First Drive: 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo review
This is a turbocharged 992-generation Porsche 911. A bit like the Carrera 2, or the Carrera S, or the Carrera 4S, Turbo S... Hmm, better be a bit more specific. At the moment the top of the range 992 911 is the Turbo S, there is a GT3 on its way, but it isn’t here yet. Just below the Turbo S, sits the Turbo. Simple innit?
While the GT cars are the more raucous track-ready machines, the Turbos are supposed to be a bit more easy to live with, while still being absolutely, heroically, fast. The Turbo isn't quite as bonkers fast as the Turbo S, but at £20,000 less it is perhaps the more logical choice.
- Astonishingly fast
- Once you get used to it, a very playful chassis
- Power delivery
We don't like
- Plasticky paddles
- Dash layout feels like a bit of an afterthought
- Loss of old gearstick
It's a Porsche 911 Turbo. It takes the 992 iteration of the 911's famous shape and adds a big wing to the back – one that deploys upward over certain speeds or when you stick the car in Sport+ mode, but other than that there's really not a lot else to say. The 992 is a big car – not as big as a Taycan, but still taking up a lot of the road – but manages to feel not so bad when on the road. Even in this left-hand-drive German model I don't feel too stuffed into the Berkshire hedgerows as I blat along. That's in part thanks to some surprisingly small A-pillers, which help to give the cabin a more open and airy feel. The 992's bumpers both front and back have been given what can only be described as a bit more meat and it's running on some heavy duty 20/21-inch rims.
Performance and Handling
The half-fat Turbo comes with a measly 580PS (427kW) and 750Nm (553lb ft) of torque, that’s a full 70PS and 50Nm shy of the Turbo S. That means its sprint to 62mph is a massive 0.1 seconds slower than the S (at 2.8 seconds) during which time you could have been doing many, many things.
Sarcasm aside, the ‘standard’ Turbo is a bonkers fast car. To put this in context, 750Nm ismore torque than a Ferrari 812 Superfast. On the road all that torque is instantly clear. We drove the car on a day where the gauge was registering -1C to begin with, and it’s safe to say we had to tread carefully around the right pedal. Even later in the day when it had warmed up to a balmy 8C, the Turbo was still having trouble putting everything down.
Shove your foot to the floor when the car is not ready for it and you can expect a properwrestle on your hands. The 3.7-litre flat-six is fast to pickup, without any real hint of lag, which means you have to have your whits about you. Even with the all-wheel-drive system in full flow 770Nm is an awful lot of torque to be mopping up. Once you gather it all together (the car and your brain that is) the speed is addictive, hoovering up the landscape with alarming haste. You really do need a few full bore stabs at the throttle before you should consider a corner, just to get used to this sheer unfettered power being thrown at the road. But point it at a corner and you will have fun. There is understeer if you hurl it too hard into the corner, but a boot of that right foot, especially when you have everything in Sport or Sport+, will rectify that, and then very swiftly over-rectify the problem. Minor fishtailing is not uncommon, but not in a scary unpredictable way, you know what the Turbo
wants to do to you at all times.
The Turbo drops some things from the S, like the active anti-roll bars and carbon ceramic discs, but keeps the PDK eight-speed gearbox, natty four-wheel-steering and heavily rear-biased AWD system. That means that the Turbo is by no means slow, in fact it is one of the most brain-warpingly fast petrol-powered cars we’ve driven. The way it delivers its power is just wonderful, hitting full boost at around 3,000rpm and then just going like the proverbial unstoppable force until around 7,000rpm, at which point you and Porsche’s excellent PDK ‘box will start the process all over again. Steering is excellent, heavy but full of communication and rapid as anything, which is useful when the Turbo is as willing to be sideways as it is. Ride in higher settings gets jarring on British roads, but spend a few minutes in the Individual menus and you can set the Turbo to be a delight. Or if you don’t quite fancy a wrestle then in Normal mode it will help you along with much less sweat, still leaving your stomach somewhere in the engine bay each time you floor it.
The 992 interior really is a step forward for Porsche design. Elements that have been shared from Taycan to 911 are excellent, like the digital dials on the dash and the infotainment system. The centre console now looks a bit space age, with the design of the gear controls, that now seem to nestle in a small boat amid the ocean of console, is a lovely touch. Perhaps the loss of a proper gearstick, and the old 911’s wonderful manual stick mode (a proper bash it back for up and forward for down system) is the only real downside to the upgrade, but everything else makes Porsche’s old systems feel, well, a bit old.
The dash still features a single analogue dial in the middle, a lovely little touch, but has four customisable dials flanking it in pairs. These are excellent and easy to read, although the widest pair seem completely obscured behind the wheel, making them at times pretty much useless. Porsche’s paddles are the only other drawback, I love the design itself, a little T-shaped paddle to pull, but they feel a bit cheap to the finger. When there are SUVs out there with better paddles you know Porsche probably needs to do some work.
That is nit-picking though. The 992’s interior is a lovely place to be, especially in the shade of deep bluey grey that our test car came in (Graphite Blue, we highly recommend it) and Porsche’s continued loyalty to thin-rimmed completely circular wheels gets our vote.
Technology and Features
Unlike many Porsche products, the Turbo comes relatively well-specced as standard. It’s £156,000 as standard and our German registered left-hand-drive test car came in at a smidge over £180,000. Climate control, 14-way adjustable sports seats, emergency brake assist, keyless go (surprisingly not entry), reversing camera, cruise control, electric mirrors, those natty extra dials, the 10.9-inch touchscreen, digital radio, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, Bose speakers and Sat-Nav all come as standard.
In fact the only real extra features on our test car were the top-down parking camera, adaptive cruise control, heated seats and the smoking package (it’s a German car after all).
This is a very fast car. In fact it is one of the fastest cars we’ve ever driven, and it is an absolute hoot once you’ve gotten used to it. Power delivery is wonderful, swelling as the dial whips around toward 7k, and the feel you get from the chassis is excellent. It will even calm right down for the daily commute with the power lurking just below the surface somehow completely disguised as it trickles through town. The sound of the flat-six is still great even with the turbochargers slightly masking its real top end, and you really wouldn’t miss the ceramic brakes.
Which does make me wonder whether you really do need the Turbo S at all, or if the real gem of the 992 range is the one just below. In fact, you could buy the Turbo AND a Fiesta ST for the price of an S. Makes you think.
|Engine||3.7-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six|
|Power||580PS (427kW) @ 6,700rpm|
|Torque||750Nm (553lb ft) @ 5,000rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive|
Reviewed by Ben Miles