Track time with 911 Turbo S

By RIZAL JOHAN | 24 March 2014
You can drive a Porsche on a track year in and year out, and still come away with the biggest smile on your face. And if you’re driving a 911 Turbo S, it’s going to be ear-to-ear.

Driving a Porsche on the race track is always a thrilling experience.

And that is an understatement.

I was privy to the Porsche Driving Experience last year when I took a few laps with the Cayman S and 911 Carrera 4S in Sepang.

That was a blast and a half.

This year it was supposed to be the new GT3 and the 911 Turbo S.

Alas, the GT3 experienced technical problems and was left out of the agenda.

In its place was the Carrera 4S.

Besides trying out the Porsches, I had my own targets to meet where driving was concerned.

Most important was looking ahead and achieving a sense of consistency by hitting the clipping points. The other was hand etiquette and making sure I braked hard and then turned the wheel; no trail braking if I could help it.

I didn’t have to worry about heel-and-toe because I was pretty sure the Porsches would be equipped with PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung or double clutch transmission) and sure enough, it was.

After a briefing by Arnt Bayer, chief executive officer of Sime Darby Auto Performance - the authorised importer of Porsche in Malaysia - about the Turbo S and some safety tips - “no texting while driving and no selfies please”, the relay began.

Each media member were given three laps for each car, and first up for me was the Carrera 4S.

This was not a solo drive as each car had a guide riding shotgun and mine was Portugese-born Rodolfo Avila, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia driver for Team Jebsen.

As it happens, the three laps with the Carrera 4S was like a warm-up compared with the Turbo S.

The Carrera 4S is all-wheel drive; has a 3.8-litre boxer engine mated to a seven-speed double clutch transmission and belts out 400hp at 7,400rpm and a maximum torque of 440Nm at 5,600rpm. It’s no slow poke by any stretch.

It is however, a very practical sports car. The air-conditioning was on and there was even music from a local radio station albeit at very low volume, belting out through the Burmester sound system as I was driving it around the track.

The car was responsive; stable at high speeds and it hugged the turns beautifully.

“Your racing line is very good,” said Avila at the end of the three laps and I felt like I just won a gold medal. Then he added, “But you can go faster. With the Turbo S, you go faster.”

And with those encouraging words, I got in the Turbo S. This time the guide was New Zealand-born race driver Earl Bamber and, as we sat in the idling car, it was immediately apparent that this was altogether a different beast.

For one, it made deeper rumbling sounds than the 4S. The throttle response was like a hair-trigger and I was amazed that I could reach high revs with a light touch of the accelerator.

Every time I hit the accelerator, the power of the car just pinned me back to the seat. That’s when I realised this is what a bi-turbocharging, flat six-cylinder 3.8 litre engine which produces 560hp and 698Nm of torque is all about.

This was the faster car, no doubt. With this car I felt both understeer and oversteer going in and out of the turns but it was never scary. On the straight I reached 231kph in a blink of an eye.

“You’re having a lot of fun, aren’t you,” Bamber remarked.

And he let me do an extra lap with the Turbo S. I’m still smiling as I write this. That’s what driving a Porsche does to you.