WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Porsche Turbos have always wowed the motoring reviewers. In the air-cooled era it was the brutal rush when the turbo charger (twin on the 993) woke up and the 911 took off like no other car. Post 2000, it was how the 911 integrated this power with amazing smoothness and a sense of control, enhanced by four-wheel drive and increasingly sophisticated electronic control. Each new edition of the Porsche Turbo had writers looking for fresh superlatives.
The big difference between the 997 Gen1 Turbo and the second generation was the engine. Motor Trend raved about the “muscular” 3.8’s “exceptional flexibility”. It could pull gently from low revs “or kick with tremendous force, elevating your soul and widening your grin.” It also noted that the throttle response “was sharper than ever.”
This was just what Weissach wanted to read. The Mezger engine, which did its best work at high rpm, was always a compromise in the increasingly refined Turbo and the new 3.8 overcame previous criticisms. Writing in Autocar, Steve Sutcliffe went further, noting the almost entire absence of lag even at the smallest throttle openings in high gear.
The S was so similar in mechanical spec to the plain Turbo that few magazines tried it. In Autocar, Greg Kable noted that subjectively, there was little to compare between them. “Apart from a stronger feel to the engine above 5,000rpm, the S feels like the Turbo, eager, planted, the destroyer of any road yet an easy car to drive in all conditions.”
Few people missed the manual gearbox. Pete Stout, then Excellence’s editor, observed that the S’s “sheer back-road pace makes fingertip shifts indispensable,” and although he thought that with other Porsches, PDK stole driver involvement,
“I’d have it in this car, which is plenty fast enough between corners to keep your mind busy.”