The 997 Turbo is the most extroverted 911. It wears a deep nasal air dam that eats snow for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. The revised front end displays a light pattern consisting of LED indicators and sidelights plus small halogen foglamps. In addition, the Turbo sports flared wheel arches, tapered sills, and split lateral air intakes. It also features a radically different rear end with a bigger, automatically extending biplane spoiler, a skirted apron with graphic vents, and a pair of massive exhaust pipes.
Porsche engineers have done a great job taking the rough edges out of the previously brittle ride, thanks to PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management). The other area of improvement is the new all-wheel-drive system. Just six months after the launch of the Carrera 4, the tech team has revolutionized the AWD hardware by replacing the viscous coupling responsible for providing engine torque to the front axle with an electronically controlled, hydraulically actuated clutch.
This top-of-the-line 997 can reportedly be maxed at 193 mph. Although the final numbers have yet to be confirmed, the manual version is claimed to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. The Tiptronic model (a sequential manual will come later) does the job even quicker--3.8 seconds--eclipsing the much more expensive Carrera GT in the process. This essentially means the death of the GT2 model, but there eventually will be a Turbo S, which should be rated at about 510 hp. In its current guise, the force-fed, 3.6-liter boxer engine musters 480 hp at 6000 rpm and 457 lb-ft between 1950 and 5000 rpm. The new variable-vane turbocharger is responsible for both the tall, altar-shaped torque curve and for an overboost function that briefly kicks the torque up to 502 lb-ft.
At 3483 pounds, the new Turbo is twenty-two pounds lighter than the previous one--despite bigger brakes and more equipment. Most of the weight reduction was achieved by making the doors, hood, and trunk lid from aluminum instead of steel. The brakes are also new. You can choose either 13.8-inch-diameter cast-iron discs or ceramic rotors (15.0 inches in the front, 13.8 inches in the back), which cost a hefty $9300. There are six-piston calipers up front, with four pistons at the rear.
The optional Chrono Plus pack is new for the Turbo. Push the button, and brace yourself for a five-stage go-faster scenario: quicker throttle action, more aggressive Tiptronic response, a tauter damper setting, turbo overboost (17.4 psi instead of 14.5 psi), and delayed stability control interference. This is the perfect introduction to the Turbo's ultimate dynamics, allowing you to familiarize yourself with the character of the car without running the risk of spinning yourself dizzy. Once acclimatized, you can take bravery pills and switch off the stability system. The seamless torque delivery makes it easy to balance the car, and it's so smooth that you wouldn't be surprised to find a big-bore V-8 in that letterbox compartment beneath the extending whale tail. Unlike previous boxer engines, this one has been properly dressed up. Instead of being covered by black plastic cladding, the flat six now lies almost bare in its bay, displaying a pretty mix of gunmetal aluminum, polished steel, and high-class rubber.
The manual transmission has an optional sport shifter that we liked for its 15 percent shorter throws, but we didn't appreciate the 30 percent increase in stiffness that seems to go with it. Finally, the price of the new 911 Turbo should be five to ten percent more than the $119,000 Porsche asked for the most recent model.