2016 Porsche 991.2 Track Stint: Carrera 4S Supercar Laps, 911 Turbo S Launches

2016 Porsche 991.2 Track Stint: Carrera 4S Supercar Laps, 911 Turbo S Launches

Why it all happened

These Germans might seem like a secret society consisting of engineering geniuses and cold-blooded designers, but the carmaker was tech-romantic enough to invite us to a half-day circuit experience that would take place at the same time with the final part of this year's Le Mans adventure. It's enough to remember how the 919 Hybrid moved in to bring Porsche its 18th title on the Circuit de la Sarthe on the final lap of the race to figure out how risky our adventure was.

Then again, flying from one vibrator to another on the track between indoors moments that saw us getting the latest Le Mans updates was one hell of an experience and, to be honest, the intensity of the shenanigan didn't depend on Porsche's victory.The menu for the day
The action took place at the Titi Aur Academy, close to Bucharest, Romania's capital city. We're talking about a facility including a course that may be less than a mile long (1.2 kilometers), but the easy-to-remember layout of the circuit meant we could focus on the Zuffenhausen machines sitting before us.

The relatively short seat time, combined with the melange of Neunelfer aromas means I'll steer clear of bringing you a full track review for the driven models. Nevertheless, I have one boiling list of driving notes for all you Porsche fans.

Our running-around-on-the-track day also involved jumping into a 718 Boxster for some exercises and a bit of countersteering play in a Macan Turbo. However, I'm here to focus on the Neunelfer, which is exactly what I'll do. To be more precise, the following notes will be split between the Carrera 4, the Carrera 4S and, of course, the Turbo S.

Since I mentioned the Carrera S in the intro, this one will go first.

From the very moment when Porsche announced the 7:30 Nurburgring lap time of the Carrera S, it became obvious that the rear-engined machine had moved closer to supercar territory than ever before.

For instance, since the Ferrari 458 Italia was retired early, using its time for the sake of comparison doesn't make for an ex-generation comparo cliche. And when just two seconds separate the 991.2 Carrera S and the 458 on the Green Hell, the Porsche point made above become even clearer. Now, for those notes:

-On the track and using the Sport+ driving mode in the PDK-equipped 4S we drove, you never get to feel any turbo lag, since the 3.0-liter flat-six is always in the sweet spot.

-In theory, 420 hp and 368 lb-ft (450 Nm) of torque don't sound all that impressive nowadays (given the supercar context mentioned above), but this 911 manages to make those numbers seems like they're, say, 30 percent greater. Out there on the smooth asphalt, the newfound grunt of the Carrera S make this Porsche a bit more unforgiving than before, even in all-wheel-drive trim.

-Turbo or GT division fetishes and bragging rights aside, the 2016 Carrera S has all the power you'll ever need. Once you get to connect with the car (let the Google CarPlay rants begin), it's extremely satisfying to make full use of its generous mid-range resources, while dialing things up to 11 will quench your extreme hooning thirst.

-The car we drove didn't come with the rear-axle steering the Carrera S has now borrowed from the Turbo/Turbo S and GT3/GT3 RS, but its standard Torque Vectoring feature is a doll. The brake-based system never feels anything less than organic, and the car delivers that extra pivoting effect just when you need it the most. 

Truth be told, the badassery of the 911 Carrera 4S made the Carrera 4 at-the-limit driving feel like a walk in the park

-The non-S Carrera has always been friendly, but the distance between the 991.2 models seems greater than before.

-MINI (you know, that MINI which dared challenge Porsche to a track duel a few years ago) likes to describe itself like a brand that offers go-kart handling. If you ask me, contemporary MINIs have turned that into a hollow marketing line, but the 2016 Carrera 4 effortlessly offers such an experience.

-While I was glad the PDK allowed me to focus on more stopwatch-savvy times in the Carrera 4S, I constantly found myself searching for the clutch in the Carrera 4 PDK I drove. Given the civilian nature of the machine, a stick shift would make for a bit of a simple man's 911 R experience. OK, only a tiny bit.

-The Carrera 4 PDK we used didn't come with the optional Torque Vectoring and while one could argue such a system wasn't necessary, I felt the feature wouldn't have taken anything away from the sheer driving pleasure provided by the machine.

Oh, and let's not forget the Turbo S.

-Ironically, there's not that much to remember, since we only did launch control (LC) episodes. And when you hit 62 mph in under three seconds and then come to a halt in less than half the time, you'll notice recording memories isn't one of the human brain's top assets – even though I do recall being mesmerized by how a Turbo S Cabriolet looks when borrowing the GT3 RS' Lava Orange launch color.

-Despite Porsche packing one of the friendliest LC features on the go-fast market, there's still something you need to keep in mind when attempting a rushed take-off in this (580 hp, 553 lb-ft/750 Nm) Neunelfer. Give those turbos some time to spool – when you're there, mashing both the gas and the brake, make sure to keep the engine bouncing off its rev limiter for a few seconds, so you get full starting boost. And, as we showed you earlier today, this also applies to the other turbocharged 911s.

-You shouldn't fret about such manhandling hurting the car. The Turbo/Turbo S is notorious for its resistance to repeated violent launches. In fact, we covered dozens of take-offs throughout the day and it was all normal.

-The feature I was most interested in was not the 20 hp bump brought by the 991.2 update, but the little thing I like to call a civilian anti-lag system. No, this is not the turbocharger-consuming system found on racecars. Instead, Zuffenhausen engineers came up with a solution that doesn't affect reliability, but still brings the much-needed instance response while you're on the move.

The boxer at the back of the car has basically become an air pump on the overrun phase. In other words, when you take your foot off the loud pedal, air will continue to enter the cylinders, thus being compressed and keeping those turbos spinning.

The effect is obviously more pronounced in the Sport and Sport+ modes (you wouldn't want this in a traffic jam, would you?) and, in the real world, it all feels like a woosh-woosh that brings an almost-atmospheric surge once you get back on the power.

The feature also means Porsche's 3.8-liter twin-turbo mill no longer sits behind (response-wise) the Ricardo-supplied twin-turbo 3.8-liter found in any contemporary McLaren road car – a back-to-back test would be required to declare a winner here.What's next?
The Zuffenhausen-Woking comparo above only makes my patience even shorter when it comes to the release of the 911 GT2 that's been flying low on the Nurburgring earlier this week.

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