CAPE TOWN, Western Cape – "Change is easy. Improvement is far more difficult." Google this quote and you’ll find these eight words were spoken by Austrian-German engineer and founder of Porsche, Dr Ferdinand Porsche. However difficult improvement may be, the Stuttgart-based automaker has achieved just that with each generation of the 911 – not changed, improved upon – since its inception in 1964. The same applies to the Turbo. Now in its eighth generation, has Porsche once again managed to further refine the formula of its flagship super sportscar?
True to the design language so iconic of the 911, the 992-generation 911 Turbo’s sculpted bodywork is a product of evolution rather than revolution. However understated the flagship 911 may look, it’s unmistakably a Turbo. In true Turbo fashion, the 992 iteration’s roofline extends towards a large rear wing, which raises when the Sport Plus driving mode is activated or when pressing a touch button on the dashboard-sited display. In addition to Sport Plus, driver settings include Normal, Sport, Individual and Wet, the latter for when conditions aren’t very favourable. Sited below the distinctive rear wing is the most powerful flat-six engine currently produced by Porsche.
Porsche has, however, focused on not only increasing power and torque and how the outputs are delivered, but on throttle response, meeting ever-stringent emissions regulations and the free-revving nature of the twin-turbocharged engine. The 3,8-litre unit has been fitted with a pair of larger variable turbine geometry (VTG) turbochargers. The symmetrically arranged turbos are fed air via a redesigned intake arrangement and spool up in opposite directions, directing air to a revised and larger charge air-cooling system.
The 911 Turbo S’s horizontally opposed six-cylinder heart churns out 478 kW and 800 N.m, which is directed to all four corners via an upgraded version (to handle the Turbo S’s vast outputs) of Porsche’s eight-speed PDK. Whereas the 991.2 Turbo S’s total peak torque was available only in overboost, the 992’s is on tap as soon as the rev needle reaches the 2 500 r/min marker.
The gear ratios have been revised, with the first and last having been made shorter and longer, respectively. Now with a longer final-drive ratio, engine speed is reduced when a higher gear is selected and, as a result, fuel consumption is improved. Owing to the shorter first ratio, the eight-speeder fires through the gears from standstill in an almost unnoticeable fashion. The result: near physics-defying acceleration.
Now, about that number plate: "27 2 100 GP". Of course, as punctuation marks aren’t allowed on number plates, the “27” signifies “2,7”, the number of seconds, Porsche says, the 911 Turbo S takes to reach three figures from zero. Achieving Porsche’s claimed time seems entirely possible.
Turn the steering wheel-mounted dial to Sport Plus. The front spoiler and rear wing are deployed for optimal air flow and downforce. Depress the brake pedal and throttle. The Turbo S’s wide rear haunches squat on the sun-baked black top as the rev needle climbs on the analogue tachometer. “Launch Control Activated” is displayed on the adjacent instrument screen. Prepare for lift off (no, really; in the few seconds you have before setting off, it’s best to brace your neck against the headrest). Release the brake pedal...
By the time the (standard) Sport Chrono package’s clock needle has moved three ticks you’re travelling at 100 km/h and soon afterwards (if you’re fortunate enough to live near the autobahn, that is) near the 330 km/h top speed.
Interestingly, after doing a bit of research on CARmag.co.za, I found that when we finally had the opportunity to test the 3,3-litre Turbo in January 1982, the 930 iteration was the fastest-accelerating car we tested in the 1980s, with a 0-100 km/h time of 6,1 seconds. For the Nineties, the title once again belonged to a Turbo, with the 993 Turbo (January 1996) completing the obligatory sprint in 4,63 seconds. Will the title return to the Turbo when we put the S-badged 992 variant through its paces in a comprehensive road test? Be sure to grab a copy of the January 2021 performance issue when it hits the shelves on 14 December to find out whether it has managed to dethrone the Lamborghini Huracán Evo LP640-4.
In terms of braking capability, the Porsche seems to rein in speed quicker still. As standard, the Turbo S is fitted with 10-piston (a first on a 911) front and four-piston rear carbon-ceramic composite discs, measuring 420 mm and 390 mm, respectively. The large-diameter discs work in conjunction with Porsche’s adaptive aerodynamics (PAA) system to bring the Porsche to a rapid halt. Featuring a new airbrake function, PAA automatically deploys the rear wing and front spoiler under hard deceleration.
It’s not only in straight-line performance where the Porsche excels; it’s how the traction management system (PTM) and 20-inch fore and 21-inch aft alloy wheels, wrapped in 255/35 and 315/30 Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport rubber, manage to keep the 1 640 kg Porsche planted when cornering. Retuned, the Turbo S’s PTM setup is capable of sending 500 N.m to the front axle for optimal traction. Body lean is all but non-existent. The steering is precise yet light enough for piloting the Porsche within city limits or when exchanging the concrete confines for the open road, where it takes on the role of comfortable grand tourer. Owing to the Turbo’s revised active suspension (PASM), the setup continually adjusts to the road conditions. The flagship 911 performs this balancing act – of being a straight-line missile, a corner carver, a long-distance kilometre eater and a seven-day super sportscar – to a standing ovation.
The leather-tailored cabin is traditional 992 911 fare, but features design elements which hark back to the original 930 Turbo. It looks good, although some might argue it lacks the flair provided by that of other supercars. Perceived interior craftmanship is excellent. It’s a comfortable place to be sat in; the driving position is inch perfect and is a cinch to dial in thanks to the 18-way adjustable sports seats.
Adding to its everyday usability, the Porsche measures only 1 900 mm wide; it’s a trouble-free task to park, especially with the standard rear-view camera. And there are four seats, the rear items fitted with Isofix child-seat anchorages. Apple CarPlay screen mirroring (activated via USB) and Bluetooth relay music via a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound system. Dual-zone climate control enhances the interior environment. Sited below the infotainment display is an array of buttons, one of which activates this press unit’s optional sports exhaust setup, designated by the twin oval tailpipes as opposed to the standard unit’s four trapezoidal outlets.
Unveiled a decade after the naturally aspirated Neunelfer, the original 930 Turbo was met with great acclaim. And since this fabled moniker adorned Porsches, Zuffenhausen has continually honed the formula of its flagship super sportscar. The 992-generation 911 Turbo S is no exception. However difficult improvement may be, Porsche has once again managed to improve upon the Turbo formula; not changed – improved. Meticulously.
FAST FACTSModel: Porsche 911 Turbo S PDK
Price: R3 849 000
Engine: 3,8-litre, flat-six, twinturbo-petrol
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch
Power: 478 kW @ 6 750 r/min
Torque: 800 N.m @ 2 500-4 000 r/min
0-100 km/h: 2,70 seconds
Top speed: 330 km/h
Fuel consumption: 11,1 L/100 km
CO2: 254 g/km
Maintenance plan: 3-year/100 000 km