UK CAR Review
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The 911 Turbo has been the ultimate Porsche production car since 1975. Countless road tests have found them to be the greatest super-car since sliced bread. The new model is said to be the fastest and best-handling ever. Porsche, that is, and 911, that is, as well.
Let's take a quick zip through the Turbo's history.
|The Turbo is probably the most charismatic of the Charismatic
A 911 Turbo with a big wing glued to the rear has become synonymous with the name of Porsche, to the point where Porsche are, even now, still unable to kill it off despite a couple of decades of effort.
The first Turbo was introduced in 1975. The Porsche engineers had played with turbo chargers on the competition Porsches and then Uber chairman Ernst Fuhrman thought is was possible to use a turbo on a production car.
In 1973 a prototype 'Turbo' was displayed at the European Motor shows and in 1974 another prototype 911 Turbo was shown at the Paris Motorshow. Egged on by drooling customers the Turbo went on sale in 1975 with a 3.0 litre 260 bhp engine and was very luxurious by 911 standards of the day.
|Air conditioning, electric windows, a leather interior, tinted glass,
headlamp washers and Bilstein shocks were all standard on the Turbo.
The modifications were so extensive that the car bore it's own type number: the 930.
The Turbo was originally introduced as a limited edition model as only 500 were to be sold. The demand for the Turbo was, however, so strong that more then 1000 were sold and the future of the Turbo was secure.
With it's huge rear wing, widened wheel arches and big tyres, the Turbo looked faster than any other 911. The great look of the Turbo in combination with the powerful engine made it a very desirable car (later Turbo-look bodies would become a popular option on cooking 911s).
|The widened wheel arches of the Turbo were protected against stone-chips
by 'shark-fins' that would become characteristic of the Turbo.
The front and rear wings were derived from the 3 litre RSR made suitable for road use and increased down force at high speeds. The 'Whale-tail' with its two grilles fed extra cooling air to the engine. In 1976 the second grille in the wing was enlarged.
Whilst it had performance second to none, its handling was unpredictable to say the least. Despite Porsche's development of the 911 chassis, the wicked on/off power of the first generation Turbo caught out many an unwary buyer and more than a few were probably lost in ditches and stacked around corners and roundabouts the world over .
3.3 litreIn 1978 the engine capacity was increased to 3.3 litre and an intercooler was mounted. Together with some other modifications the 3.3 litre engine now produced 40 bhp more 300 bhp. If anyone doubted Porsche's challenge to the stratosphere end of the market, they didn't now.
The same year the rear wing was again revised. The two separate grilles were replaced by one larger smoother surface, and it was placed a little higher, to make room for the new intercooler. The newer wing can be recognised by the 'curled' sides, and its flat top.
Brakes were also upgraded, but, unfortunately for Porsche, in 1979 the Turbo was withdrawn from the important US and Japanese markets as a public-relations exercise in response to a second energy crisis which stifled development for a few years.
In 1986 the Turbo became available again in the US and development continued apace. Previously the flares had been incorporated in the wings by welding. In 1986 Porsche used flares that were created in the stamping process of the wings, indicating that Porsche had long term plans for the Turbo or at least the style.
The Turbo was now also made available in Targa and Cabriolet versions.
In 1991 a new Turbo, based on the Carrera 2, was introduced. This car featured an upgraded 3.3 litre engine and a widened version of the Carrera 2's bodywork. This body was also the basis for the highstrung Turbo S2, only around 25 of which were produced.
The Turbo SIn 1992 Porsche showed the Turbo S at the Geneva Motorshow.
This prototype was built to honour the Turbo's third IMSA Supercar crown.
On the side it read 'Supercar Champion' and an IMSA logo was placed beside it.
The production S didn't get this script but the engine was tuned to deliver 381 bhp and the body was stripped and fitted with lightweight features. The car weighed some 120 kgs less then the standard Turbo which, when combined with the extra power, made the Turbo S seriously fast. The doors, bonnet and boot were carbon fibre and the rear wheel arches had extra air inlets to cool the engine. A production run of only 80 Turbo S's, ensured its place in the Porsche collectors dream list.
