930 3.0 v 991: evolution of a species
Second gear, just before the apex of the tightly radiused corner. Squeeze the power and wait for the 930 Turbo to spin up and deliver boost. 2,500rpm and nothing is happening. 3,000rpm and still nothing of significance. In fact, it’s feeling like a slightly flat, normally aspirated Porsche. Three-and-a-half grand and finally we’re feeling a shove between the shoulder blades, the boost gauge below the rev counter now stirring. Suddenly that softly sprung rear is squatting down and the nose is lifting, and we’re being pushed hard at the horizon. The revs rise at a disproportionate rate to what was happening a second ago and I’m readying for that long-throw 915 shift across the gate and into third gear, hoping that I can shift it briskly enough that the engine doesn’t fall off boost.
Ahead of us there’s a vivid, gold 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition that only seconds ago was filling our windscreen and has now almost vanished over the horizon. The 930 Turbo, now on boost in third gear, is covering the ground rapidly, yet there’s just so much distance to make up. An awful lot has happened in Porsche technology in the last 40 or so years… and not only in turbocharging technology. In fact, today is proving to be such an education and reminder of automotive technology advancement that it’s going to take some time to gather my thoughts.
These two Porsche 911 Turbos are both utterly beautiful. The fact that they both happen to be shades of gold that reflect the prevailing fashions at the time of their production is a happy coincidence that makes for an attractive photoshoot here in North Wales. They are both equally stunning to behold, and of course both are rear-engined. However, beyond that the differences are so stark that they provide probably the most graphic illustration possible of how the Porsche 911 ethos of Darwinian evolution has brought us to what is probably the pinnacle of internal combustion engine technology today, without the addition of hybrid power. We have here the beginning of the Porsche Turbo and quite possibly the end, together on the demanding roads of the Evo Triangle.
I’ve driven the 991-generation Turbo before, so its performance is nothing new to me. It’s fair to say that I am a devoted fan of the 911 Turbo as a road car. I fully accept the argument that the GT3 line has a purity of throttle response that is linear and telepathic, yet there’s something about the effortless, devastating overtaking capability of the 911 Turbos of each respective generation that has given me many happy memories over my years of 911 driving. Most enthusiasts would admit that if there were only one Porsche to drive every single day for the rest of their life, it would probably be a 911 Turbo.
It’s for the best that I’m driving the 930 Turbo first. At least that way it stands a chance to impress with that charismatic, early generation power delivery. The nicely adjusted 915 shift has only four gears, and I’m reminded as a former 1979 Turbo owner just how often you use first gear around the town. Those junctions where you may normally dip the clutch a little and keep it rolling in second gear need a slow, deliberate shift down to first that ideally requires a little heel toe and timing to achieve smoothly; you’re using first as an actual gear here, rather than something you select once stationary. Leaving it in second can strand you mid-junction in a black hole of performance that can be a little embarrassing if you’re not careful.
The steering is unassisted and heavy, weighting up in the traditional 911 way as soon as the corners become significant. It’s not difficult – unless you’re trying a three-point turn in a side street – but it’s heavy nonetheless and gives your wrists a workout, with the steering wheel doing its unique 911 feedback dance over road imperfections. The ride is certainly firmer that a standard 911, though it’s far from hard.
For the full feature, pic up your copy of Total 911 issue 170, dedicated only to the rarest Porsche Turbos, in shops now or get it delivered to your door. You can also download the issue to an Apple or Android device of your choice.