What is it?
Porsche and its turbochargers have been a bit of a contentious subject of late, but we’ll leave that alone here. Whatever your standpoint, you’ll know that since 1975 it’s been possible to buy a 911 with forced induction. Ever since then, the Turbo has occupied the 911 range’s top spot.
And although there are more turbocharged 911s about the place these days, the big-T Turbo remains the pinnacle 911, and this S model is the cherry on top of that.
The Turbo S has matured to produce some insane performance figures over the years. To give you an idea, Porsche’s 1975 3.0 930 Turbo produced 257bhp and achieved 0-62mph in 5.5sec. Today’s S puts out 572bhp and rips to 62mph from rest in just 2.9sec.
For 2016, the Turbo’s 3.8-litre flat six receives modified inlet ports in its cylinder heads, new injection nozzles and a higher fuel pressure, all to help it produce 20bhp more than it did before. The S then gets new turbochargers to give it a further 40bhp power hike over the ‘standard’ Turbo.
The Turbo S has a price to go with its high-ranking status, too: more than £145,000 before options. It’s a price that puts it in the same league as the similarly savage McLaren 570S and Audi R8, even if the way the three cars go about their business is quite different.
What’s it like?
Little can prepare you for a 911 Turbo S’s launch control in full swing. It’s computer-game easy to do, and sitting there with its flat six howling and turbos spooling knowing a simple twitch of the left foot will unleashed hypercar-worrying performance is one thing, but actually experiencing it from the driver’s seat is quite another.
There’s a devastating amount of traction at the rear wheels as the weight of the engine squats down and fires the Turbo S forward with brutal force. Turbo lag has been further reduced during spirited driving in its Sport modes, too, because during short periods off the throttle its turbochargers’ charge is maintained more effectively than before, meaning the engine’s response is more instant when jumping back on the gas.
A new 918-inspired rotary dial on the steering wheel allows you to choose between four driving modes, while at the centre of the dial is a Sport Response button. Press this and, regardless of what drive mode you are in, you get 20 seconds of maximum response from the engine and gearbox for overtaking. This button is also the most vivid expression of the Turbo S’s Jekyll and Hyde characteristics, instantly transforming it from serene cruiser to frothing-mouthed Mad Hatter.
Porsche’s faithful PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox remains standard fit and brilliantly executed. Sport mode switched off and left to do its own thing it’s keen to change up and rely on the Turbo’s large torque reserves, while sharpened up in racier driving modes it reacts staggeringly quickly to manual paddle pulls.
Standard, too, is all-wheel drive (albeit rear-biased), Porsche’s PASM adjustable suspension and PDCC chassis control system, and the Turbo S benefits from standard ceramic-composite brakes. It all adds up to an immensely capable car on both road and track, although not necessarily the most invigorating.
That sort of depends how you like things. The Turbo S is, as we’ve covered, ballistic missile-quick, but it also steers with typically delicious Porsche-like precision, rides firmly but compliantly and stays nicely refined at all speeds if that’s what you want. In short, it plays the comfortable cruiser and stable, assured soggy B-road blaster extremely well in equal measure.
However, its monumental grip doesn’t allow for quite the same rear-drive adjustability that the best Porsches possess and its performance is so great that you very rarely get to enjoy its full capabilities on the road. Even so, for the many 911 Turbo buyers who use their cars daily in all weathers, that’ll be just fine.
Just fine, too, will be the Turbo’s interior, which is every bit as high quality as that of any other 911 and mildly practical, too, with its two small rear seats. The front seats provide brilliant lateral support but are also comfortable on a long stint, while Porsche’s latest PCM infotainment system was a much-needed addition that works very well in practice.
Should I buy one?
Porsche has once again created a staggeringly complete car in the Turbo S. It goes, stops and corners with amazing capability and goads you to try harder to catch it out – which is extremely hard to do. It manages to be fast, agile, comfortable and pleasingly luxurious, which is quite a feat. It truly is a svelte supercar that can be used every day – even more so than a 570S, and definitely more so than an R8.
Whether you save yourself nearly £19,000 and stick with the lesser Turbo is down to personal choice, because both are stupidly fast cars. However, we’d wager that most will spend the extra, given the sort of money we’re talking about and the genuine dynamic enhancements from which you’ll benefit.
Is it the purest driver’s car that Porsche makes? No, probably not. It’s a marvellous point-and-shoot rocketship without quite the involvement of Porsche’s own rear-driven heroes or McLaren’s efforts, but it would be ludicrous to deny that the Turbo S isn’t anything other than a breathtaking experience in most other respects.