Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet - Launch break


There is something eternally beautiful about an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), as long as it's silently standing in its concrete bunker awaiting a call which might never happen. But it's always nice to know that when needed, it can deliver a lethal blow. The point? Well, the launch control function on the 911 Turbo is totally fissile material – much like that lonely ICBM out there. You don't generally need it, especially since Porsche has a whole bunch of stunning 0-100 figures for the new 911 Turbo cabrio. With the new seven-speed PDK, the road missile does it in 3.6 seconds, but opt for the chrono pack and that comes down to 3.5 seconds. Am not sure which one of these figures suits it when the launch control is engaged, because I made a meek attempt at trying it and I was left with my face covered in drool, hair standing on its end and feet trembling like a 108-year old super-geriatric.

I don't even remember when it crossed the 100 kph mark, because the next time I actually got my eyes to settle down, the needle had crossed 180 kph. My head had already hit the optional Porsche-crested neck restraint several times by then, but it wasn't because Porsche's new PDK, dual-clutch gearbox was giving me tranny knocks. It (PDK) has simply become the best thing on a 911 Turbo since, er, the Turbo itself! They call it Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (relative of that Icelandic volcano?), but it is far easier to use it than pronounce it. Unlike the six-speed tiptronic in the past, the PDK-equipped Turbo comes with a limited slip differential as standard. Given how quick the PDK keeps the next gear ready, it makes sense. Of course it meant that unless you got that friggin’ launch control to work, the boost pressures to anywhere around 0.8 to 1 bar, switched off stability control and pressed sport plus (huff!) and raised the revs to over 4000 rpm there was just no way of getting the car to wheelspin. You could say the limited slip diff is a bit of a killjoy, but it really doesn't take away the rapidity with which the 500 horses keep pulling you closer to the horizon – albeit with slightly reserved amounts of sensation going through your hip.

But then, thirty-five years of Turbo development haven't gone in vane... er, vain. Yes the variable vane geometry turbo is the only one of a kind on a petrol car and now revised, the twin turbos, a new air-intake and direct fuel injection have helped the power figure raise by 20 bhp over the previous model. What's an even bigger change is that the 3600cc boxer-six from the 996 and 997 (pre-facelift) Turbos has now been replaced by a 3800cc unit that is already pushing several Carrera versions. And, if you must know, it has become 16 per cent more efficient, which is not as interesting as the fact that between driving like my pants were on fire and cruising along to prevent a speeding ticket, I got 7.3 kpl – no kidding!

So the 911 Turbo has gotten a tad civilised, which isn't a bad thing. What it does is that 90 per cent of the time it's a car that doesn't need superhuman effort to drive. Unlike the past where you needed a cape and X-ray vision before you drove one, the new Turbo has become as easy to drive as the Volkswagen Polo. Easy, and maybe a bit anaesthesised. The difference in the driving ability of this and the 2009 911 Turbo I drove in Power Play is there to be felt. With the Sports chrono pack, there's also new dynamic engine mounts that reduce the amount of drivetrain vibration that passes through the entire body, while with Porsche torque vectoring, the chances of understeer are close to nil. You seriously need to be superhuman to get this car out of shape which means going really deep down into the bowels of the best that Zuffenhausen have to offer. And on that one occasion I did.~!@#

Coming fast around a left hander, with the heat haze nearly blinding me and the temperature readout on the dash close to 52 degrees centigrade and the electronic controls switched off, the car started to lose a bit of traction. Even with all that trickery and four-wheel drive, I had that momentary and ever so slightly oversteer moment. What followed after that was ten minutes of pure exhilaration. With no signs of speed nannies or the law for miles, the 911 Turbo started to sing to every input of the throttle and steering. Speeds became eyebrow shreddingly quick, the steering tighter and tighter with every steering input and now with the sport dampers on, it started to feel like it had closed the gap on the GT-R, arguably the hardest car on the planet. And as I stepped off the gas to negotiate another roundabout, the turbo whistle sounded audibly through the manifold and tail-ends like the last slurp from a soda glass. Strange, but at the limit it sounds and feels surprisingly human and not robotic.

Don't ask me how the airconditioning was, because it was excellent. So were the fine leather stitched interiors, the well machined PDK gear-lever and the dials and buttons that felt they could only have been made by Porsche. When I was finally done getting more goosebump moments, I turned up the volume on the Bose Burmeister system a notch higher and even in that windy atmosphere with some road noise emanating, it sounded quite the part of the New York Philharmonic. Scuttle-shake isn't something this car has probably ever heard of and ride quality, for all the rumble strips worth, was excellent for this all-weather supercar.~!@#

For those who have Rs 1.67 crore to spare for this car (or Rs 1.54 crore for the coupe) and then some after you've ticked on the options boxes, this is by far the closest you can get to a hypercar that one can live with on a daily basis. The age-old stories of the engine in the wrong place and oversteer moments are best left as grannies tales. What the new 911 Turbo really does is look achingly beautiful standing still, going hell-for-leather or even cruising around the boulevard. And yes, on an open stretch, when no one is looking - especially the long arm of the law - just get the launch control armed and watch the heat contrails in your rear view mirror...