2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S at a glance
- Handling ★★★★☆
- Comfort ★★★☆☆
- Performance ★★★★★
- Design ★★★★☆
- Interior ★★★★☆
- Practicality ★★★★☆
- Costs ★★★★☆
THERE’S A reason the Porsche 911 Turbo is nicknamed the Widowmaker. It stares down other sports cars, pushes in front at queues and leaves rivals standing at traffic lights. It thinks nothing of roughing up delicate Ferraris, tearing past them with a hissing rush of air from its turbochargers.
It earned its reputation not long after it was unveiled in 1974. Back then, it was rear-wheel drive only and didn’t suffer fools gladly. Driving it at speed was no mean feat. One miscalculation could send you into a spin. You had either to know what you were doing, or to enjoy living on the edge, or both. Steve McQueen bought one in 1976, with a few bespoke modifications including a switch that killed the rear lights and darkened the numberplate — handy when you’ve just shot past a Los Angeles police cruiser at night.
There’s no such switch on the latest generation of 911 Turbo. But then, it probably doesn’t need one — even a police helicopter would struggle to keep up.
It accelerates to 62mph faster than a La Ferrari, McLaren P1 or Porsche’s own 918 Spyder hypercar – cars that cost five times as much
On a dusty road in South Africa, where Porsche took us to show off the capabilities of the latest Turbo S model — which officially does 0 to 62mph in 2.9 seconds — we recorded 2.6 seconds. And that was at an altitude of 5,000ft where the air is thin and turbochargers have to work harder to pump oxygen into the cylinders. On tarmac at lower altitude it might have got down to 2.5 or 2.4 seconds. That’s faster than a Ferrari LaFerrari. Faster than a McLaren P1. And faster even than Porsche’s own 918 Spyder hybrid hypercar — all of which cost about five times as much. And you can put the children in the back seats.
This car seems capable of speeds that could get you to your destination before you left. Four-wheel drive ensures that there’s no slip or drama, and the 3.8-litre flat-six twin-turbo engine punts you up the road as if you’ve just been rear-ended by a bullet train. Admittedly, the exhaust note doesn’t sound much — a bit like a jet engine heard through a dividing wall — but the S grips the road as if magnetised, and shrugs off corners like Sepp Blatter avoiding awkward questions. That’s partly thanks to the new electromechanical four-wheel- drive system, which carefully apportions torque to where you need it. It’s not exactly playful, but it makes you feel a much better driver than you actually are.
The car is also comfortable, not too showy and more practical than you might expect — with the usual peerless 911 ergonomics inside the cabin. Plus it’s got a decent boot in the nose.
Among the new features are a touchscreen infotainment system, LED headlamps and louvres and scoops in the body that mark the car out as the latest Turbo S on the block. You also get a full suite of electromechanical improvements, from a “centrifugal pendulum” in the flywheel that allows the engine to potter along ridiculously low in the rev range without shuddering as if it’s running out of fuel, to a new steering wheel with a rotary mode selector that allows drivers to change between Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual modes.
And yet. . . and yet the 911 Turbo S is a car that seems a little bit of a numbers machine, refined and honed to an astonishing degree and somehow a little emotionally economical. It’s endlessly impressive and continues to live in a niche that no other car comes close to. But there’s no escaping the feeling that an £85,857 Porsche 911 Carrera S might be more satisfying, more of the time, just because it does the job as well for less.
Mind you, that one time you get the opportunity to show a million-pound hypercar a clean pair of heels from the lights, four-up with a smattering of luggage, might make you think that the extra £60,000 was money well spent.
2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S PDK specifications
- PRICE: £145,773
- ENGINE: 3800cc, 6 cyl, twin turbo, petrol
- POWER: 572bhp @ 6750rpm
- TORQUE: 553 lb ft @ 2250rpm
- TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
- ACCELERATION: 0-60mph: 2.9sec
- TOP SPEED: 205mph
- FUEL: 31mpg
- CO2: 212g/km
- ROAD TAX BAND: K (£640 for first year; £290 thereafter)
- RELEASE DATE: On sale now