Turbo 3.6In 1993 the ageing flat sixes capacity was again increased to 3.6 litre. The 3.6 featured the same 18-inch modular wheels that were used on the Turbo S and can easily be recognised by the Turbo 3.6 badge. Again an S version numbering around 90 were built.
By now handling had become sensible though still not to be taken for granted.
The 3.6 was the last great development of the original 911. Compare it to the very first 911 with its paltry horse power and you can see possibly the world's greatest hot rod.
Its long lineage was both its strength and its weakness. On the one hand everybody recognises the 911 as a legendary supercar and it was developed continuously to within a whisker of its life but, at the same time, the 911 was saddled with design features from the early 60s and had maybe become somewhat long in the tooth against ever-more impressive opposition.
911 GT2The 911 GT2 car was built for pure performance. It was launched in 1996 to comply with the international GT Racing homogalation rules.
The GT2 was powered by a tuned 911 Turbo engine with modified bodywork and the Carrera 2's two-wheel drive system.
Porsche also put the GT2 on a diet. It is 200kgs lighter then a standard Turbo, several body parts are made of aluminium and the widened wheel arches are made from plastic.
A 911 GT1 also existed. This was a pure racing car adapted for the road.
And so to the new Model. It's still called by the trademark 911 moniker
but in Porsche circles it's probably the most argued-about car ever. Porsche
fanatics have long argued over whether minor changes have softened, improved
the 911 marque, getting into quite a tiz over each and every change
(take it from me guys, the engineers at Porsche are way smarter than any
of us so we should just leave it to them). The new 911 stands proudly
as the arch heretic of Nine Elevendom, basically the same idea but
done in such a fashion as to be completely different. It reflects
and echoes the glory of the old 911 but does so like the new BMW Mini
mimics the old Mini.
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In the mid 1980s, Porsche created a stunning supercar called 959. It not only smashed all the world records for top speed and acceleration, the car also featured many advanced new Porsche technologies, computer-controlled all-wheel drive, four valves per cylinder, sequential turbochargers, self-levelling suspension, lightweight body panels and advanced aerodynamics. No supercar before had received so many technology breakthroughs as the 959, only 230 of them were built and the asking price was truly astronomical. Many could not see where the 959 was going. How could Porsche spend so much development time and money on a sub 250 car project? Yet they did and all cars since have seen bits of technology rolled out into the standard production cars. You could see the 959 as a rolling test bed, testing features out on 250 very rich, not too fussy customers.
And now we can see the full payback on the seeds sown then. Now an almost identical in performance 911 Turbo can be picked up from Porsche for less than half the mid 80s price of a 959.
With such similar capabilities, it is surely not coincidence that the
911 Turbo, in the process of being modified from the regular but still
stunning 911 Carrera, takes many design cues from the 959. Up front are
three large, low air intakes and some unique high intensity discharge Xenon
headlight clusters with low and high beam HID bulbs. The new air
intakes give the Turbo a droopier frontal appearance than the Carrera but, more importantly, the radiators behind them provide 50%
surface to keep control of the wild Turbo motor.
At the rear is yet more 959, with big air intakes integrated into the widened wings and rear cutouts behind the wheels. The intakes channel air to the intercoolers and the cutouts release air from the turbocharger wastegates. The Turbo also features a two-piece electronic wing with the wing's upper piece automatically rising at speeds above 75 mph, adjusting aerodynamics to suit.
