Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann talks R8s, lap records, and his brand's future...
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What is it?
The quickest-accelerating 911 ever, and one of the very fastest cars in the world. The new Turbo S, with its bi-turbo 3.8-litre flat six, sends 553bhp and a ludicrous 553 torques to four very large tyres, The 0-62mph sprint is officially quoted at 3.1 seconds, with top speed standing at 198mph.
So it’s pretty… quick then?
Quick? Not at all. The Turbo S actually feels pedestrian. Lazy. Slow, even.
No. That was a lie. This thing is off the scale: blindingly quick in the most literal sense. Seriously, human eyes cannot cope with the force of the Turbo S’s acceleration: vision blurs, the scenery closes in and small, scared noises emerge involuntarily from the driver. This is acceleration in its rawest sense. Pure, vicious thrust.
Yeah, but can the car handle the power?
But of course. Porsche, being Porsche, has entirely re-engineered the 911 for Turbo duty. There’s a wider rear track, and, like the new 911 GT3, active rear-wheel steer. Clever aero too: as well as that active rear wing, the Turbo S boasts the world’s first variable front spoiler, a four-inch-deep rubber skirt (stop it) that extends from the bottom lip of the front bumper in three sections. At low speeds it remains retracted, its side sections only unfurling as you pass 75mph, or you can have it fully deployed for maximum track attack.
All of which means…?
Absurd grip and simply ludicrous speed. Everywhere, all of the time. Autobahn, B-road, gravel, rain, whatever: the Turbo S is the sort of car you step from after a drive - even a short one - thankful to still possess your licence. It’s the sort of car I’d be scared to own for fear it might irreversibly rewire my concept of what’s physically and socially acceptable on the road. On a circuit, a Huayra or BAC Mono might just edge the Turbo S. On a greasy B-road, I’m not sure there’s much in the world that could keep pace with it.
Yeah, but does it have a proper manual gearbox for proper manual drivers?
No, and it doesn’t need one. Porsche’s dual-clutch ‘PDK’ seven-speeder is brilliant here, and a perfect fit for the Turbo S’s ‘keep it pointing in the right direction and we’ll sort out the rest’ philosophy. And such is the flat-six’s flexibility that on any A or B-road you never need change out of third, a wrecking-ball of a gear that carries you from walking pace into triple figures incurring only minor blindness along the way.
So what’s the downside?
The Turbo doesn’t offer much in the way of fingertip feedback, but that’s not what it’s about: the rear-drive 911 GT3 is there for those who want to explore slip angles and Nomex outerwear. And then there’s the price. £142,000 sounds rather a lot for a hopped-up VW Beetle, until you consider the supercars the Turbo S rivals, not least the Ferrari 458 and McLaren 12C that Porsche benchmarked for performance.
So should I mention the Nissan GT-R?
True, Japan’s twin-turbo, four-wheel drive icon is probably the Turbo S’s closest rival, and offers similar power for half the money. But the 911 is a finer, more rounded proposition: arguably the ultimate everyday supercar. It’s far, far too fast and far, far too competent. It might eventually destroy you. It’ll almost definitely turn you blind. But we love it.