Though expensive, the 911 Turbo has always been a halo car for Porsche and this version could be the best one ever, writes Shapur Kotwal
It takes much more than just raw data to form a good story. But, in the case of the thoroughly updated 911 Turbo, it's fair to make an exception. The reason: there's just no better way to fully understand the colossal thrust this car generates as it is catapulted off the line using F1-inspired launch control. The reason for this propulsion is the new direct injection turbocharged flat six which is crucially mated to one of Porsche's new twin-clutch gearboxes. Porsche's Doppelkupplung or PDK gearbox reduces shift times and keeps loss of momentum to a strict minimum.
Using the launch control of the new 911 Turbo requires you to select Sport Plus mode, squeeze the brake pedal down hard with your left foot and completely depress the throttle with your right. The words ‘Launch control' that now light up on the steering wheel prepare you for the launch. At this time, the motor is screaming wildly as it spins at 5000rpm, causing the rear of the car to squat like a big cat ready to pounce.
And when Porsche says launch, it means launch! As soon as you get off the brake, the system waits a fraction for turbo boost to build up to 0.5 bar and then it lets go the clutch. The acceleration is not dissimilar to being let off a giant bowstring, the accelerative forces ramping up rapidly with a rubber-band-like effect that gets stronger and stronger.
Zero to 40kph comes up in a ridiculous 1.1 seconds. In two seconds and just 19 metres you are doing 70kph and 0-100kph is dispatched in a very superbike-like 3.2 seconds!
The manner in which the 911 Turbo goes about making this speed is a bit different from what you expect. It's not seamless or smooth, the car shooting forward in a succession of tightly packed bursts of power. As the turbo motor dumps approximately 460bhp to the four wheels at 5000rpm, the launch control system allows only a foot and a half of wheelspin off the line from the super-wide 305mm rear tyres. The gearbox short-shifts to second gear a bit further to prevent more wheelspin and as the four-wheel-drive system hooks up the power in second, you are slammed back into your seat with a force of 1.1g, before the gearbox executes another lightning-quick short-shift. By around 120kph, the car has enough grip to hook up all 500bhp and permanently pins you to the backrest of the seat.
Fast and furious
0-150kph is dispatched in a scarcely believable six and something seconds! And 0-200 takes a simply absurd 10.9sec. To 160 it's only a second slower than the illustrious McLaren F1 road car.
Getting up to 250 or even 280kph on expressway-like toll roads takes only a few seconds of right foot down, and the incredible stability of the car can tells your conscious mind to go faster.
Even better is the fact that you can use a lot of this performance on the road. After timing the cars on the track, we were let loose for a day on Portugal's best winding roads and highways. Naturally, we expect billiard-smooth tarmac en route; this car does have 500bhp after all. But Porsche's pre-selected route initially serves up poorly surfaced roads full of rough patches and badly executed repair work, so we felt quite at home. Despite the ultra-low profile tyres (35 front and 30 rear), the 19-inch rims and the stiff suspension set-up, the new Turbo can be quite comfortable over them.
When attacking corners the 911 Turbo remains unfazed by the constantly changing surfaces, even as speeds and cornering forces build. Yes, bigger holes and dips do upset it and cause it to go thud, thud and that's only to be expected. Still, the relatively friendly ride should work wonders for this car in Indian conditions. And you can thank Porsche's adjustable dampers and active engine mounts for this.
Porsche's Torque Vectoring system allows you to really brake hard going into a corner as it sets the car up perfectly for the corner with individual wheel braking.
The paddle shift PDK 'box allows for crisp downshifts and with not that much weight over the front wheels, the steering is deliciously accurate. Accelerating hard out of a corner, with the 911's weight on the rear wheels and rear tyres really loaded is a real thrill few cars can match.
Of course on the road, there's just no using the ‘Sport Plus' or even the ‘Sport' button, unless the road is billiard-table flat. Even at 250kph, you need the extra suppleness of the suspension to flatten out the bumps and that means the car must be driven in its normal street setting. Let the Turbo loose on a track though and Sport Plus is the only way to go as the Porsche goes to a sportier set-up for both performance and handling. Sport Plus allows you much more leeway with the ESP (PSM in Porsche-speak) and that of course means that little bit of extra 911 rear end slip manifests itself when you are really up to track speeds.
The only real issue that surfaced with the new Turbo is when it is driven in traffic.
In the search for greater fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, the gearbox rapidly shifts up the gears when it's driven in ‘D', leaving you to deal with the turbo lag present below 2000rpm.
Also, higher-profile tyres would be safer in Indian conditions as would more ground clearance. But with its massive performance, incisive handling, a big safety net and half-decent ride, the 911 Turbo would make a very useable hypercar given our conditions.