Fascinating stuff but hardly the kind of stuff to turn a 911 nerd purple with anger. Nope, that's reserved for the engine. What do they object to here? Its trickiness? No. Variable intakes and exhausts? No. Multitude of cams? No. Hyper tech lightweight materials? Nope. They have seen all this before. What they object to is a little water. Cooling water in fact and they hate it with a fiery passion. Regardless of the fact that 50% of it is anti-freeze, they hate it like an aquaphobic tramp. They point out that air cooling has been good enough for over 35 years and they love the upmarket version of MZ two stroke ring-a-ding . They studiously ignore the fact that it ran about 20 litres of oil, making it pretty much oil-jacketed and cooled.
For Porsche it makes sense. The heating's easier to engineer, the engine is lighter, it's quieter and it fits ever-tightening noise-emission laws whilst offering even tighter thermal control. Even Mr Honda, the most aquaphobic engineer of all time, bowed to the inevitable and abandoned air cooling.
All in all it's good news, especially the lighter motor. It's still stuck out the back so any weight taken off here can only improve weight distribution, hence balance and handling.
Still, this is all well and good but does it make any difference in
reality? Are we talking about improvements beyond the boundaries of diminishing
or so far beyond the cutting edge that 99.9% of us would never find out?
Did we ever expect to find out? Did we hell! Which mug is going to bring £90,000 of car around and let us loose on it in exchange for a free wash?
When ******** (name hidden to protect identity) offered without so much as a
Thank You, we were out of the door with the
keys before he could change his mind or start to cry.
Half way across the car park a big red neon sign glowed into my mind 420BHP
Stopping in my tracks for a second I thought back to the fastest machine I had ever piloted, only 130bhp but then it only weighed around 200kgs. The Porsche could not be anywhere near that Suzuki on the accelerative curve and it had two extra stabilizing wheels. My smile returned as I continued on towards my rendezvous before being stopped by another thought
Hmmm, that wiped the smile off my face. More money than my mortgage.
Still, it's maybe a once-in-a-lifetime deal and to refuse the offer would be like turning down a freebie from Pammie.
And I ain't that daft.
Surveying the gleaming beast up close and personal is even better than looking at Pammie, She's not real. This most definitely is.
Just like Pammie, the size is what strikes you first, only in this case it's the small size. And to my mind this is the most endearing feature of the 911 and the one which makes the design just so popular. Unlike most other Exotica the 911 is a relatively compact little beast, not some hulking great work of automotive art scaled nicely to poster dimensions and unable to fit down your average street.
The new 911 is a lot bigger than the car it replaces: 185mm longer, 30mm wider, 80mm longer wheelbase means the cabin room is more generous. Front seats are more comfortable and well positioned with less wheel arch intrusion and pedal offset. Bigger yes, but then that's only because the venerable 911 was so tiny.
New it may be, but 911 it still most definitely is. The shape which has stuck so forcefully for nigh on 40 years is still there, granted there is less squashed beetle and more torpedo about it nowadays but it's still more reminiscent of the old model than many marques can manage in a facelift of the average 5-year-old design. It's low, oh so low that I begin to worry about getting off the car park lip. The vents which I expected to gracelessly adorn the bodywork are laid flawlessly and say "I do a really important job", rather than "Look at me, I was designed by an American custom car builder with a bag of fibre glass".
The only bit I am not quite sure about is the headlamp treatment. It's an improvement for sure but is it just a little too fussy? I'm also not quite convinced it looks like 90,000 quid. The front end treatment though, I love. Personally I think the new 911 is the best looking 911 yet.
Nervously I unlock the door and settle inside the cockpit. It's
a good fit to my average butt, thanks to the thickly padded seat bolsters.
Seats are electrically operated and there's Position Memory for
the driver. Though why anyone in their right mind would need it is beyond me.
After all, who is going to let anyone else drive their new £90,000
super toy? Seeing *********** (name hidden to protect identity) scuttling
across the car park, I flick down the central locking and leave him to
beat upon the windows whilst I inspect the new interior.
|The Carrera 4 has a virtually identical interior. Small,
black plastic buttons are dotted across the instrument panel but they
are easy enough to work out and nothing seems too bizarre. An 8000 rpm rev-counter and a speedometer dominate the dash cluster. There are an awful
lot of small numbers to fit into the space and it looks quite crowded.
