First Drive: Porsche 911 Turbo (997/2)
With 500HP (493bhp) it has almost twice the power of the original 1974 911 Turbo. Available with optional PDK transmission for 2010, the latest Turbo can reach 194mph and accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. The Nordschleife, however, is the real test of such a car and it’s a massive 10 seconds faster there than its direct predecessor.
Since 1974, Porsche has sold approximately 80,000 Turbos, an extraordinary achievement when you remember that the original was intended principally to be a homologation special for racing. Now, 35 years later, the latest 3.8-litre twin-turbo version retains the spirit of the original but it is incomparably superior in its performance and road manners. It is also nearly 18 per cent better on CO2 emissions than its predecessor, making it a class leader in that respect.
Launched in the warm Portuguese October sunshine as Northern Europe began to shiver, conditions were perfect for a 911 Turbo first drive. We chose the most sporty variant, with Porsche PDK double-clutch transmission, forged 19in light alloy wheels, ceramic brakes and the aero kit with a large tail-wing. Inside were sports seats and the carbon trim package.
As we set off towards Cascais, and from there to the westernmost point of the European mainland, the improvements over the 2006 car were obvious. After just 100km, the main impression was that it sits even more securely on the road and accelerates noticeably more strongly. It also steers more directly than any previous Turbo.
At the Estoril GP circuit, race and rally ace Walter Röhrl revealed the full potential of the all-new 3.8-litre engine, which now has variable turbine geometry and, for the first time, direct petrol injection. Apart from raising the power, this has lifted maximum torque to an awesome 479lb ft. The PDK gearbox, with seven speeds instead of the standard six, shifts the ratios quickly and smoothly. It is ideally suited to the 911 Turbo and at Estoril we activate the Sport Plus key, with the PDK set in ‘racing mode’, giving the shortest possible gear shifts, always at optimum revs.
With the Sport Chrono package stiffening the dynamic engine mountings, the chassis takes on a firmer and more direct feel, improving the sense of security and response in circuit driving conditions. The active all-wheel drive, combined with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) and Porsche Stability Management (PSM) provides stunning traction and cornering response. On top of that, this test car gives us the benefit of the latest option, the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system, which, mainly through brake interference, increases chassis agility and steering precision even further, particularly on twisting roads. With PTV activated, the new 911 Turbo corners faster than ever.
As for design details, there are significant improvements but the changes are subtle enough. Drivers of the sixth generation model won’t feel uncomfortably left behind. Titanium colouring is seen in the lateral air intakes and LED driving lights are standard, in place of the previous foglights. Also new are the optional lights which swing by up to 15 degrees into the curves. The rear lights now have LED technology, too, and larger exhaust tailpipes are noticeable.
The new 911 Turbos will be available in Germany and the UK on November 21, priced in the UK from £101,823 for the Coupé and £109,048 for the Cabriolet. Standard equipment includes the touch-screen Porsche Communication Management system with both Bluetooth mobile telephone and iPod connectivity. Also fitted to every 911 Turbo is a Porsche Vehicle Tracking System (VTS), approved to Thatcham Category 5 standard.
Depending on the model chosen, fuel consumption ranges between 24.1 and 24.8mpg under the EU5 standard. It’s that remarkable improvement which most distinguishes the generation change in this new model. Who, back in 1974, would have dared to imagine that one day a Porsche 911 Turbo could ever deliver such figures?
Photos: Mathias Paulokat