By Thomas Shambler
Super-fast and quick around corners, the new Porsche Turbo S could be the most capable supercar on the road today
It must be daunting working for the Porsche engineering department. Especially so in the 911 division. Not only is it one of the most-loved cars ever produced, having adorned hundreds of thousands of bedroom walls throughout its history, but every few years it must be updated. And it's not like you can just stick a faster engine under the hood each time - that would produce a more hard-core ride and additional noise. No, any engineer who is tasked with improving a car like the 911 (let alone the granddaddy of the line, the Turbo S) must not just make it faster, but all-round better.
Given the 911's proclivity to be pretty stellar all-round anyway, this is no easy task. Give it too much 'oomph' and you risk going in to GT3 territory. And while Turbo drivers do still want a good amount of power under the hood, a trip to the golf course need not involve hypercar levels of acceleration.
That said, the boffs at Porsche's engineering department did give it a beefier engine. Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show where the new Turbo S was unveiled, Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche North America, admitted, "We've added a bit of horsepower to the car, up to 580hp for the Turbo S model, and 540hp for the regular". Just enough to be a tad faster from 0-100 (the Turbo S does in in just 2.9 seconds) with a top speed of 330kph.
"The 911 is an icon of the brand, and the Turbo model is at the top of that," said Zellmer. It's no surprise then that the Turbo S looks much the same as its previous model. You get a few of the new visual changes from the revised 911, including 3D head and taillights and a neater rear compartment, but the main design difference is the width (it's wider, but unless you're a die-hard Porsche fan not big enough to notice).
That extra width comes in to play in the handling, "both cars have rear-wheel steering which makes that car feel incredible to drive, especially in tight corners," says Zellmer. At speeds above 75kph the rear wheels start to turn in the same direction as the fronts, adding to high-speed stability.
Practically, it also removes almost half a metre of the Turbo S's turning circle. The Turbo S receives Porsche's Sport Chrono Package as standard, giving drivers a knob on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Twist it to the right, and you go from normal to sport+ modes, which gives you every available bit of grunt the car can muster.
The new Turbo S also comes with some new toys inside the cabin, including "a new Porsche communication system, that comes with Apple Airplay, Google Maps, and everything else that we are used to seeing in our connected world, now in the car."
The newly developed 'infotainment' system will connect to your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi. Once paired, you'll even be able to take control of certain in-car settings using your phone – like the Bose sound system.
So did the Porsche design department do enough to make the Turbo S different enough to warrant its success? Well, it's a little bit faster and better in the corners. Just as fun to drive as before, and comes with a bevy of techy features that – if things like that matter to you – will make your drive that little bit easier.
Oh, and there's also a convertible version. Porsche has certainly succeeded in producing a worthy successor to the Turbo S, but now the engineering department face an even bigger problem; how to make it better next time.
One of the best cars the world has seen. It gives an emotional driving experience, a true feast for the senses. A true everyday supercar, you can take it to the track, to the grocery store, drop the kids to school, and if you feel upbeat, at the lights you can pretty much beat any car on the planet until the next set of lights. Not to mention, the Turbo S will do a lap around the industry-standard Nurburgring in 7 minutes 18 seconds, some two seconds faster than the track-biased GT3 RS, reveals a lot about the competition within Porsche, too. The 911 Turbo S is fast.