Hmmmm, it's got 420bhp and does 189mph and they still need to use half the dash to remind you to put on your seat belt. The other half should show a picture of a crash helmet.
Lovely metal trim adorns the 6 speed gear stick and door cappings. But for £90k I am not overly impressed by the interior. The materials are fine, the fit is fine but it lacks any real visual flair and is fairly typical Porsche. All business and little glamour. Still an improvement over the older models mind, and they are such fine driving cars that fripperies become somewhat less important once on the move. Bearing in mind that I still think the E-type was the doyen of dashboard style, you may choose to be more impressed.
Feeling a little like an astronaut about to light the blue touch paper, I mentally count down to the point where the power of 420 horses comes to life a few feet south of my rear end.
10,9,8,7,6,5, my temples perspire, 4 my hands turn slippery, 3 my backside is twitching, 2, 1 I'm starting to cry ........ click whirr.
Flames shoot out of the back singeing pedestrians, the waste gate opens with a supersonic boom, the rev counter flips around bouncing off the rev limiter as a gallon of aviation fuel is spewed raw through the engine, ......... But I'm dreaming. It's not like that at all. The flat six emits a small bark like a startled dog and then settles instantly to idle. That's it. Compared to the continuous artillery attack barrage of something like a TVR, it could be any of a million Vauxhall Novas with a Sports tail pipe.
Clicking the metal-lined gear stick into first with a quick visual double check, I remember the last 911 around these parts with its total lack of flywheel and on/off clutch. I carefully balance a few revs and the heavy clutch and pull the steering wheel around, bringing the nose to the forecourt exit. The steering is firm but not hefty. I trickle out into the traffic, carefully modulating the throttle to avoid any kangaroo-like behaviour.
The 911 Turbo has always been a GT car. It was never meant as a stripped-out, lightweight track-day-only machine.
Full leather, power seating, electric sunroof, electric windows, electric adjustable and heated exterior mirrors, trip computer, automatic climate control and a monster 10-speaker audio system (with optional CD player).
Suspension and Technical
Not being aimed solely at track-day excess, a GT needs to be sensibly sprung enough to allow you to potter through the Lakes or the Highlands searching out empty roads and filling stations without the need for a hospital appointment to fix your back.
Now, this is not the easiest of jobs in a car that packs this much punch and must perform with some semblance of elegance across a nigh on 200mph speed range.
Tricky conical front springs and cylindrical rear springs controlling independent suspension linked by anti roll bars. Firm? Yep. Stiff? Erm, yep. Hard? Errr, no not really. The ride is surprisingly compliant. You expect a tooth rattling, filling displacing ride, certainly at slow speeds but you do not quite expect the level of compliance that Porsche has drilled into the system. If this is the low, hard sprung version then the normal 911 must ride like a Citroen. The front and rear bump stops are "micro-cellular" rather than rubber and are actually auxiliary springs that work in tandem with the steel springs to provide a very progressive, ramped-up spring rate at the extreme of suspension compression.
In advanced European societies like Germany, France, Spain, Italy and erm, Greece the ride is probably awe inspiring. On Britain's shell-shocked medieval cobbled B road-like surfaces it's a little less pleasurable, the suspension and stiff body sending little tremors to the groaning and creaking interior trim. But on smoother roads like motorways it settles to a smooth gait, only lightly disturbed by the odd expansion joint. Though passing Birmingham is as wearing in this as any other car short of a limo.
Body roll happens due to the basic laws of Physics. The Germans do not seem to believe in these basic laws of the Universe and hence body roll does not exist. What laws of Physics they do believe in they seem intent on engineering into irrelevance anyway.
