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The ultimate boys' toy is given a turbo boost; TEST DRIVE PORSCHE 911.

Byline: Enda Mullen

THE Porsche 911 is probably the greatest automotive evolution story ever - and it's one that looks set to continue for some time to come.

Line up the latest version next to the original and to some extent they look like chalk and cheese but there's no doubting the shared DNA and common lineage.

The latest version of what many consider the definitive sports car started getting rolled out last autumn with the rear-wheel drive Carrera models.

Perhaps the biggest change was a new turbocharged engine, a first for Carrera models, which delivers around 20bhp more for both the base Carrera and S models. It's a smaller six-cylinder 3.0-litre unit replacing the 2.4 and 3.8-litre engines used previously.

It means all 911s now benefit from turbocharging and an entry-level Carrera now delivers 370bhp while the S delivers 420bhp.

One of the definitive features of the 911 has always been a stepped progression from entry level right through to the blistering Turbo S model.

None are cheap - an entry-level Carrera will cost you PS76,412 but the range-topper will set you back almost double that amount.

The Carrera actually offers thrills a-plenty and certainly as a road-going car it ticks plenty of boxes.

The power hike with the new engine makes a marked difference and on the roads around the Silverstone circuit where the Porsche Experience Centre is based it was a pure joy to drive.

It's also a decent track performer and I got to put it through its paces on the two Porsche Centre tracks which combine twists and turns with straights to make the most of its prowess.

This facility is something all Porsche buyers now get to experience and it's a great way to explore the potential of a vehicle that is capable of far more than most users will ever demand of it.

The Porsche Centre also offers people the chance to try some more extreme conditions with a kick plate, which emulates the car going out of control and wet conditions and an ice hill, which gets you to learn how to control your vehicle in icy conditions when it starts to slip and slide.

Perhaps the most fun of all is the airport runway-style strip where you can explore the blistering pace of the 911 in a straight line and learn of the capabilities of the Launch Control feature at its most extreme.

It's a bit of a boy's toy thing in some respects but is also great fun - particularly in a Turbo or Turbo S. The 911 rollout continued with the four-wheel drive Carrera and Targa models in October last year, followed by the all-wheel drive Targa and the Turbo and Turbo S at the end of 2015.

The two top of the range models also get a 20bhp power hike - to 540bhp and 580bhp respectively.

It means the Turbo S can now complete the 0-60mph sprint in just three seconds and the truth is in reality it's even faster than that. That's an on paper figure - in perfect conditions it will manage it in 2.7 seconds.

That said, an entry-level Carrera can manage 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 183mph, so it's no sloucher either.

The in-between AWD models get an improved AWD system, carried over from the previous generation Turbo, meaning they are now quicker than rear-wheel drive models with the bonus of extra grip.

As always the 911 is available in three body styles - Coupe, Convertible and Targa.

Exterior styling modifications are subtle rather than overt. The front apron has a new "smiling" face and there are four-point daytime running lights which reflect future Porsche DNA. In addition the door handles are new and there's a range of new wheel designs. Other changes to the rear include new rear bumpers, modifications to the air intake grille and '3D' tail lights.

The are changes too when it comes to technology, including a new Porsche Communication System (PCM) which is standard on all models. Porsche Car Connect features include traffic information in real time, Google Earth and Google Street View and the ability to connect with a smartphone.

Opt for the Sports Chrono package (you'll need that for Launch Control) and there's a button which gives full Sports Response for 20 seconds - perfect for a power boost in everyday situations, such as overtaking on a country road.

The blistering power available in both the Turbo and Turbo S is breathtaking, to the point where it requires an entirely different approach to making progress on track or road but in truth the entry-level Carrera offers a truly rewarding drive - faster, sharper and more fun than ever.

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| The Porsche Turbo S goes from 0-60mph in a blisteringly fast two seconds
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 22, 2016
Words:799
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