2017 Porsche 911 Turbo & Turbo S

Words: Carl S. Cunanan    Photos: Porsche Press

The 911 Turbo was insane. Technology tamed it, made it versatile. Then Porsche remembered how much fun insane can be.

Sometimes it is easy to begin talking about a car. When there is really only one serious point to the thing, for example, or when it is so purposefully-directed it is almost bland in spite of marketing word to the contrary. With the Porsche 911 it is pretty hard to figure out where to start because, quite frankly, there are several pretty cool directions in which to begin. Notice that I said 911. I didn’t say new, I didn’t say turbo. For one, that statement can be used for just about all iterations of that car. For the one we just tested, the new 911 Turbo, the breadth of choice almost stupefies you into inaction.

The new 911s take the internal numbering of 991.2 to differentiate from the current/outgoing models. The new Turbos drive, point and rotate around corners in a way that should be much more familiar to purists. A wonderful blend of dynamism, protective technology and usability.

When I came back from running the new 911 Turbo on the mythic Kyalami race circuit in South Africa, some seriously intense enthusiasts and collectors picked my brains. After hearing what I had to say, the response was “well, it seems like Porsche really listened to the enthusiasts.” I had said that you could get a deeper angle of drift on the new cars before the safety systems come in and bring you back onto a straight line (assuming they have calculated that you know what you are doing.) I am comparing this to two different cars, the also-new 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S we ran on the same corners and the previous 911 Turbos which we have run both in the wet and the dry on different circuits around the world. The new 911 Turbo and Turbo S feel light and frisky of tail, almost scarily so if you had to suddenly take off and chase a 911 GT3 RS you are supposed to be trailing because you couldn’t get the cameras sorted as I did.

The Playground: Kyalami GP Circuit

Let’s clarify something. Porsche calls this car the new generation 911 but most people are now calling it the 991.2 to differentiate it from the current (outgoing) 991. You need that differentiation because the cars are as perplexingly similar as they are different. So this new 991.2 in Turbo or Turbo S form feels light and frisky even with the massive tires warmed up, far more so than the Carrera 4 which also has turbos and power to all the wheels. Running the Carrera 4s (and Carrera 4Ss) through the same curves at relatively similar speeds gave the secure comfy feeling you usually get from the 4s. You feel planted and in control. With the Turbos (and Turbo Ss) everything seems a little edgier even if you aren’t necessarily running the corners insanely hard. Having said that, yes your entry speed into that corner may be a bit higher but all variants would end the long straight (actually not a straight but you can treat it as such, aren’t aerodynamics great!) healthily over 200kph. It was the set of curves after that which had the Turbo start getting its tail out (beginning at around 120kph as you are turning on a downhill right where you want to keep speeds up as you start going uphill next) and feeling more flickable. Since both cars are all wheel then this is mostly down to how they are tuned and tamed. Which bring the point many will discuss, why do you call it a Turbo when all of them are now turbocharged? Is there a difference? The answer is a big smiling, “oh, yeah.”

Tails on the Turbos have always gotten attention. You may think they are abhorrent additions, but then look back at the whale tails on the 930 Turbos. And with the ability to straighten out curves, there is no denying that the aero works.

The new Turbo and Turbo S both have increases of 20 hp ending up with 540 and 580 respectively. This simple number seriously understates the way the power now comes into play and how usable it has become not just in terms of regular driving but more importantly, in terms of how it affects good hard driving. The S has new turbochargers with a larger compressor. There is also something called Dynamic Boost, which sounds awesome but actually helps to smoothen out power delivery, which just makes the awesome power delivery smoother and kind of more like normal aspiration. Technically it shortens the time for turbo engines to react to load alterations (being on the gas and off). What happens is that after braking on a bend, when you hit the gas (ok, you really should be rolling onto the gas pedal smoothly) the engine acts more immediately as opposed to you feeling the need for the turbo to spool up to enough pressure to boost. With the new system, pressure is maintained. Previously, the engine controller would close the throttle valve as you let off the gas when you braked. Older drivers would counter this by still being on the gas or blipping the throttle while switching gears and braking at the same time. Remember that this means commanding three pedals, a steering wheel and a gearshift and you only have four usable appendages available. The Dynamic Boost system keeps the throttle valve open and instead interrupts the fuel supply. This allows the turbocharger to continue to generate pressure, which is then ready once you roll back on the gas. The system is always active, but more pronounced when you choose the sport modes.

Porsche Traction Management has also been developed to further enhance the fun. A higher friction coefficient in the clutch plates for all wheel drive allows more precise control and distribution of power.

