It never ceases to amaze how clever fine-tuning can improve a car's overall performance. The outgoing 911 Turbo was a highly competent piece, but compared with the follow-up model, it shows a few rough edges, some dynamic idiosyncrasies, and certain odd handling traits at the limit. One is the relatively abrupt transition from understeer to oversteer, which has now all but disappeared.
Even through corners taken at the limit of adhesion, the 911 Turbo's body motions have been reduced by a tangible amount. On smooth surfaces, the confidence-inspiring chassis will tolerate a more pronounced tail-out attitude than last year's sharper-edged suspension setup. On bumpy surfaces, the new Turbo is more relaxed, avoiding excessive tramlining, terrain-induced steering fight, and overly aggressive front-end pitch.
By changing the spring and damper rates from taut and tough to supple and stable, the Turbo's whole attitude to irritations like bumps, ridges, grooves, dips, and ripples has become more forgiving. The car remains totally connected to the road, it still tracks with absolute accuracy, yet it always stays cool and composed. Its responses are as prompt and unambiguous as ever, but the man/machine interaction is now notably smoother and more consistent.
Sport Plus is best suited for the racetrack, where you can appreciate high revs, late upshifts, early downshifts, generous slip angles, and lightning-fast throttle response. On public roads, however, one is much better off in Sport, which synchronizes the software that governs the dampers, transmission, stability control, and four-wheel-drive system. Sport is also required to free an extra 36 lb-ft of overboost torque, which further beefs up midrange urge between 2100 and 4000 rpm. Redlined at 7000 rpm, the twin-turbo six rarely needs more than 5000 rpm to defend its king-of-the-road status. Unlike the discontinued five-speed Tiptronic transmission, which was too cushy and reluctant to respond to kickdown orders, the new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic will happily shift down two or even three ratios at a time. When you back off and let the engine spin on a long leash, the chips take their time before they eventually call upon the fuel-saving top gear.
Predictably, the large, sickle-shaped shift paddles are much nicer to use than the standard shift buttons. But they are attached to the steering wheel, not the column, so it helps to pay attention when winding on more than one handful of lock.