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First Drive

Road Test: Porsche 911 2dr

£97,808 when new
Published: 08 May 2006


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The new Porsche 911 Turbo. Everything you hoped for, it is. Which means that it's currently the most accessible supercar in the world.

You might note that I mean what I say; not necessarily the fastest - although with a 480bhp 3.6-litre twin-turbo boxer six, it's by no means limping along, hitting 62mph in under four seconds and on to 189mph - but the one car capable of tearing around like a superhero no matter who is at the wheel. Which actually makes it more impressive, not less.

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New electronic all-wheel drive makes the most of turbo power provided by a pair of new variable-vane 'chargers, apportioning torque across the axles with the kind of seamless thrust that can only mean that megabits of tech are making damn sure you fire off as fast as is inhumanly possible.

It truly makes bits of your brain fizz, and is all the more impressive for the fact that the car is so well sorted that if you switch off all the electronic minders, the Turbo still barely wheelspins before sucking the horizon down in one swift gulp.

On the move there's a notchy gearbox to contend with - a bit like a meatier version of the manual in a VW Golf GTi - and a remarkably supple ride. Yes, the Turbo is still a firm car - but secondary damping over broken surfaces is excellent.

The reason that the 'standard' mode can be so supple is the fact then when you push on, the Porsche has another couple of tricks up its vents. Push the PASM button and adjustable electronic dampers screw the car into the road by a decent amount, making steering feel more direct and deleting both an element of bodyroll and initial understeer.

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Go for the full Big Mac and press the 'Sport' button and you get racer's package; less traction control, a raised ABS ceiling, faster throttle response, more direct exhaust - the lot. You also get more intimate with the bumps that didn't even make your bottom move before. But you also get more feedback, more insistence and more thrills.

This is where the Turbo starts to have ever-so-slight issues. This not a visceral car - nor a particularly emotional one. For instance, it really will not make any measure of oversteer, simply because it is not the fastest way around a corner. This is both admirable and slightly annoying.

Yes, you can provoke crass low-speed movement, but the diffs are so clever, showing off isn't really on the cards. A remarkably unfussy-looking way around a corner that actually disguises the sheer hardcore speed of the thing.

Similarly, and as with all Turbos, the car is slightly muted � making it simply not sound that fast. Being sense-led animals, a car gets at least an extra 20mph on the top speed if it sounds quick - just ask any Saxo owner. Full throttle gives you an engine disposing with its sound rather than revelling in it. It doesn't sing - it merely exhales.

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All of this makes the Turbo feel more spaceship than racecar. A brief spin down a country road with one of my all-time heros Walter Rohrl showed me that the Turbo is capable of insanity of the highest order (138mph on a single track road around a corner over a blind crest - yes, the road was closed, but I was shaking like a leaf), without apparent effort.

You don't fight a turbo, wrestle it or tame it. You simply point it at the place where you want to be an teleport there via the medium of one extended shout of "Aaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhh...".

It will tear off your head if you know what you're doing, and gamely snatch your ears off if you don't. It's an incredibly impressive car. But it somehow hasn't got the absolute element of the Super about it.

If you had to drive something this fast everyday, there is no other choice, but if it was a highdays and holidays treat motor, there cars out there that move more heart then head.

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