The huge power is routed to all four wheels via a viscous multi-plate
all-wheel-drive system. Between 5 and 40% of the torque is
directed to the front wheels, depending on available traction and
power applied. Keeping it sub 50% stops the car feeling like a front driver
and maintains the rear driver feel. As long as traction is good,
only 5% of the engine power goes to the front. But as soon as the
road becomes slippery, wet or icy the front wheels are able to convey
up to 40% of the drive power to the road.
Porsche say that it designed the system to enhance handling mainly on dry road surfaces which is fair enough. Given the choice, there is little likelihood of most people choosing to go for a paddle in a monsoon in 420bhp of German go-kart. Porsche Stability Management, a traction control system, is fitted. It detects loss of grip and reduces instability by braking individual wheels and, if necessary, modifying engine power to some degree. It aims to reduce the chance of inadvertent bad behaviour induced by the knuckleheaded owner. But note, it reduces the chances, it does not kill the possibility. This is not a traction controlled 1.8 rep hatchback in which you can stick your foot to the floor and believe in God and computers. Do that and meet a hedgerow backwards at high speed very quickly.
The PSM can be turned off but who in their right mind would? This is 420bhp of tail end Charlie after all. With a little more speed and a few bends the steering, which seems slightly heavy and dead at slow speeds, comes to life. It still has a weighty feel that suggests it's doing its best to feed information back to the driver. You can feel the grip of the monstrous rubber band tyres as they warm through ready to try and check the massive torque's attempts to tug the back end around in a circle and spin the tyres into a gluey, shrivelled black mess.
Dedicated purists have insisted for generations that each new variation of the 911 has lost the steering dexterity of the previous version and that the steering has slowly but surely been dumbed down. They neglect to mention the fact that the spontaneous pirouette of the pendulum and ever more over powered back end has been calmed down too. Given its immense speed range, the fact that you can park it and still maintain something approaching stability at over 3 miles a minute is really quite remarkable. The fact that it steers with aplomb in between is fantastic.
The rubber on the Turbo is probably the lowest-profile you can
and probably the widest too. 225/40 tyres at the front and 295/30 rear on
18-inch hollow-spoke light-alloy wheels and with the 4 wheel drive gubbins it's actually surprising
that it rides at
all. In reality the suspension
is quite soft for this class of car and, combined with huge gumball tyres
and the intelligent 4 wheel drive system, it delivers truly massive grip.
Awe-inspiringly massive grip way beyond anything I could approach
on a public road (in the dry at least). And that's a good thing
because no matter how hard Porsche try, that engine location will eventually
come back to bite you in the ass if you get beyond its limits. On the race
track opposite lock and keeping the foot down may be perfect to drift tail
out around a wide open bend with only 100 yards of grass at danger
if you don't do it quick enough. On the road it's not a scenario you want
to put to the test.
|Though it would appear some people have|
On British roads of course there is no danger of ever getting to these limits is there? The real question is probably 'Can you warm the tyres up enough to extract maximum performance?' Still, even within its own limits it's still one of the finest handling cars in the universe and should you be racing other road-going cars, you pretty much know that it will defeat all comers around any set of given roads.
The size helps here. By comparison to its competitors it's a tiny, narrow little slip of a car. Normal road gaps can be arrowed through with as little thought as you would give in your Vectra whilst much of the big, wide hulking competition would have to slow down and edge through carefully, if at all.
Across the twisting narrow confines of the upper Lancashire moors where you would trade your Diablo and left testicle for a Mitsubishi Evo, the 911 Turbo brings the pride back to the supercar players. Here, down narrow, twisting ribbons of tarmac, sharpness of turn-in, adjustable grip to cope with the puddles of offside gravel, monster brakes and rip snorting acceleration are needed to cope with the hard, slow off-camber blind bends, pulling up steep inclines, jumping over cattle grids and diving down walled, bumpy, fast hillside lanes. The tarmac is thin and pock-marked and you need as much driven rubber on it as possible and as many millimetres of run-off space as the road can spare before tarmac becomes ditch becomes wall.
