Porsche 911 Turbo S
Price | £145,773
0-62mph | 2.9 secs
Top speed | 205mph
CO2 g/km | 212g/km
Mpg combined | 31.0mpg
Design | ★★★☆☆
Performance | ★★★★★
Practicality | ★★★★
Value for money | ★★☆☆☆
Remember when Porsches were known for being widowmakers? In the 80s, people feared they’d spin into a hedge backwards if they so much as sat down in one. Well, times have changed and they’re everywhere now, especially on the streets of the City.
Overnight it seems, the same 911 Turbo that used to terrify everyone has turned into the people’s supercar, the frightening fiend turned faithful friend. And I was invited to Kyalami, South Africa, to hoof around in a new one at 140mph behind a racing driver in a hurry on a soaking wet, fast and unfamiliar racetrack.
F1 World Champion Damon Hill notoriously spun out of second place in his first race with Williams on this track, so if any circuit was going to test the 911 Turbo’s tendency to throw me expensively into the tyres, it was this. Everything was in one piece by the end, though – even my nerves.
My hosts were keen for me to test drive the revised 911 range (you’ll undoubtedly call it 911-2, if you’re a person who pronounces Porsche with two syllables) on the fast, open roads so abundant in this part of the world. Why? Because they’ve jolly well gone and made the thing faster, haven’t they?
The 520hp Turbo was already quick and the even more powerful 560hp Turbo S is quicker still: 540hp for the Turbo, 580hp for the Turbo S. Porsche put me in the Turbo S for the full effect, told me it costs at least £145,773 in the UK, and sent me on my way.
We wrote about the new turbocharged entry-level 911 Carreras a few months ago and, while they’re fast and effective, they’re not a patch on the actual Turbos. If the Turbo is the daddy, then the Turbo S is your mum’s cool friend who comes round when your dad’s not home. Ferrari boasts about its unobtainable LaFerrari doing 0-62mph in less than 3.0 seconds, yet the official time for the 911 Turbo S is 2.9 seconds – and the Porsche engineers will freely admit that’s a worst-case scenario. I strapped on some timing gear to test the Turbo S acceleration on a deserted South African road and I can confirm four runs in a row; each 2.6 seconds. No special conditions, nothing.
Porsche has even added a button to maximise this sportiness. It’s in the middle of a rotary dial on the steering wheel that lets you choose how sporty you want this powerful Porsche to be. Pressing it puts the Turbo S into maximum-attack mode for 20 seconds. It’s like an adrenaline shot in the arm and so addictive it should be illegal.
So it’s monstrously, ridiculously potent. But you’d never know it. The sort of people who call it a Por–shah will notice the wider rear arches, the steamroller tyres, the chrome and fancy bits that you expect if you’re spending £146k on a car. No one else will even notice a difference, though, and this is all part of the magic of the 911 Turbo.
For all the sporting GT3 and new 911 R’s obvious, heart-on-sleeve appeal, the 911 Turbo S is the true aficionado’s Porsche. It’s the one with the broadest range of abilities, the most far-reaching breadth of comfort, precision and potency, but importantly, the least tendency to shout about it.
Ferry Porsche dictated the original 911 should be double-take fast, but comfortable, have four seats, and be practical enough for everyday use. When the original designer ignored this, he got his son Ferdinand to re-design the concept into the car we know today.
Right now, the 911 Turbo S is the closest the brand has ever come to realising the Porsche family’s impossibly high ideals, creating a near-perfect balance between performance and practicality.
Richard Aucock works for motoringresearch.com