There are supercars and then there is the Porsche 911- a car that blends supercar performance with everyday practicality. The current 911 range is so huge that you can choose everything from the base 400bhp 911 Carrera to the mental Turbo S and hardcore GT3 and GT3 RS. Now, every single Porsche 911 barring the GT3 range is turbocharged. You might as well go for the full monty Turbo S – which, in my mind, is the ultimate supercar.
Let’s start from the back where there is a ‘3.8 litre flax six engine hung’ behind the rear axle, sending power to all four wheels via a 7 speed dual clutch automatic. The Turbo S makes about 30bhp more than the regular 911 Turbo. We should thank the twin turbochargers, which are running 1.2 bar of boost. It can also momentarily spike to 1.4bar for about 20 seconds for a 750Nm overboost. The 911 Turbo S is sold only with a 7 speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) automatic, which is perfect for the car. Not only is it fast and efficient, it but also prevents engine and powertrain damage from overrevving. It also lets you keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times and concentrate on the driving which considering the power on tap, is very thoughtful. The gearbox in Sport Plus, Launch control enabled, throttle up to 5000rpm, take your foot off the brakes, the Turbo S shoots forward like you wouldn’t believe. There isn’t any wheelspin or drama. we should thank the clever all wheel drive and electronics for that. With 552bhp and a 7200 rpm rev limit, Porsche reckons the 911 Turbo S does 0-100kmph in 3.1 seconds. But, several independent roadtesters have managed to shave off nearly two-tenths of that time, which if you think about it is, almost hyper-car territory.
There is a hint of lag when you prod the throttle, but from 2100rpm all the way up, it remains in full boost. Everything turns into a blur and you get to dizzying speeds in no time at all. The long wheelbase of the 991 generation coupled with the wider track makes it more reassuring than the 997. The active aero extends the front chin spoiler and rear wing in three stages, which Porsche claims provides 132kg of downforce at 300kmph. The charismatic flat six sound is distinctive and a far cry from the traditional turbo V6s and angry V8s in most supercars.
Then, this is the way a 911 corners. Those unfamiliar with the 911’s characteristic handling will tell you how much the front end becomes light and the car feels it’s about to understeer when you power out of a corner. But, that’s not the way to drive a 911 with its 60 percent rear weight bias. Approaching a corner near the limit, you first need to transfer the weight onto the front wheels, trail braking and then past the apex, you feed the throttle and power out with the immense traction available. And as if the mechanicals aren’t good enough, Porsche has sprinkled it with electronic aids like no other. There is PTM (Porsche Traction Management) which intervenes when the all wheel drive runs out of talent, PTM (Porsche torque vectoring) which tugs you closer to apex as you speed up, PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control) which stiffens the hydraulic antiroll bars and Active engine mounts for the best balance between NVH and precision. The absolute must-have on any Porsche is the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) with adaptive damping control. This gives you prodigious grip at high speeds, yet it manages a firm yet comfortable ride at slow speeds.
Old-school Porsche enthusiasts might lament the demise of the hydraulic power steering with this generation of 911, but the truth is, the electric power-steering is so well calibrated, you don’t really miss out on anything. The 245/35 profile front and 305/30 rear tyres are mounted on 20 inch Turbo S rims with central lock nuts. Brak- ing is the courtesy of carbon ceramic discs with 410mm front and 390mm rear diameter that are standard with the optional chrono pack. Not only do they offer ferocious braking power, but also there is zero fade and almost no brake dust to clean later.
The red and black interiors are exclusive to the 911 Turbo S and it is a fantastic place to be. Each and everything is blessed with quality; the controls fall to hand easily and those optional sports seats are so comfortable. The meaty steering wheel is similar to the 997 and the tachometer in true Porsche tradition, is in the centre of the instrument binnacle. If we ever have a complaint, it is with the reverse camera being poor coming up with grainy images that are unacceptable in a car that costs over Rs.3 crores. The car we drove had the optional Porsche Exclusive tail lamps in clear glass look, and a milled aluminium fuel filler cap along with the black roof and transparent moonroof.
Much has been said about its everyday usability, and I don’t want to go there once again. But it must be said, the good all round visibility and the fact that the 911 doesn’t scrape on the same speed bump where my Civic does is proof enough. And it wasn’t intimidating to drive on congested roads or crawl in traffic either. Account for the wide rear arches which are 85mm further out than the front wings and you are fine. Porsche’s clever rear wheel steering which turns the rear wheel upto 2.8 degrees in the opposite direction to the front wheels under 50kmph helps bring the turning circle down too. Above 80kmph, the system also turns the rear wheel up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels to aid stability. This also creates the impression of a variable wheelbase which is surreal and makes the car even more usable.
Italian rivals like the Huracan and 488 GTB are much more focused on being supercars, and they are nowhere as practical as the 911 Turbo S. The slightly cheaper Nissan GTR can match it on cornering speeds, but it doesn’t convey the same sense of occasion as you get when driving a Porsche 911. Now, for Rs.3.2 crores, the 911 Turbo S may seem like a lot of money. But, considering the performance and the technology that has gone into the car, it is surely the bargain of the century. The fact is that you can use this super-car almost every day.