50 years of the 911? An accurate description of how 2013's Porsche coverage might have felt at times but last we checked it was only 365 days in duration and as the year closes we'll bring a full stop to the chapter headed 'The 911's half century'.
Perfect conditions to test the technology
Appropriately enough it involves attempting to max out the most potent 991 launched this year and another
As you'll know by now, the 991 Turbo is the biggest, baddest and most powerful Turbo yet and adds adaptive aero, 28mm extra in the hips over even the widebody Carrera 4 and comes in 520hp standard and 560hp S trim. As you'd expect, the latter results in a lot of impressive facts and figures but the one that most pricks up the attention is a starting price - starting price - of £140,852. The 911 Turbo has always had supercar troubling performance. But now it's getting on equal terms with price too - perhaps the most significant statement of intent from this new 991-generation car.
Like a duck to water
We'll leave that elephant in the corner of the room for the time being and instead look at what the thing is like to drive. When Dan Prosser took the wheel for PH's first taste back in August it was predictably the ability to shrink the distance between two points that proved most memorable. 560hp, four-wheel drive and an expansive box of electronic tricks will do that and confirmed what the on-paper information released ahead of the launch had promised.
Final hurrah for 2013's 911 obsession
drove one in the UK
- again mainly on the road - and we got the first hint that this 991 Turbo had something seemingly squeezed out of previous ones. Namely, character. Soul, even. From the 997's "speed for speed's sake" Harris declared the 991 has "a very defined and very attractive character, albeit one which takes a few days to emerge."
We didn't have that luxury for our next go. Would a few laps of a soaking wet Silverstone National be enough to explore this idea further? One way to find out.
Given that the GT3 is meant to be the track day 911 of choice just what is proven by taking a Turbo S out on track? Well, first that it's bloody fast. Startling revelation of 2013 right there for you. How fast is bloody fast? Relentlessly fast, fast enough to make even the wide expanses of Silverstone narrow into a pinched focal point and make you take deep breaths every time you successfully scrub off the speed for the next corner.
560hp on a sodden track ... and a big grin?
Down the short Wellington Straight on the National loop the Turbo S is pulling close to 140mph before the PCCBs haul all that considerable momentum back down to a pace at which it can realistically turn into the deceptively tight Brooklands/Luffield complex. In the wet at Silverstone you want to keep well away from the conventional dry line, this being as slippery as the skin of a greased up eel, but when the wider wet line is pocked with puddles of standing water that doesn't appeal too much either.
The Turbo is not built to go dancing but whichever of those acronyms it is that gets you into the corner is damned good at its job, the true cleverness of this 991 not the technology in isolation but the seamless way in which it interacts with its partner systems.
Obviously we know that the Turbo is four-wheel steer. And will do everything from stiffen itself to prevent roll, brake inside wheels to curb understeer while diverting power to the outside ones to keep you pointing the right way and shuffle power back and forth to the axle best situated to make the most of it. The technology is boggling. But, like the electric steering, it does such a good job of disguising its synthetic roots you never feel like you've got a technological fluffer there to maintain your driving virility.
Conditions really showed Turbo's talents
Like the 918 Spyder
, it's in this calibration of multitudinous technological cleverness where the 991 Turbo - a Terminator of a sports car if ever there was one - gets its soul. Contrived and enhanced or not, the new 911 Turbo at least attempts engagement in the process of going outrageously fast. There's a sense of flat-six howl rather than a flat, flatulent forced induction roar and the greasy Silverstone tarmac allows an exploration of what all those gizmos do at vaguely sensible speeds.
Trying to dissect which is doing what isn't so easy though, such is the seamless integration. Those who've driven it in the dry have commented on the four-wheel steering enhanced sharpness on turn-in. Well, it'll still push on but that's more likely to be the ohmygawd excess speed you've just carried up the straight rather than traditional 911 understeer.
ABS hammering away after another 'holy shiiiiii......' accelerative burst the PCCB brakes haul the Turbo up straight from huge speeds even with one set of tyres in standing water and the other nibbling at ice-like kerbs. Bleed the brake pressure away on turn in and it'll pivot neatly, keep a little too much on and momentum will get those big hips swinging, likewise if you over-commit and then attempt to back out of it.
She's no looker but the Turbo's more fun
But here's the surprise - a wide window of neutrality and a surprisingly gentle transition into oversteer that can be gathered up with a team effort of corrective lock and stability control. That builds confidence and tentative attempts to ride it out on the throttle, at which point the cleverness really shows itself. A measured amount of right foot straightens the car neatly into a predictable slide as you wind off the lock and deploy more and more power before erupting up the next straight. Or with the PSM incrementally disengaged as confidence grows you can get a little more greedy, at which point the Turbo responds by balancing itself in drifts as lairy as you (or your Porsche chaperone) feel comfortable with.
Doing this in the dry
will require significantly more commitment but driving it in the wet actually reveals this new-found playfulness at a much more accessible level. It's something of a revelation too.
Making the 991 Turbo fast was never going to be a problem. But making it fun? That's a real masterstroke.
Oh, and don't blow out those candles quite yet either. 2014? 40 years of the Turbo...
PORSCHE 911 TURBO S
Engine: 3,800cc, flat-6, twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed PDK, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 560hp@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 553lb ft@2,200rpm
Top speed: 198mph
MPG: 29.0mpg (claimed)