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Porsche 911 Turbo PDK Sport Chrono Pack
9/10

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Porsche 911 Turbo PDK Sport Chrono Pack

Driven November 2009

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Let's start with the noise. This 911 - the second ‘997' to wear the Turbo badge - produces a deep soundblast of whooshes, woofles and faint artillery booms. A racecar whirr cuts through the sonic mayhem to remind you that, way back behind you, a new 3.8-litre flat-six engine is doing its thing.

We've had a 997-variant Turbo since 2006, though until now it's had the older 3.6-litre engine. This one takes the new ‘A1' engine from the rest of the updated 911 range (direct fuel injection, integrated dry sump for lower centre of gravity) and adds two turbos. So it now has 493bhp and enough torque to trigger rockslides - 515lb ft in this £107k Sport Chrono version.

You will also notice some paddles at your fingertips, if you choose the PDK dual-clutch gearbox. This is big news because a) they replace the widely hated ‘buttons', which are still an option, and b) this dual-clutch 'box can actually handle all that torque, a feat beyond most manufacturers bar Ferrari. This is achieved by adding an extra clutch plate to the PDK you find in other 911s, which helps keeps the cogs meshed neatly inside the gearbox rather than exploded all over the road.

We're used to stupendously fast supercars nowadays, but even they need to be wound up before you really feel the speed. However, the Turbo's power is as instant as an arterial crack hit and full torque is available from just 2,100rpm. Punch the launch control button in this chrono-spec car with PDK, and you'll hit 62mph in 3.4 seconds... at which point your brain will be recoiling in your skull.

The Sport Chrono also gets - take a deep breath - magnetorheological engine mounts. Each mount is effectively a damper filled with oil and metal filings, which is buzzed with charge to firm or soften it and stop the engine jinking around once the car has settled into a bend - a side effect of having 300kg of engine and transmission sat right over the back axle, such is the 911's rear-engined layout.

Another new tool on the Turbo is Porsche's torque vectoring system. It unites the existing mechanical limited-slip diff with the ABS and stability systems to brake the inside rear wheel as you turn in, helping to nose the car into a bend and spool it out the other side.

Despite this extra pointiness, the Turbo doesn't feel hard or edgy - that's a job for the GT3. And here we hit upon the magic of this thing. The new engine and Sport Chrono set-up and the flappy paddles all contribute to a fine blend of usability and performance. It's soft enough to trundle around town and over cobblestones, yet fast enough to tear them from their concrete beds when you squash the throttle. At which point villagers may start throwing tomatoes, but at least you'll have a 193mph getaway car.

Dan Read

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