Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) review

By Ben Pulman 11 May 2010

By Ben Pulman

11 May 2010

It’s a numbers game with the new Porsche 911 Turbo S. For an extra £17,309 (or £17,324 in you opt for the convertible) you get an extra 30bhp, 37lb ft and lots of standard items that would otherwise be extra on the ‘regular’ 493bhp Turbo.

S stands for Sport and Porsche’s marketing team would have you believe this new S model is the most sporting 911 Turbo variant yet, with everything from ceramic brakes, a torque vectoring system and active engine mounts as standard, though you can’t have a manual gearbox. All in – and until the new GT2 arrives later this year – it’s the most expensive 911 you can buy: £123,263 for the coupe (tested here) and £130,791 for the cabriolet.

And despite the hefty price, as 90% of Turbos are sold with the PDK ‘box, Porsche expects 70-80% of customers to cough up the extra for the S. Read on for CAR’s review of the new Porsche 911 Turbo S.

What puts the S in the Porsche 911 Turbo S?

The direct-injection, twin-turbo 3.8-litre flat six is essentially unchanged, but the gains come courtesy of revised intake valve timing, a new carbon airbox and a boost in turbo pressure to 1.2bar. Power goes up from 493bhp at 6000rpm to 523bhp at 6250-6750rpm, the same headline figure as the Mk1 997 GT2. The torque peak is the same as a regular Turbo equipped with the optional Sport Chrono overboost function, but the S has the full 516lb ft whenever you like it, rather than needing a Sport button to be pressed to access the extra oomph. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions remain unchanged

Porsche’s PDK gearbox is standard, as is the Sport Chrono Pack, which includes a launch control function. And with the extra grunt from the engine, all three elements combine to send the Turbo S to 62mph in 3.3 seconds (3.6 for a regular Turbo, 3.4 for one with the Sport Chrono Pack). More impressive is the 0-124mph time, which drops from 11.6 to 10.8 seconds.

And just how does it feel when you launch a Porsche 911 Turbo S to 124mph in 10.8 seconds?

It’s addictive, but oh so simple. Come to halt, press the Sport Plus button, put your left foot firmly on the brake, then stamp the other on the accelerator. The electronics build the revs up, at which point you side step the brake and hold on. There’s a momentary pause while the wheelspin is dealt with (we drove the Turbo S on a very wet day in Stuttgart) and then you’re pinned into your seat as the PDK ‘box bangs through its gears and hurls you down the road.

Unfortunately there’s no GT3-style flat-six song to accompany your exploits, but instead you get an angry gargling and whooshing noise from over your shoulder, mixed with a muted pschttt when you lift off.

But although the Turbo S intimidates on paper, driving it around town or on the autobahn is easy. In the city it’s still a little nimble 911 that’s easy to place in traffic, and the PDK’ box means you haven’t got to deal with the manual Turbo’s heavy clutch and stiff shift. Leave the urban areas behind, find a decent bit of derestricted motorway and suddenly you’re doing silly speeds. Barely 15 minutes after climbing into the Turbo S I’d set my own public road PB of 170mph, and with absolute ease. It’s probably best you don’t have a Turbo S in the UK – you’ll lose your licence in the first week of ownership. 

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Porsche 911 Turbo S first drive review

So it’s a little bit faster, but is 30bhp really worth an extra £20k?

Extra power isn’t all you get. Most 911 Turbo buyers end up spending quite a lot on the options list, so for them the extra kit on the S (plus the supposed exclusivity) might make it seem like good value – spec a Turbo with the same gear and it’ll cost pretty much the same.

As standard the Turbo S has Porsche’s 19-inch ‘RS Spyder’ wheels (£2338 otherwise), that PDK ‘box (£2607), adaptive seats (£674, though really that’s Porsche’s way of saying they have extra adjustment  - these aren’t active items with bolsters that inflate in the corners), cornering lights (£468) and ceramic brakes (an outrageous £5801 and not needed as we’ve never really found Porsche’s stoppers wanting). There’s also PTV, Porsche’s torque vectoring system that brakes the appropriate inside rear wheel (£872) and the Sport Chrono Pack with active engine mounts (usually £2686, but actually £3027 in combination with PDK as you get Launch Control too).

Of course, a rear wiper is still extra, but you soon forget about that when you get on with driving the Turbo S. There are other cars out there with a crisper throttle response, but not a lot with the any-gear, any-speed go of the Turbo S. And just when you think you’re going pretty damn fast, you find there’s still the final thousand rpm to go where the power gains are actually made.

And thankfully, if you press the Sport or Sport Plus button, you can still switch the dampers back to their regular setting – the Sport set-up is too stiff, even for relatively smooth German roads.

Verdict

Is the new Turbo S really worth over £120k? Not really. The interior (though well built and better than ever) can be had in a £50k Cayman, a regular Turbo will feel just as quick, a Carrera S is really all you actually need, and a GT3 will ultimately prove the more satisfying drive – and it’s nearly £25k cheaper. As impressive as all the power is, it dominates the experience and thus you lose some of the crucial interactivity that 911s are most famous for.

The Turbo is essentially a GT car, but one that’s small and dynamic and fast enough to outrun most supercars so it sits awkwardly when comparisons are made. Either you’ll love its pace and usability wrapped up in such a small package, or see it as common and cramped (when compared to a DB9 and Conti) and lacking supercar appeal (an R8 knocks it dead). Good, but odd.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the new Porsche 911 Turbo S

Statistics

How much? £123,263
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3800cc 24v flat six, 523bhp @ 6000rpm, 516lb ft @ 2100-4250rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, four-wheel drive
Performance: 3.3sec 0-62mph, 196mph, 24.8mpg, 268g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1585kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4450/1852/1300

Ratings

Handling 4 out of 5
Performance 5 out of 5
Usability 4 out of 5
Feelgood factor 4 out of 5
CAR's Rating 4 out of 5

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  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
  • Porsche 911 Turbo S (2010) CAR review
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