Agility is the name of this game and the Porsche does not have spades full. It has it in bucket loads. You arc flatly around the bends hugging the apex tightly, making micro adjustments to the wheel to hold the tightest line whilst gently caressing the throttle down. Push it smoothly down as the corner unwinds, unfolding the wheel as the 911 rockets forward, trying not to press that bit too hard and get the wheels spinning furiously and the back end wagging, before stamping hard on the brakes to scrub off 50mph of unwanted speed well before the next bend and turning carefully, smoothly in so as not to provoke the backend and irritate the traction control. Understeer? What's that then? Luckily the engine has huge torque and range as there is little time to start messing with too many gears and in somebody else's car a double-handed death grip on the wheel is preferable to steering one-handed.
Of course with all that power you could back off 10%, 20%, 30% or even 40% around the bends and still squash the opposition with a single nonchalant press of the accelerator. In fact you can probably coast around at Reliant Robin speed and still lose everybody else on the short straights alone.
On wider B and A roads where you can see around the bends and have room to manoeuvre, the Turbo gets even better but its size advantage over other Super cars is lost. Here it's not so much which is fastest, or which is grippiest, much more who has the biggest amount of bottle, and who can push it the furthest?
To really get the most out of this car, you are going to have to head
for the Track Day where you can play to merry abandon. It would be a shame
to reserve it for such days though, it's far too well fitted and kitted to
sit idling in your garage for weeks or months on end.
The active aerodynamics undoubtedly work, Porsche don't go in for gimmicks, it shows how advanced the car is and how backward our motorways still are, that you are already breaking the law by the time it moves. For the record, the 911 turbo excels with its drag factor of just 0.31 and has an extremely low lift factor front and rear.
Engine and Gearbox
Now, when I were a boy posters stuck to my bedroom wall testified the earth-shattering sub 5 second sprints to 60mph, 400bhp special preparation motors, 190+ top ends (that generally ran out around 160-175mph when a real customer car was tested). Imagine the 17 tonnes of hand built barn door of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage 400bhp. It claimed 190 mph. It claimed 0-60 in less than 5 seconds with 9mpg of leather-clad latent fury.
So, here is the Porsche - probably half the weight, half the size and 420bhp.
4.2 seconds to 60 mph. Yea, right, if your a pro drag racer and you
have finely honed lightning quick reactions and perfect pedal balance.
For most of us, working out the correct way to launch to maximum effect will be a few cases of not enough revs to break traction and a dip whilst the turbos spin up. Or then you will give it too much, overwhelming the traction control and four wheel drive and leaving the line in a barrage of smoke from all four wheels as you leave 200 yard darkies down the tarmac. First gear is short in an attempt to help out and you're grabbing frantically for seconds all too quickly, dumping the clutch again. The 911 explodes forward like you have just been fired out of a cannon. Smashing into third, the engine wails as it takes up drive once more. Your eyeballs depress to the back of your head, the skin on your face tightens as the wrinkles are smoothed out and a flap of skin forms around the back of your neck. Next gear and you're still accelerating like stink nose upwards. No time to look at the speedo but you know you are way beyond losing your licence (for a long time). I have no reason to dispute the figures or the remarkably##### conservative sounding 189mph (would 190mph not have sounded so much better?). The car is probably well capable of it but for me though, I am not afraid to admit that kind of performance is well beyond me. More useable for real roads is the foot down no change scenario where the Turbo is an outstanding performer in its flexibility when accelerating at all speeds, taking just 5 seconds to accelerate from 50-75 mph in top.
The new 911 Turbo makes a departure in engine philosophy from its predecessors. Previous models used turbo charged versions of air-cooled Carrera engines. is derived from the 3.6-liter engine used in the Porsche GT1 which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998.
