The 930 911s were known for their wayward handling. With most of the weight at the back and a massive turbo welded on to the flat-six for good measure, it was known as the Widowmaker. It was also the world’s fastest production car in 1975 but you couldn’t keep it in a straight line when the blower eventually spooled up and kicked in, flinging the car forwards, hard. No chance if you were midway in a corner. You were heading into that ditch – no heroic tales at dinner of how you wrestled the car into submission.
Turbo lag was a big problem then; with the power coming in after a lengthy delay, it took a very skilled hand to keep the 911 in check. You needed patience, skill and a lot of courage. If you learnt to drive it properly, it was immensely rewarding. The average driver? He’d be swapping ends in every corner, thus the deadly rep.
No such problems with the current, mid-cycle update of the 991 911 Turbo – but just because I’m alive and reviewing this one, don’t for a second think it’s tame.
Sure, with all-wheel drive, a PDK, and all sorts of safety and traction systems, it’d take some seriously foolish behaviour to kill yourself in this. But it might scare you to death with one facet – pace.
Put your foot down and it shoots off for the horizon so quickly that you might think you just fell into a black hole. That’s just when you’re in Comfort mode. And when you slam on the brakes, it stops so hard that you have to stiffen your neck so your face doesn’t bounce back off the steering wheel.
But let’s take a step back for a second and concentrate on what’s new for 2017. Porsche has given it a new fuel injection system, it has tweaked the PDK, updated the infotainment system and sharpened up the styling. It features a larger grille below the front bumper, daytime running lights around the headlights, new door handles and engine cover, the massive rear fenders get gaping ports to feed air to the intercoolers and there are four quad exhaust tips around the back.
Since the other 911s have downsized, you may have thought the Turbo would too. Nope. Its horizontally opposed six continues at 3.8 litres and is blessed with 540 horses, 710Nm of torque, can hit 100kph in 3.0 seconds and has a top speed of 320kph. And a Dynamic Boost function eliminates even a hint of turbo lag and does so by keeping the throttle valve wide open (but cuts fuel delivery) when you take your foot off the throttle.
So, the turbos are still spinning and when you hit the hammer again, the injectors spring into life and you begin to wonder if the six is naturally aspirated as you touch licence-destroying speeds within seconds. The seven-speed auto’s shift pattern now matches that of the GT3 (downshifts are forward, upshifts are back) and it has a dual-mass flywheel. This reduces vibration and lets the motor run at lower rpm in higher gears while the all-wheel drive has been revised, too. It now has a new water-cooled, multi-clutch transfer case, which can handle more torque, and a locking rear diff now comes as standard on this car. This ninth-gen Turbo is seriously fast; from a standstill and even without launch control, floor it and you’ll leave your stomach behind. Sport Plus mode will glue you to the seat; the tyres don’t spin or squeal – the Turbo simply puts the power down on the road in one go. All four wheels bite down on to the tarmac, the pace is relentless and those extra 20 horses sure make themselves known.
Of course, it isn’t just about the sheer speed, it’s the chassis too; it corners totally flat, and the electric steering is almost telepathic. It eagerly changes direction, is always poised and composed no matter how sharp the corner, and inspires so much confidence. You don’t know when to back off at times – then you notice the Sport Response Button on the 918-esque steering wheel. Push this and for 20 glorious seconds, the Turbo sharpens everything up to the extent where it doesn’t even feel road legal anymore. Just incredible.
What’s just as incredible is that at a casual pace, it feels so civil. It doesn’t strain at the leash; it’s comfortable and relaxed – the PDK doesn’t try to fling you into the next decade with every gear change. Smooth one minute, absolutely bonkers the next – and it won’t try to kill you. You gotta love this car.