Speaking of choosing modes, the Sport Chrono Package settings are now able to be commanded via a small round controller mounted to the steering wheel. This isn’t an integrated module that seamlessly blends with the three-spoke wheel, it is visually a separate command unit which makes it look like a racecar addition. This allows the main wheel to remain refreshingly uncluttered with buttons and switches while still keeping the mode choice ability at your fingertips. In previous 911s these choices were made with switches on the dash then with those on the console. Porsche probably thought you shouldn’t be fiddling while driving and you should learn to commit (something 930 Turbo drivers often learned the hard way). You can choose between Normal, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual (customizable) modes by turning a bezel. Individual allows you to set as desired settings such as PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), auto stop-start, front spoiler and rear wing and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, depending on which boxes you have checked on your purchase order. In the middle of this circular bezel sits what Porsche calls the Sport Response and what we call the Joy button. It kicks the car to full power for twenty seconds, with engine and transmission adjusting for max responsiveness. The PDK brings you into a gear that in turn puts your revs in optimal range (they say between 3000 and 6000) and goes into a special gear shift map that delays upshifts. Ignition angle is retarded, and the turbocharger blades close using the Variable Turbine Geometry system. The throttle valve opens a bit, which increases flow and brings up the rotation speed of the turbocharger so that when the accelerator is pushed, reaction is much quicker and with much more boost behind it. As we said, the joy button.

The new steering wheel is 918-inspired. It looks clean and racy, but certain warning lights will appear in the spokes as needed.

Behind the steering wheel are the PDK paddles, which, just like the car itself, are both similar and different. PDK now shifts the other way. The shifting direction of the 911 Turbos has been reversed if you choose to work manually, making it similar to what happens in the 911 GT3, the 911 GT3 RS and in the race cars. Pressing the shift lever forwards downshifts, pulling back upshifts. The system prevents automatic upshifts if you are in manual mode, so over-revving this expensively beautiful six-cylinder is your responsibility. It will, though, hit the rev limiter, so you will hear it when you need to pull the paddle.

Porsche Stability Management, in Porsche’s words, “now enables greater dynamism at the push of a button.” Basically, you can get more sideways. When you hit the PSM button (this activation is independent of the Sports Plus mode of the Sport Chrono Package) on the center console, you activate the “exceptionally sporty” PSM Sport Mode. This “permits much larger yaw movements along the vertical axis and more slip at the drive wheels.” So you can get more drift. This is what the enthusiasts say they were listened to about. You can rotate the car around corners more like the old (and dangerously-swingy) 911s in a pretty controlled and predictable manner (Porsche stresses: ON RACETRACKS) but PSM is still ready to activate and assist in extreme cases. Fun with a safety net.

The new Turbos, with or without the S, bring things together in a package that goes far further that the numbers of horsepower increases. They are so usable and comfortable (relatively) that some people consider them more Grand Touring than Sports, yet they are as quick and dynamic as you would really ever want. On the one hand, Porsche is throwing everything into the Turbos that they can, the intelligent PTM all-wheel drive, rear axle steering, adaptive aerodynamics, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus. The S gets the ceramic brakes and the PDCC roll stabilization and more in addition. All this can make these cars extremely point-and-shoot, which is probably best given how much power they are able to put down, and more importantly how much of that power is now really truly usable in so many different situations, angles and indeed corners. Yet this new generation of 991 (the 991.2) may actually be more tied to the past than the 911 it replaces (the 991). We recently drove all generations of the 911 Turbo in sequence, from the mighty, crazy 930 turbo onwards, and they were all amazing. As they grew, though, they got both more powerful but at the same time more tame. There are cases where some true driving enthusiasts that sold their 997s for the 991s now want to buy back the 997. While the 991 will be faster and more precise, the 997 on track will have more of the tail-happy friskiness that caused both joy and pain in many early 911s.

The traditional instrument gauge look allows screens to fulfill different information and system demands while still keeping everything clean and relatively uncluttered.

The new car, the 991.2 911 Turbo (both with and without S), brings back that rear-end slipperiness while maintain safety and stability. Note that we are talking stability while sideways at around 120kph, so it is amazing to feel in control while you are doing that. Note also that as much as I would love to take credit of it all, it’s the car. The very fast Porsche Team drivers were instructing us to rotate the car and let the rear swing out in order to point the car directly into the direction we wanted to accelerate. That is a standard racing instruction that can be hard to do in most cars, can be scary and potentially suicidal in early 911s, and is blissfully smooth in the new 911 Turbo. Same corner, similar speeds, the Carrera 4 and 4S will feel planted, the Turbos will feel playful, they will feel light on their rubber. They will want you to dance, but you better know how to lead them. And yes, they can still be a bit scary. That’s a good thing.

