The Porsche 911 Turbo S has, for a long time, been considered probably the best everyday supercar money can buy, so the new 992 generation has some pretty big boots to fill. The big question now is with the supercar market having more choice than ever and more tech and varied drivetrains on offer, how does the Porsche compare against the likes of the Audi R8 V10 and Aston Martin Vantage?
First off, no matter what the competition throws at it, it’s still a 911, and to me, that holds a lot of value. Over the years the 911 may have got bigger, heavier and more expensive but the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it attitude” towards the styling has kept this now 57-year-old model name instantly recognisable. It also holds a certain reputation the nearly every other sports car maker can only dream of. The reputation for drivability, usability, reliability – although the Audi R8 V10 and Mercedes AMG GT-S are close on its tail there.
Inside the car it’s all very “Porsche” – things are just where you would expect them to be. It has a steering wheel with some paddles mounted to the back of it, a few buttons and a small dial to switch driver modes. It also has stalks for indicators and wipers. Some dials to show you your speed and some other useful information. Do you see where I’m going here? Every manufacturer at the moment seems hell-bent on reinventing the cockpit these days – putting indicator buttons on the steering wheel, replacing all the dials with one big screen, replacing the gear selector with buttons and removing anything from the centre console that can actually be pushed and pressed… And Porsche have also done this in some aspects, but they’ve still kept the sensible and important stuff right where it should be. Where you intuitively go when you get in. You even have to turn a key to start the car (albeit a fake key that is permanently mounted next to the steering wheel) but that’s one of those great things about starting up a car that has all but disappeared from nearly all cars in recent years.
It’s also very comfortable inside. The seats aren’t like armchairs that weigh as much as the rest of the car, but they also aren’t wafer-thin pieces of carbon fibre. You can sit in here for a long time, cover many miles and still feel your backside at the end of your journey. There’s also room for a passenger and some very small rear occupants (or luggage). As adverse as I seem to be to change in modern cars, I do like the wider infotainment screen and even though it takes some getting used to, the new gnarled gear knob-thing is actually very nice and minimalist.
So far it all seems very familiar, and as pleasant and refreshing as it all is, this is still a very expensive car – so if it doesn’t have a loud and shouty interior, where does all that money go? Well, the new 992 Turbo S has a new 3.7-litre twin-turbo flat-6 engine mounted in the back that produces a staggering 641bhp and 800Nm of torque. All this power is then managed by a new 8-speed PDK gearbox that can move the car from 0-62mph in a mind-melting 2.7 seconds. If that doesn’t seem impressive enough, the new 992 Turbo S will then keep accelerating all the way to 205mph.
It’s not just in a straight line where the 911 impresses, either. With a new wider front track and some tweaking of the rear-axle steering joint with some very wide rubber in all four corners, there’s plenty of grip and feel as you navigate your way through the turns. Does it feel as light and agile as a GT3? No, but does it give you all the confidence you would ever need to push a car this heavy through the bends? Absolutely.
Needless to say, the 911 Turbo S is still a class leader when it comes to power and speed, but its real party piece is when you slow things down and start to use the car for the more mundane things. The trip to the local shop, the commute to the office or inevitable slow traffic on the drive down to the coast. In these situations, the Turbo S is as comfortable and as usable as any other road car. Driving a supercar can be a daunting thing at times – Will the front scrape? Is it too wide for that gap? Why can’t I see anything out the back? Do the people around me think I’m a bit of a plum? There’s none of that. To the untrained eye, the Turbo S is as understated as they come. There are now 4-door diesel saloons with more shouty “look at me” styling than this. It’s just so civilised, too. The PDCC suspension set-up isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely more supple on the normal dives than that of an R8.
The thing I like the most about the Porsche 911 is the variety of choice available to the buyer, and why for me, it’s such a great car. You can have a traditional, simple driver’s car in the form of the Carrera, or you can have a hardcore balls-to-the-wall track weapon with a GT3 RS, but you can also have the all-rounder. The Turbo S is the Omega Seamaster of sports cars. It can hold its own in any fight.
The 911 Turbo S starts at £160,610 on the road, but like everything these days, that number will no doubt increase a fair bit when you’ve added all those important extras you want. It sounds like a lot of money, and don’t get me wrong, it is – it’s far more than I could ever afford and the same for the vast majority of the population. However, that also seems like a bit of a bargain to me – and here’s my reasoning; The Audi R8 V10 is a mid-engined 2-seater which means the only storage space you have is in the “frunk” so activities such as golf are out of the question unless you want to travel alone everywhere or have another vehicle. And the same goes for a lot of cars in this price bracket. Now the AMG GTS and Aston Martin Vantage are both front-engined and therefore have a boot to put your clubs, but their also not as fast as the Turbo S and are rear-wheel-drive so you can’t drive them in the winter but the Turbo S is all-wheel-drive – so it can be driven all year round. And it will get you there faster. And no one will think you’re just showing off how well you’ve done. So in summary, the Porsche 911 Turbo S is still the ultimate all-rounder. Fast as ever, but still wonderfully understated and usable.