rub: You can pretty much pootle the most potent non-GT 911 as gently as an entry-level Carrera when you need to. And for all its intimidating performance stats, the Turbo S is far from a being monster that needs taming.
Instead, it’s a hi-tech marvel of engineering and a visceral demonstration of how much sheer bandwidth Porsche has built into the 992 platform. One that can take you to another dimension of jowl-stretching speed when you want it to.
Caution. Please adapt driving style. Switch on Wet mode.
This is not the message you want to see on the dashboard of the car you are driving toward a racetrack. Even less so when said car packs 478kW of power at 6750rpm and 800Nm of torque between 2250 and 4000rpm from a twin-turbo flat-six engine slung way out back.
For the residents of Warwick and its surrounds, home to Morgan Park Raceway where we’re headed, this rain is a blessing for their parched paddocks.
Similarly optimistic about the conditions is our chaperone for the track session, Porsche Track Experience deputy chief instructor Luke Youlden, who points out that Morgan Park’s tricky off-camber turns will help the circuit quickly drain once the rain eases.
If it eases.
“Anyway, it’s a great opportunity to experience wet mode in these cars,” he quips.
We’re secretly glad that Youlden will be setting our pace in the monstrous rear-drive GT2 RS on semi-slick Michelin Sport Cup 2 R tyres. If he can get that thing around waterlogged off-camber corners, our all-wheel-drive 911 Turbo S with Pirelli P Zeros should be just fine.
Then again, he has a Bathurst win under his belt and we don’t. Gulp.
As intimidating as it is on paper – not least the window sticker of $473,500 plus on-road costs – we’re relieved to discover how user-friendly this daddy of 911s is.
Following a swift sighting lap aboard a Cayenne Coupe, we saddle up and complete several laps of Morgan Park in the Turbo S without incident, each time pushing harder and, after rain eases and skies brighten during the morning tea break, harder still.
We can confirm that wet mode is incredibly clever and effective. Recalibrating the stability and traction control systems to step in sooner and more subtly by detecting water spray patterns in the wheel arches, this new-for-992-generation technology seems to genuinely work with – and flatter – the driver to boost both confidence and safety in adverse conditions. It’s epic.
Another standout feature we were not expecting is the sublimely smooth steering and how it delicately communicates what the 255-section, 20-inch front tyres and driven front axle are up to. We thought the Turbo S would bludgeon its way around here but there is this surprising delicate touch about it dynamically.
The eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission is another marvel. We left the shift paddles alone for a lap of the circuit and found it to do an amazing job of swapping cogs when our own brain wanted it to do so. To call it telepathic is no great exaggeration.
Grip and traction are also incredible, with a predictable and quickly rectified breakaway at the front reminding us to apply the 911’s preferred slow in, fast out cornering style in these damp conditions. Apart from this, we admired how balanced and neutral the car felt in general.
With 0-100km/h dispatched in a barely believable 2.7 seconds, 0-200km/h in 8.9s and no qualms about the Turbo S qualifying for membership of the 200mph club, there was never any doubt that this car is fast.
A wet Morgan Park doesn’t provide much scope for full-throttle applications in a car like this but late in the day, once the surface had dried, Youlden took us for a hot lap on which he wound the Turbo S up to the ragged edge, memorably linking 11 to turn 12 in a four-wheel drift before blasting up to more than 220km/h along the short main straight and rearranging our eyeballs with a demonstration of the Porsche’s incredible braking into turn 1.
By this point the Turbo S had completed many laps of Morgan Park with no discernible distress from the brakes or dodgy smells from the engine and just as well because it was time for a two-hour road drive back to base.
Although fatigued from our day at the track, the Turbo S proved a comfy luxury cruiser albeit one that is so wide it requires constant attention to positioning on rural roads or in town and, to nit-pick, suffers from more road roar than we’d prefer. But that’s what you get when 315-section rear rubber meets coarse-chip country bitumen.
We noticed the rear-wheel steering more on public roads than the track, providing a useful extra sense of rotation at turn-in as we traversed the Southern Downs.
And that engine delivered otherworldly overtaking punch when faced with trundling B-doubles as the road straightened out. Just keep an eye on your speed when doing so as the Turbo S will arrive at double the national limit before you know it. Don’t ask how we know this.
In addition to considerable prowess at the track, bump absorption and general body control on the public road is impressive too, while that beautifully engaging steering provides satisfaction at real-world speeds even though there’s little change of approaching its limits of grip out here.
For all the 911 Turbo’s widowmaker reputation and snarling performance potential, we found this latest example easily manageable yet still viscerally thrilling.
It’s one hell of an achievement, which will no doubt be savoured by the few who decide to sink half a million dollars into one. A supercar of similar price and on-paper performance would be far less practical or pleasant to use on a daily basis, necessitating the purchase of a second vehicle.
So that makes the 911 Turbo S something of a bargain, right?
And with a La Niña weather event on the horizon promising to bring plenty of rain, the ingenious wet mode is going to come in really handy.
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Model release date: 1 October 2020
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