FIRST DRIVE | New 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S is violently quick
This week the SSC Tuatara was officially crowned as the fastest production car on the planet. During an adjudicated high-speed run in Las Vegas, Nevada, the American creation clocked 331.15mph (532.93km/h) with British racer Oliver Webb at the helm.
This is a considerable margin over the 304.77mph (490.47km/h) record established by a modified Bugatti Chiron in August 2019. Aside from their specialised aerodynamic constitutions, these specimens are endowed with hardware that borders on nuclear to enable such devastating velocities.
The SSC uses a twin-turbocharged, 5.9-litre V8 while its German-engineered French rival has a 16-cylinder mill with four turbochargers and an 8.0-litre displacement.
What does any of this have to do with the Porsche 911 (992) Turbo S featured here this week? At first glance, not much: all fast cars, yes, but at different levels. The Stuttgart coupé, by contrast to those ultra-exotic wares, is relatively modest and plays in a different category altogether. Its on-paper top speed of 330km/h might seem pedestrian in comparison.
But giving some consideration to its 0-100km/h time brings an interesting perspective to the discussion. It will dispatch the run in a claimed 2.7 seconds. A standard Chiron, with nearly thrice the amount of cylinders, does it in 2.4 seconds.
While SSC has yet to release the 0-100km/h time for their car, well-established titles cited 2.7 seconds. We e-mailed their press spokesperson but did not receive a response by the time of deadline.
The point is: this sub-three-second Turbo S will, for many, be the closest thing to the realm of hyper-car performance. Even though it will leave you with mild bouts of whiplash if you abuse the launch control function, it remains as user-friendly as a standard Carrera when you are not exploiting the acceleration credentials.
Resisting that might prove to be difficult, admittedly. The kilometre-shredding prowess of the car poses a fine alternative to air travel if a rapid cross-country jaunt is on your agenda. Its ability to overtake slow-moving vehicular obstructions in eye-blinking spurts never ceases to amaze.
How was all this achieved? At the core of it all is a 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged, flat-six engine good for 478kW and a sizable 800Nm: 51kW and 50Nm more than the outgoing car. The eight-speed, double-clutch transmission scythes through ratios with unfettered slickness when left to its own devices. In manual mode, it will hang onto cogs until you grab the next one, rather than being intrusive and initiating the upshift.
The first thing you notice from behind the wheel is how its hips fill the field of vision in the side mirrors. According to the brand, this is the widest production 911 to date, with a 45mm greater girth at the front and a 20mm increase at the rear, compared to the old Turbo S.
This visual impression of being planted firmly to the bitumen is complemented by the actual benefit of all-wheel drive. The system can send up to 500Nm to the front axle, and this is where the efficacy (and violence) of that launch control comes into play. The driver can sense those wheels claw down for grip. Without a hint of slippage, the Turbo S grafts down and blasts ahead, with a force that knocks heads into seats every time.
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) discs feature at the front, with 10-piston fixed callipers, a first for the 911. Four-piston callipers serve at the back. Also a first, says Porsche, is the adoption of mixed tyres in two different sizes: 20-inch at the front (255/35) and 21-inch (315/30) at the rear.
Those anchors are commensurately robust, with a firm pedal modulation that imbued confidence on the downhill sections of our favourite Western Cape passes, where obstacles like baboons like to surprise motorists. Acoustically, the boosted Turbo S expectedly lacks the truculent, normally-aspirated battle-cry of a GT3.
It has its own rambunctious notes, amplified by an exhaust system with adjustable flaps. Speaking of adjustable, air flaps at the nose of the 911 function automatically to aid cooling, in tandem with the retracting rear wing which also has benefits when an abrupt slow-down is required.
On the inside, occupants are greeted by the same, digital-intensive layout ushered in by the 992 Carrera in 2019. There are Turbo-specific elements, like the diagonal stitching echoing a hallmark of the first ever 911 Turbo from the 930 series.
Offering pace nearing the level of the hyper-car genre and daily usability easily on par with the most polished grand tourers, the 911 Turbo S is a difficult act to beat. Until the next one arrives – as Porsche proudly asserts in their advertisement.
Porsche 911 Turbo pricing kicks off at R3,339,000. The Turbo S model the author drove comes in at R3,849,00.