Porsche 911 Turbo S

April 2011

picture of car from the front

Subtle exterior changes mark out Turbo S model over standard Turbo

Ratings

Overall Rating 9Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 3Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 6Comfort

Security Rating 9Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Epic performance is effortlessly delivered
  • Standard ceramic brakes offer mighty stopping power
  • Remains remarkably easy to drive
  • Balance and four-wheel drive are reassuring

Gripes

  • Significant premium over standard Turbo
  • Not as pretty as naturally aspirated 911s
  • Purchase and running costs likely to be very high
  • Few British roads fast enough to stretch its abilities

With a version to suit the most demanding buyers, Porsche's 911 is a car that is constantly evolving with new iterations and special editions on a regular basis. Until recently the Turbo was the fastest regular production model that Porsche produces, but some significant changes have resulted in the even-faster Turbo S.

The 997-series Porsche 911 is already an exceptional performance car, offering the unmistakable silhouette which has remained a firm favourite with sports car buyers without looking outdated. A series of wheel and exterior styling packages allow further tailoring, but the inherent proportions and details are simple and attractive. It is easy to tell the Turbo S apart from other 911s in the range thanks to the deep front spoiler which feeds air to the brakes. At the rear there is another large aerodynamic aid, while the large side scoops ahead of the rear wheels indicate the power on offer.

Other than the limited-run RS models, only the Turbo and Turbo S use the turbocharged 3.6-litre version of the famous flat six engine. Although otherwise identical the Turbo S uses higher boost pressure in the turbochargers (1.0 bar as opposed to 0.8 bar) at all times - this higher pressure is only available in the standard Turbo for brief periods. This small but significant change means the Turbo S has a significant power advantage and is one of the most powerful cars the company produces.

The four-wheel drive system harnesses this extra power, and it uses a viscous centre coupling within the system. This means that the 911 Turbo S has permanent four-wheel drive, with at least 5 percent of the engine's power being fed to the front wheels. If the system detects rear wheel slip, it can divert more power to the front wheels, up to a maximum of 40 per cent. That gives the four-wheel drive variants superb traction, aided by the rear-engined configuration.

The Turbo S also benefits from a number of features which are usually optional on other 911 models such as the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox and the Sport Chrono pack which includes launch control, allowing even ordinary drivers to achieve spectacular acceleration times.

Our verdict on the Porsche 911 Turbo S

Arguably the regular 911 Turbo will be enough for most people, but the subtle changes to create the Turbo S are worth the significant sum. The truly devastating performance makes it a rival for supercars costing twice as much yet it retains a remarkable degree of user-friendliness.

Costs
Costs rating 3

Running costs for the 911 are likely to be very high. Fuel economy is relatively low, while insurance and running costs will be at the higher end of the scale.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

Front seat passengers have plenty of room in all directions, and are unlikely to have any quibbles. In the rear space is more restricted, though the seats are suitable for average sized adults on short journeys. Storage space in the cabin is relatively good, although the front boot is only suitable for carrying a couple of soft bags.

picture of car from the rear

Large rear wing to provide aerodynamic downforce

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The layout of the 911's cabin is impressive. It retains the classic five-dial layout for the instruments, supplemented by changeable digital displays. As well as being attractive it is very informative and easy to use. Some of the smaller buttons on the dashboard are quite small, but otherwise the cabin is faultless.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 6

The 911 does a good job of delivering respectable comfort levels. The seats are superb, firm and supportive even over long distances. Noise levels are quite restrained, the engine subsiding when on a light throttle. The stiffness of the dampers is adjustable depending on the driver demands, but even on the softest setting bigger bumps are best avoided.

Car security
Security Rating 9

All Porsche 911 vehicles are fitted with a tracking system as standard, making it very difficult for the car to be successfully stolen. In addition it has an immobiliser and alarm as standard.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

With the added benefit of four-wheel drive, the 911 offers a high level of active and passive safety. The excellent grip and high levels of braking power make it easier to avoid an accident in the first place.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 9

Just like the regular Turbo, the key appeal of the Turbo S is huge amounts of power and torque that are easily accessible combined with the docile nature of the car when driven sedately. Below 3,000rpm the Turbo S is still a very quick car but the turbos are providing very little boost, making it relatively undemanding to drive in traffic. However, beyond 3,00rpm and the full force of the turbochargers unleashes a huge wave of power. With the fast-shifting PDK gearbox working hard, the Turbo S can deliver an unending blast of acceleration that can leave the unwary slightly dizzy.

picture of car interior

Familiar interior allows high degree of personalisation

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 4

The 911 is not an ideal family car, although it could carry two adults and children. Insufficient boot space would be the key issue, as is access to the rear seats.

First car appeal
First car Rating 1

The 911 is much too powerful and expensive for a first car, although in many respects it is easy to drive.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 10

The 911's reputation is founded on high quality, and almost without exception it delivers. It feels thoroughly engineered throughout and robust, with the only demerit being the slightly flimsy nature of some of the minor switches. The 911's image is even stronger, remaining one of the most desirable sports cars ever despite strong competition, and its reputation as a superb driver's car is well-known.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

For a sports car, the 911 is easy to get into. The doors are long and open wide, and although the seats are low set, it is not a long drop down into them. Access to the rear does require the seat to be slid forward, which takes a few seconds if electric seats are fitted. The optional sports bucket seats have high sides which make getting in a little more difficult than usual.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

With the optional Bose stereo system fitted, the 911 has a superb sound system. Radio, CDs and MP3 CDs can be played, and the sound quality is of a high standard. Steering wheel controls also make it easy to operate, and unlike many cars these controls are small so they do not interfere during spirited driving.

picture of car in detail

Carbon ceramic brakes offer huge stopping power

Colours and trim

All 911 variants come with a wide range of colour options both inside and out, even down to details such as colouring the wheels, wheel centres, seat belts and trim. The 911 shape works well in both bright and sober hues, though classic colours such as white, silver and red are likely to be most popular.

Parking

Because of its unique shape, parking the 911 can be a little tricky. Visibility all round is generally good, but the sloping rear can make it difficult to judge. However, parking sensors are available as an option.

Spare wheel

Tyre inflation kit fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options: 3.6-litre petrol (345bhp and 415bhp), 3.6-litre turbocharged (500bhp, 530bhp, 620bhp), 3.8-litre petrol (385bhp, 408bhp, 435bhp, 450bhp). All are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic also available. There are no specific trim levels.

 

Alternative cars

Audi R8 V10 Powerful, charismatic and desirable

Lamborghini Gallardo Most usable Lamborghini ever is highly competent

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Can't quite match the performance but equal drama

Ferrari 458 Italia Much more expensive, less suited to everyday use



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April 2011