First Drive Review: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

 

We’ve been talking about this car a lot lately, the 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S, with its lack of a manual gearbox. We went nuts in an Uncooked Truth about it. But “Snap” has the real judgement call in his first drive review, while wearing a C7 Corvette Stingray t-shirt from that recent drive. That Billy, such a daredevil.

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Shitting flaming German bricks all over a steaming hot track

Guilty. Take me away in chains and have me drawn and quartered, you sissies. At this drive event for the zipping new Porsche Turbo and Turbo S, I utterly dissed the 514bhp Turbo units they had here in favor of discovering the competitive soul of the 553bhp Turbo S all over the new private test circuit called Bilster Berg in northern Joymany.

What an effing day I had. This track is perfect in its conditions and the weather was ideal for a mighty bi-turbo engine: thorough light cloud cover, about 70 degrees, and widely scattered orgasms. No wind either.

Besides kicking the $149,250 991 911 Turbo to the curb and not even getting her phone number, I was also offered the chance to drive my chosen $182,050 Turbo S in GT silver metallic out on the verdant country roads outside of the track facility. I chuffed at the thought, having the sense to get absolute maximum playtime on this track and with this car. I made the correct decision, though I hereby apologize for slapping the Porsche staffers who suggested this absurd alternative.

Hell, if I have no idea already how this variant of the 911 will behave on public roads then I am some delirious rank amateur. And agreeing to minimize my track time would also classify me as an all-time idiot.

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The A number 1 challenge in drive reviewing any new model 911 version is to avoid the dark chasm of technical overdetail and just get on with the drive excitement – the real beef. This challenge exists because auto journos feel compelled, especially with Porsche 911s, to unzip their tech-geek pants and prove to all other journalists just how much we know about the all-time great sports car icon. I’ve fallen into the quicksand down there many times and I don’t want to screw the pooch like that any more. I drove the piss out of this sensational car and it responded very much as I was hoping it would.

The 997 mark II 911 Turbo and Turbo S were great cars already but still felt at times lumpy in tight hot curves right when you didn’t want them to be. Understeer, and the steering input needed, just were not as optimal as nearly everything else about those cars was. The nimbleness was there for me but not quite at all times. The longer wheelbase 991 911 fairly much repairs these picky drawbacks. At the Bilster Berg track through several very heated laps, I came away quite convinced that a Turbo owner’s track experience will not be very much less exhilarating versus that in the new GT3, just different. And frequently faster.

This long GT wheelbase nowadays combined with a superior all-wheel-drive system that gets more torque to the front axle as needed and more quickly than before, all makes for sensational momentum from the instant the throttle tips in. And the 750 Newton meters (553 pound-feet) of torque in the Turbo S is fully on call from 2,200 through 4,000 rpm, the sweet spot out of curves and when overtaking. Porsche demurely claims a 2.9-second acceleration run to 60 mph, though I know that the time will be 2.6 seconds. Top speed is let out to 318 km/h, or 198 mph, of which I explored a maximum 158 mph on this circuit’s not very long back straight in fourth gear just as I was ready to flick the PDK into fifth at around 7,000 rpm, redline now being 7,200 revs and max power arriving at 6,500 to 6,750. Overdrive gear ratios start at fifth with 0.94:1, then the longer sixth (0.79) and seventh (0.62) are mostly responsible for the Turbo and Turbo S being 15 percent more fuel efficient on average versus the 997 II generation.

So, she’s quick. (All sports cars are female.) Not really a surprise that it would be so, but what is terrifically new here is the car’s agility in burning hot transitions, weight/momentum transfers, and the dynamic like. We have all-wheel steering now on every Turbo and Turbo S. Up to 31 mph, the rear axle’s actuators at each end steer the 20-inch standard wheels in the opposite direction to the steering direction of the front wheels and at a maximum angle of 2.8 degrees. The physical effect of this is to virtually shorten the wheelbase by 9.8 inches, very handy whenever wanting to pull U-turns or simply maneuver into parking spots in cities. We felt this firsthand while getting some of our dynamic shots on the track you see here. The circuit is generally not very wide, but the Turbo S performed the U-turn maneuver in even less width than this narrow tarmac, a feat which genuinely surprised me…which ain’t always easy to do in Jaded Journoland.

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Then at speeds over 50 mph, the rear wheels get turned in the same direction as the fronts to a maximum angle of 1.5 degrees. This creates a tremendous sense of agility and directness of line at speed and in the heat of a lap. The help provided by the all-wheel steering is only accentuated by the Turbo S getting standard 20-inch wheels and tires – Pirelli P Zero 245/35 ZR20 91Y in front and 305/30 103Y in back. Then there are the various widths: versus the base Carrera, the Turbo body is 3.2 inches wider at the rear haunches, 1.1 inches wider than the current Carrera 4 bodies (with which the Turbos have traditionally shared rear haunch widths). So now that haunch upper is now almost dead flat and seriously wide as it reaches out from the main bodywork.

Where I really caught a glimpse of how this Swabian pitbull effortlessly spits occupants forward as they sit cozily inside was while either on my way to the track or through longer curves at the circuit with a pro racer’s car in front of me hammering the throttle entering a subsequent straight. The forward momentum is deceptively pounding and there is no turbocharger lag from the twin VTG turbos. Catapulting like this with grabbing traction at all four corners is terrific.

Other innovations that shined under hard tack conditions were the active aerodynamics fore and aft. There is the rear wing with its three positions decided by the speed or mode of Porsche Sport Chrono Plus you are in, or via the wing’s button on the console that can leave the tail fully erect and turgid at all times. Then, for the first time, there is a front active rubbery spoiler that extends somewhat funnily via inflatable tubes mounted behind. In Sport Plus, everything is always extended, and the braking effect was so noticeable to me that I nearly mastered a few curve entries without braking at all. Gladly also, the Turbo S comes with the ceramic brake discs standard – 16.1-inch diameter front and 15.4-inch in back. All this aero and stopping management put together – not to leave out the now standard Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control for active anti-roll – renders this very lively Turbo S a very slick drive at the limits.

Via the newly boosted 553-bhp (and 553 lb-ft of torque) 3.8-liter flat-six engine in back, the seven-speed PDK can carry the Turbo S around the Nürburgring Nordschleife on the standard tires in just 7:27, Porsche experts claiming that the active aero bits help peel off two seconds alone. Does the PDK-only philosophy make me poopy? No, not at all. In Turbos with their typical clients, a manual is a thing of the past as owners would rather stay on the phone multitasking or holding their coffee. On the GT3 it makes me poopy, here no.

North American deliveries of the 991 911 Turbo and Turbo S start toward the end of 2013. I completely dig the Turbo S and if I had me the money…you know the story.

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2014 Porsche 991 911 Turbo S Coupe VITAL STATS:

Engine: 3.8L flat-six

Power: 553 bhp / 553 lb-ft

Transmission: 7-speed auto

0-60 mph Time: 2.9 Seconds (est.)

Top Speed: 198 mph

Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive

Curb Weight: 3,538 LBS

Seating: 2+2

Fuel mpg: N/A

Base Price: $182,050

[Snap – text, pics, vid; photos – more pics by Manuel Hollenbach]

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