► Turbo S ride
► A change in image
► Sharper, faster, better?
There are very few straight roads in the Black Forest, so it’s just as well we’re in a car that relishes bends so much, and has the comfort and composure to sustain that enthusiasm all day, and the grip to ensure we don’t have a sudden career-change to lumberjack.
This is not some reckless thrash on the roads that weave through the wooded vastness of south-west Germany. I’m in the very safe hands of a Porsche test driver who comes here so often that he’s given some of these trees names; and we’re in the new 992 Turbo S.
What’s it look like?
Like most pre-production Porsches, this 911 Turbo S is black with minimal camouflage. There are no visual surprises, but the most significant new elements are the redesigned rear apron-cum-diffusor, which accommodates four trapezoidal tailpipes, plus flush multi-spoke lightweight wheels, bigger and more slippery lateral air intakes, slimmer and wider daytime running lights, restyled bumpers and a more elaborate ground-effect wingwork.
A change of direction
You can see why they might want to keep the 911 Turbo visually low-key, and let its performance speak for itself. It’s struggled with image in the past. Early Turbos were decried as widow-makers that would turn your hair grey between breakfast and lunch, but more recent generations have seemed to target rich ego-trippers, notorious poseurs and chest-wigged best-agers.
This time, Porsche has steered the Turbo in a slightly more back-to-its-roots direction.
Give me some specs
If the external changes are low-key, there’s a little more going on under the skin. But nothing that alters the fundamentals – no hybrid elements of even the mildest sort, for instance.
Here’s Frank-Steffen Walliser, the man behind the 918 project, and more recently in overall charge of the motorsport division, but now the new ‘Mr 911’, replacing the recently retired August Achleitner.
How was the driving experience sharpened up? ‘Little things helped: stiffer joints, harder rubber bushings, tighter attachment points, modified spring and damper calibrations,’ says Walliser. ‘What we definitely refrained from is turning a nicely balanced GT into a hard-edged street fighter.’
The cast-iron sombrero-size brake discs measure 410mm up front and 390mm in the back. The tyres measure 255/35 ZR20 front and 315/30ZR21 rear. Variable-rate, variable-effort steering controls all four wheels, enhancing the manoeuvrability and solidifying the directional stability. And there’s a digital safety net that’s highly configurable.
The rear wing is still fixed, but its surface area has been increased by about 20 per cent for even more downforce and straightline sure-footedness. The nose cone sports bigger air intakes to cool brakes and radiators, but it also incorporates a venturi effect bumper-to-underfloor ramp-lip-exit device which teaches the front end manners at high speed. The newly developed engine is fed a bigger dose of oxygen, rams cooler air straight into the intake manifold, and exhales through a modern-art intestine exhaust system which sounds more Harley than Porsche at idle speed.
What’s it like to be driven in?
Equipped with marginally beefier rear wings and an accordingly wider track, the 992 Turbo S is almost as aggressively-tyred as the GT2 RS. The tiny contact patch deficit is on turf like this easily compensated by the broader calibration of the spring and damper settings. The rear-wheel steering is not quite as slam-dunk radical as in the 690bhp tearaway, and then there is the added benefit of all-wheel drive which demonstrates, apex by apex, a reassuring ´you push, I pull´ effect.
Repeatable on all types of sealed surfaces, it´s the never wavering turn-in grip that completes the 10 out of 10 handling score. A quick flick at the wheel, a stab at the throttle, a moment’s wait followed by a little opposite lock and, voilà, another creamy slide is safely in the can. I just sit there and watch in awe, gaping, wide-eyed, hoping for an encore.
Despite the intrinsic choke effect of the mandatory particulate filter and the absence of an electric booster, the high-revving but low-end-torquey six-cylinder unit obeys throttle orders with the hurried efficiency of an infallible footman. Fuel consumption? We don´t have numbers yet, but on the road a lot depends on how it’s being driven.
Messing with the settings
We go out again with a Porsche works driver for a second exploration round. On a busy Friday afternoon, you need to know where to go to avoid traffic, and Jonas knows. Unlike Walliser, he activates the sports exhaust – a new option for the Turbo, and one which defies the ‘gentleman’s GT’ side of the car’s character. The same goes for the firmer spring and damper setting in Sport Plus and the weight of the steering, which trades some of the lightness and the relatively strong self-centering force for a more progressive and beefier action.
There’s no official verification of this, but according to the Weissach grapevine the hottest 992 can accelerate in 2.7sec from zero to 62mph, which is phenomenally quick for a vehicle that– unlike an EV – does require an extra blink of the eye to summon maximum torque. We would like to add that this Porsche can beam itself from a standstill to 125mph in about 8.5sec. (The non-S version of the Turbo has around 580bhp, we’re told.)
A tiny improvement in acceleration and equally minuscule increase in top speed does not suggest that the new Turbo will turn out to be better than the old one. But the finer points do. What matters more is the how, not merely the how fast.