Air enters through an inlet in the rear spoiler. The twin turbos then pump air into the engine up to a maximum of 26.8 psi, more than double the maximum boost in the previous Turbo. Dual intercoolers cool the incoming charge for best effect. The text books and makers claim two small turbos spin up and respond better than one big one. I don't really belive that, personally, as not only do you half the compressor size, but you also half the amount of gas pushing it around (why stop at two, why not have six diddy ones). What it does do though is allow optimal placement of the turbo in respect to the widely spaced intakes and exausts of the flat sixes halfs. The small volume of the intake duct and the short exhaust manifolds ensure a smooth, consistent response at all times. Intake air flows into the two compressors through one common air filter. From there the compressed air flows on through an intercooler in each of the wheel arches behind the rear wheels before merging again upstream of the electrically operated throttle butterfly (E-gas actuator). This process of re-cooling the compressed turbocharger air ensures a good cylinder charge and keeps the temperatures of the individual components to a minimum. The bypass valves controlling the power of the turbines are integrated in the turbine housings and are controlled by a joint stroke valve masterminded by the DME engine management. The bypass valves open at approximately 1.80 bar, a pressure reached at roughly 2700 rpm. Turbocharger pressure then decreases as engine speeds increase, amounting to approximately 1.65 bar at maximum output.
Every thing about the motor is just so, top quality top spec and top dollar too. Even the ignition leads are not your standard halfords part but heavily engineered pieces of German perfection. No sub standard Fiat or such like part bin cast offs are allowed to venture near unlike others we could mention. The cylinders and cylinder heads are cooled by water flowing across from the hot to the cold side, ensuring a perfectly homogeneous distribution of temperature. Discharge heat from the engine oil is fed into the coolant through an oil/water heat exchanger. The intake and outlet valves feature double valve springs in order to reliably close the valves even under the higher counter pressure generated within the engine.
It always struck me as strange that the Lotus Eprit was always slated
for being a supercar with only four cylinders despite its turbo induced
urge. And even the V8 turbo which stopped those complaints, still had accusations
of a boring sound leveled at it. Surely noise is a strange thing on which
to judge a supercar. The Porsches flat six only ever got half way
to having the required amount of cylinders for an alleged exotica, and
now with water cooling the famous ring a ding has gone too. Not that it
was ever really exotic. In these days of emmision limited cars governed
by sound Nazi's its not surprising that the 911 turbo, sounds a bit flat,
added to the fact a Turbos job is to take the energy out of the exaust
and impart it back to the engine before spewing it out via a cat, and it
is no suprise or real worry that the 911 sounds a little flat, its
only more suprising that others can still get away with anything beyond
a small wimpering burble. (TVR's tester must be stone deaf or maybe dead)
What really surprises is that the spine tingling note of the Boxster has
not found it way here.
The engine mates to a familiar transaxle gearbox filled with slightly superflous six gears, five would probably be enough in light of the mid range stomp, but six looks better on the specification sheet. Auto ( sorry tiptronic S ) is available with 5 speeds but why would you want to dilute/pollute the total driving experiance of this car with it. This five speed automatic transmission with an additional manual shift function by means of switches on the steering wheel is designed specifically for the power of the turbocharged engine. The five shift programs normally integrated in the electronic transmission management have been replaced on the Turbo by individual shift points adjusting infinitely to the driver's style of motoring and the route he is taking.
Who cares the manual changes with a lovely mechanical thud with only a slight rubbery bushiness to contend with. Its not super slick lightweight like your grannies Yaris, but instead reminds you that changing brings about bombastic engine response. Considering the distance from shifter to gearbox the only surprise is that it changes this well at all.
All this hints at the beast lurking about beneath your right foot and it is there. But throttle response is fairly soft and muted unless provoked and with the perfectly behaving motor its possible to punt around without major trauma. Though bear in mind the 911 can out run the vast majority of cars without even awakening the turbos from their non boosting slumber.
Looking through the hole at the back that purports to be the service entrance, not that most owners will ever go there, and some probably dont even know the engine lurks under there, you have to wonder how you service such a beast. Perhaps Porsche dealers employ rafts of small orphan children with nimble little hands to do all bar change the oil and filter, or maybe very small midgets with long arms. Or maybe they just drop the engine out and charge you £100 per hour for the weeklong pleasure of changing the plugs.
