FIRST DRIVE: Porsche 911 Turbo S is a ‘hypercar’ you can use everyday
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CAPE TOWN - There are fast cars, then there's the Porsche 911 Turbo S.
I say this because I've had the opportunity to test fast cars in the past, cars such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris and Aston Martins, but none that have I have experienced have truly felt as fast as the new 911 Turbo S feels in the hands.
From a standstill, it's capable of accelerating to 100km/h in just 2.7 seconds. Keep your right foot flat on the loud pedal and it will cover the quarter-mile in just 10.2 seconds. Carry on chasing the sunset and it will top out at 330km/h without a fuss.
This isn't some wild-eyed, ill-mannered hypercar that's going to spit you off the road and into an embankment the moment you try and have some fun either, no no, this is a car that's as easy to drive as a Golf GTI yet it's able to keep cars like Porsche's own 918 Spyder honest from a dig.
What's so special about the Porsche 911 Turbo?
It began in 1974 when Porsche presented the original 911 Turbo at the Paris Motor Show. Until that point, the use of highly-strung turbocharged engines in sportscars for the road was unheard of. In fact, SAAB were the only ones really pushing turbos in road cars back then. The original 911 Turbo formula proved a success, bringing (relative) reliability and a new experience to the performance motoring scene. After all, screaming V12s and V8s were not for everyone.
Over the years the Turbo has evolved in a similar vein as the 911 itself, very slowly, but that's a good thing as it's given Porsche engineers the time to really build something special. This isn't to say that the latest 911 Turbo S is old-fashioned, as it's quite the opposite in terms of the high-tech nature of the car. In fact, the whole time driving the car I couldn't help but think that this is what the 959 must have felt like to drive back in the 1990s.
What do you get in the 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S?
For me, the main thing about the 911 Turbo S is the speed. It does everything a regular Carerra will do, just amplified, and the speed is so overwhelming at times that you literally feel the blood draining from your head as it accelerates.
Here are the key variables that come together to make the 911 Turbo S feel so special:
* It's the most powerful 911 engine in the current range, displacing 3.8-litres and with two VTG turbochargers and 478 kW on tap. Torque is now up to 800Nm but it feels more like 1000Nm when you climb on the accelerator with Sport Response engaged.
* Grunt is sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed PDK that's been adapted to take the extra force. With launch-control engaged it took 2.7 seconds to reach 100km/h and just 8.9 seconds to reach 200km/h before topping out at 330km/h in 6th gear.
* Not only is it the widest production 911 Porsche has ever built, but the car also rides on the largest wheel package ever fitted to a 911 Turbo S. At the back you get 21-inch wheels and tyres while the front is fitted with a 20-inch combo.
* It's also the first Porsche 911 to receive 10-piston Porsche Ceramic brakes as standard (on the front axle) to ensure brutal stopping power for both the road and the track.
* You can spec the car with a Porsche Active Stability Management pack that lowers it a further 10mm and there are standard-fit active aerodynamics front and rear that deploy at different speeds to keep the car planted.
What's the new Porsche 911 Turbo S like to drive?
Inviting is the word that springs to mind when I think of the latest 911 Turbo S.
On approach, it looks purposeful and you can see that it's the hot version of the 911 just by looking at it but it doesn't scream and shout at you in the way a GT3 RS does.
Even when you open the door and slink into the multi-adjustable electric leather seat, the whole vehicle just cocoons around you and you get this wonderful view out of the cabin while the small steering falls gently at hand. You get comfortable very quickly once on the move and thanks to the variety of driving modes on offer, you'd think you were in a regular Carerra if you just left it in Normal mode and went about your day.
The gearbox worked well in traffic too, as PDK usually does, and when negotiating the confines of the city it proved easy and less cumbersome than I expected thanks to a front-axle lift kit and generally easy to place dimensions.
Dial it up, however, into Sport Plus and it becomes a completely different creature as the exhaust flaps open up, the aero flaps deploy and the car lowers itself in a bid to give you maximum attack capability.
I tried out the launch control and to say it went sub-three seconds to 100km/h is an understatement as I could feel the G forces tugging away at my body. It's brutal on launch but not in a bad way or one that makes you yearn for more mechanical sympathy, but in a way that's more akin to electric cars where it just hooks up and shoots off.
Through the twisting Franschoek Pass and Helshoogte Pass the car proved absolutely menacing and engaging at the same time. You simply clip the corner's apex and stand on the accelerator and feel the confidence build in you as the vehicle shuffles power around to slingshot you faster and faster out of each and every bend.
It's mind-boggling how quickly you can cover ground in the 911 Turbo S and it's even more mind-boggling that you can go this quickly in a car that's as comfortable as a Panamera and with the air-conditioning on and with a thumping Bose stereo to keep you company.
Is the Porsche 911 Turbo S worth the money?
Look, it's not cheap and we didn't expect it to be considering the levels of performance on offer here. You're looking at a car that's as fast as the hypercars we used to read about only half a decade ago and this car isn't even electrified yet. It's a combination of brute force and handling capability that seemingly shouldn't pair well together considering the age-old joke that the 911's engine is fitted in the wrong place, to begin with. But, make no jokes about the new 911 Turbo S as it's a genuinely majestic car that won't disappoint you no matter what your mood may be.
Purists will tell you the 911 GT3 RS is still the 911 to have in your garage, but I'd rather have the 911 Turbo S as I would be able to use and enjoy it every day, not just on that odd occasion where there's space to let those GT3 sorts of cars loose.
The 911 Turbo S then, in my opinion, is worth every penny and if you can afford it, go drive it and you'll see what I'm on about. Nothing will feel as fast or as solid ever again...
Prices start at R3 339 000 for the standard Turbo and extend to R4 049 000 for the range-topping Turbo S Cabriolet.