The new Turbo, whether with the S or without, is the best-yet combination of traditional Porsche driving dynamics with modern technologies, perhaps because it uses the latter in service to the former.
Every generation of 911 Turbo, on track and in sequence, gives an amazing look into how the icons developed over the years, where they are going and why. Look for it soon.

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo (991.2)

Engine: Flat-6 Location: Rear, longitudinal
Displacement: 3800cc Cylinder (Block) Aluminum / (Head) Aluminum dohc, 4 valves per cylinder
Fuel Injector: Direct Fuel Injection, Turbochargers with Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG)
Max Power: 533 bhp @ 6,400 rpm
Max Torque: 523 lb ft @ 1,950 – 5,000 rpm
Drag Coefficient (cd): 0.31 cd
Transmission: 7-Speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK)
Fuel Capacity: 68 liters (17.96 gallons)
Suspension: (Front) Modified McPherson Strut Suspension with Stabilizer Bar / (Rear) Multi-Link Suspension with Stabilizer Bar stabilizer
L x W x H: 4,507mm x 1,880mm x 1,297mm
Wheelbase: 2,450mm
Weight (Curb): To Be Determined
Brakes: (Front) 14.96” (380 mm) Cross-Drilled Ventilated Ceramic Disc with Six-Piston Aluminium Monobloc Fixed Calipers / (Rear) 14.96” (380 mm) Cross-Drilled Ventilated Ceramic Disc with Four-Piston Aluminium Monobloc Fixed Calipers With ABS, EBD, Porsche Traction Management (PTM), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus)
Wheels: (Front & Rear) 20” Forged Alloy
Tires: (Front) 245/35ZR20 / (Rear) 305/35ZR20
0-100 km/h [0-62 mph]: 2.9 sec. Top Speed: 319 km/h
+: True differentiation accompanies the name in spite of the fact that all 911s are now boosted
-: Complication comes at a serious cost
Editor’s rating: 9.5 / 10

Porsche continues to give you increased amount of comfort in cars that lap racetracks faster than most racecars. The 911 Turbo models have dynamic engine mounts with increased bearing spring rates. A modification to the electronically controlled damping system (in PASM) allows even more comfort for Porshce 911 Turbo drivetrain and chassis: Gett ing comfortable with everything the road and increased stiffness on the track. The standard setting is fine, the Sport setting seems to match the car’s power abilities in most road cases, Sport Plus can be jarring if you don’t really need it. If you need it, it is awesome. So once again Porsche allows the most sensitive butts to drive the most intense cars.

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S (991.2)

Engine: Flat-6 Location: Rear, longitudinal
Displacement: 3800cc Cylinder (Block) Aluminum / (Head) Aluminum dohc, 4 valves per cylinder
Fuel Injector: Direct Fuel Injection, Turbochargers with Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG)
Max Power: 572 bhp @ 6,750 rpm
Max Torque: 553 lb ft @ 2,100 – 4,250 rpm
Drag Coefficient (cd): 0.31 cd
Transmission: 7-Speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK)
Fuel Capacity: 68 liters (17.96 gallons)
Suspension: (Front) Modified McPherson Strut Suspension with
Stabilizer Bar / (Rear) Multi-Link Suspension with Stabilizer Bar stabilizer
L x W x H: 4,507mm x 1,880mm x 1,297mm
Wheelbase: 2,450mm
Weight (Curb): To Be Determined
Brakes: (Front) 16.14” (410 mm) Cross-Drilled Ventilated Ceramic Disc with Six-Piston Aluminium Monobloc Fixed Calipers / (Rear) 15.35” (390 mm) Cross-Drilled Ventilated Ceramic Disc with Four-Piston Aluminium Monobloc Fixed Calipers With ABS, EBD, Porsche Traction Management (PTM), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus)
Wheels: (Front & Rear) 20” Forged Alloy
Tires: (Front) 245/35ZR20 / (Rear) 305/35ZR20
0-100 km/h [0-62 mph]: 2.9 sec. Top Speed: 319 km/h
+: The king remembers how to play, awesome power delivered with frisky dynamics. Anyone can drive it and it won’t kill them
Rating: 10 / 10

Both versions of the 911 Turbo use twin-turbos with variable turbine geometry to pull the most out of the flat-six 3.8 liter engine. For the first time though, there is now a mechanical difference between the Turbo and the Turbo S. The S uses a larger compressor wheel and appropriately modified housing. Both models, though, benefit from an increase in the maximum injection pressure of the direct fuel injection system. An increase from 140 bar to 200 bar allows improved atomization of the fuel, which in turn allows better fuel-air mixture. Also, the higher pressure is able to deliver fuel as demanded by the engines when needed. And yes, this more precise system also allows lower emissions and better fuel economy.
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Editor-In-Chief / Managing Director