A by product of the 911 design was it always had a nice big empty crumple zone upfront with no engine and gearbox to get squashed back through your legs. I doubt even the very smart germans of the sixties foresaw the new milleniums safety regulations, so they got lucky on that front. Modern safety featuresas required by law are in place, but by the time you reach 4th or 5th gear your safety and survival are pretty much in the lap of the gods anyway.
Big 13-inch rotors and four-piston calipers. pull you up within 117 feet from 60mph, so if your not tailending at high speed the most likely point for any impact is from the rear. Still not good enough As an option, Porsche's Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) are available for the 911 Turbo . This ceramic composite brake technology to quote Porsche sets entirely new standards in terms of response, fading free stability, weight, and service life, and probably brake pad cost too.
If it were mine the first extras I would spring for would be the worlds greatest collection of Radar detectors, Blockers , Reflectors, Deflectors and voodoo dolls, False plates and a Balaclava as the things probably at most threat are your licence and your liberty, though it would be fun whilst it lasted.
As a posing motor the 911 turbo is a slight disappointment, After all it looks to all intents and purposes, like a 911, everybody recognises it, but its recognition is so wide spread that it attracts only a few side ways glances and the attention of few drooling 14 year olds. Its not a head turning, crowd stopper like a Diablo, or a Modena, and barely creates anymore fuss than an Imprezza or an Evo would, you may decide that is a straight waste of £70,000 if posing is your bag, but for me it is actually a positive point for the car, yes its a Super Super Super car, but its presence seems almost benign, and it a damn sight less worrying than parking most exotica. Most people just seem to breeze by with a sort of nonchalent, oh theres another 911 kind of attitude.
As a super car it is difficult to see a better bet. Yes there are more stunning, more exotic lookers, but I dont think any can match the 911 turbo for day to day useage. Im not going to say my granny could drive this, she could not. In fact I would not actually let her drive a dodgem. But most people could manage to pilot it about without to much difficulty. And that is a lot more than you can say for most other supercars. You have decent rearward vision, and dont have to sit on the footplate to reverse it. Its not so huge that it takes up 2 parking spaces and it wont play up in traffic. Porsche build quality and reliabilty if serviced correctly is legendary. It is the super car that wont let you down at embarrasing moments by refusing to start. You could conceivable commute in this supercar, but you would be better off in your E Class.
At £90,000 some would argue that it has few real competitors in its price bracket. But if you can afford £90K and the associated running costs, it would not kill you to stretch into Ferrari money. And quite a raft of Jap super technos are available more cheaply. But a Porsche man would not consider them anyway and the Ferrari is probably just to dodgy an investment to drive on a regular basis. ( Like Domestos and Bugs, Mileage kills Ferrari residuals, any mileage, DEAD )
For some reason every Supercar test on earth always seems to have the Porsche the winner in the fuel economy stake and give it a couple of brownie points for that, The combined fuel consumption figure is over 20mpg, a respectable 21.9mpg in fact. But we all know how false they are dont we. The new 911 Turbo is 18 per cent more economical than its predecessor. Exhaust emissions have also been reduced by 13 per cent on average, enabling the 911 Turbo to fulfil the latest Euro 3 and the US LEV standard with ease.
But come on if we were spending £90,000+ on a car do we really care how much it does to the gallon, what we care about is range of the tank, and getting from one place to another without constant fuel stops. The Porsche goobles down a tankful with depressing regualrity and much over 200miles between stops would be pushing it a little. If you can manage more than 20mpg, then you have the self restraint of a buddist monk, and should swop me for my Volvo estate, which would be far more suitable for you.
Downloads for Windows (not NT)
911 Evolution Screen Saver
Porsche Desktop Theme
Porsche 911 Low Res
Porsche 911 Hi Res
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