Shaving some horsepower and torque from the almighty Porsche 911 Turbo S, does the 992 Turbo Coupe deliver just as stunning a high-performance drive as its bonkers 650hp relation?
In the Metal:
The 911 Turbo has all of the startling, wide-shouldered presence of the range-topping Turbo S from the kerb, even though this German-registered car lacks for many of the optional accoutrements that change both its exterior appearance and its chassis. For instance, there's no sports exhaust on this particular example, so instead of the two whopping great oval exhaust finishers poking out of the rear diffuser, the Turbo proudly displays its trademark square quad pipes. We like. The wheels are 'plain' 20-inch front, 21-inch rear Turbo rims, rather than any cost-option upgrades, and it still has all the active aero, the big, blistered haunches and the massive air intakes peppering its body to leave you in no doubt that this is a serious performance machine - and that's when you're standing 100 metres away from it with the key feverishly gripped in your hands, awaiting your first go behind the wheel.
You then settle yourself down in the typically magnificent 992 cabin and, on the Turbo, there's absolutely no giveaways at all that this is the, erm... 'lesser' model of the 3.7-litre 911 models available in the 2020s. You get superb seats, a smashing driving position, the 'Turbo' script in the centrally mounted rev counter, the glorious 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment screen in the centre console and the tell-tale dash-top dial that informs you the desirable Sport Chrono Package is standard-fit. Yep, the 992 Turbo is a special car to look at and its passenger compartment is a wonderful place to spend some time. So far, so good.
The changes from Turbo to Turbo S are largely all wrapped up in the on-paper metrics for the two vehicles. In essence, the headline figures are that this Turbo runs a 580hp/750Nm variant of the 3,745cc twin-turbo flat-six petrol engine, placing its peak outputs a modest 50Nm and a somewhat-less-modest 70hp shy of the Turbo S. The Turbo's horsepower is delivered at a slightly lower rev point of 6,500rpm (-250rpm) than that 650hp zenith in the S, although its maximum torque is spread out over a wider low- to mid-range band than the 800Nm (from 2,500-4,000rpm) available in the Turbo S.
This results in a car that is one-tenth of a second tardier to 100km/h from rest than the Turbo S, the 580hp Turbo running a still-face-aching 2.8-second time, and it's 10km/h slower flat out at a claimed 320km/h - but such numbers are wholly irrelevant for road use in almost any country on the planet bar Germany, so we're not really complaining about this. The Turbo's eco-stats seem about the same as the S, so it shouldn't prove any more expensive nor cheaper to run, which means it then comes down to some of the chassis hardware fitted as standard to separate the two. The S gains Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active anti-roll bars from the off for its near-€285,000 asking price, whereas on the Turbo these would require extra expenditure from an owner on top of the €245,390 list price. Intriguingly, while the Turbo gains the wider tracks of all 992 3.7 models and the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) electronic rear differential, this is the first time a 992 Turbo or Turbo S has been driven without the sports chassis - this lowers the Porsche 10mm and brings in a specific state of suspension tuning. It's a cost-option on both the 580- and 650hp models, in case you're wondering, but every Turbo S tested by media so far has had it fitted.
Still, those of you with good car knowledge will probably be aware that, while the 992 Turbo is the entry point to mega-power 911 ownership in the 2020s, it's still every bit as powerful, torquey and even more accelerative than the old 991 Turbo S, so there's no reason to feel short-changed by the utterly brutal, somewhat unhinged way the new Turbo accelerates. This is an astonishingly fast and powerful machine, with minimal turbo lag unless you deliberately go looking for it and an ability to rip through second, third and fourth gears in a shockingly brief amount of elapsed time. Unless you're on an airfield with a Turbo S and some timing gear conveniently to hand, subjectively there's no way you'll notice the Turbo's supposed deficits to the S.
More than that, it handles marvellously, too. It remains more involving than any other 911 Turbo that has gone before it and while there's a touch more discernible pitch, dive and lean from it due to the absence of the PDCC and the sports chassis, we're talking the finest of fine margins. In truth, the Turbo utilises its Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive and hyper-slick eight-speed gearbox to deploy as much of its considerable resources as rapidly and effectively to the big fat tyres as you could possibly dare to dream. The steering's exceptional, the brakes seem perfectly capable despite not being made of carbon, and the general demeanour of the 992 Turbo is of a supremely tied down, hugely engaging car. It's a riot to drive and there's clear dynamic air between it and the undoubtedly talented Carrera models further down the 911 range.
However. The problem was, we drove this Turbo immediately back-to-back with the manual Carrera 4S Coupe and there are also notable differences between them, in relation to the overall refinement, that cannot be ignored. So, even without that harder, lower sports chassis, the ride quality on the Turbo is considerably firmer than the Carrera 4S courtesy of its huge alloy wheels and tyres (which pick up even minor lumps like cat's eyes in a far more pronounced fashion than is strictly necessary), while both tyre roar and wind noise are also significantly elevated. Therefore, the problem is that if you're buying the 911 Turbo because you intend to take it long distances in one hit as a pseudo-GT, then the Carrera 4S is the nicer proposition in this regard, and it's perfectly fast and brawny enough to make you not miss the Turbo's thumping 3.7-litre engine. Conversely, if you're buying the 911 Turbo to get the most scintillating driving experience out of this quite fabulous 992, then aren't you just going to go der ganzes schwein and have the 650hp S for your colossal outlay? Once you're talking about the rarefied world of €250,000 cars that command a €2,400 annual motor tax fee, what's 40 grand between friends, eh?
What you get for your Money:
As we said above, the Turbo retails at €39,376 less than the Turbo S, which seems like a useful saving. However, the S gains additional standard equipment, both in terms of comfort-oriented toys in the cabin and chassis-sharpening hardware that you cannot see, which aren't fitted to the Turbo, so the gap between them is artificially inflated. More pertinently, the Turbo is a huge €68,411 more than the Carrera 4S Coupe and, while it has an additional 130hp and 220Nm to play with compared to the 3.0-litre 992, you won't need any more performance from a grand-tourer-leaning 911 than the Carrera 4S can serve up. Which kind of leaves the Turbo stuck between a Carrera rock and a Turbo S hard case.
The Porsche 911 Turbo is one of those infuriating cars for us reviewers to mark. Ostensibly, it's amazing in every regard. The performance of it, the handling, the looks, the quality of the interior and the overall refinement of the package makes this one of the best 911 Turbos of all time and one of the best super-high-performance sports cars you could possibly purchase. It should be a racing certainty for a five-star review.
And yet... while we understand the Turbo has to exist, to verify precisely why the Turbo S flagship gains that extra 'S' in its honorific, the 580hp is left in a strange hinterland between the most astonishing driving experience you can get from any capital-T Turbo and the more comfortable aspects of the wider 992 range. Perhaps the answer is this: if you're having a 992 Turbo and you want the Coupe body, go for the S. But if you fancy having an open-top Porsche 911 with still-serious performance, then the 580hp Turbo would appear to make the most sense specified as a Cabriolet instead. Or, in short: the latest 911 Turbo is blindingly brilliant, but there are 992s available already that are that tiny bit, um, brilliant-er still.