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What Happens When You Thrash a Porsche 911 Turbo S 300km/h Down an Airport Runway?

It’s easy to get complacent about the Porsche 911 Turbo. Since launching in 1974, it has been the quintessential sports car, operating as effectively on the racetrack as it does around town. Year after year, we’ve heard countless journalists ask the question: “How do they improve on this?”, and year after year, Porsche has delivered the goods. So much so, that people have become almost acclimatised to the monolithic performance figures these cars have produced. It’s as if the Porsche 911 Turbo has become predictably perfect.

So, how does one bring a healthy dose of reality to this rawness? Well, according to Porsche Australia, you hire a runway at Sydney Airport and host one of the most memorable events in the history of Australian motoring journalism.

All 3 driving down the runway

A Once in a Lifetime Event

It was runway 16L/34R, to be specific. At Sydney Airport. Yep. Sydney International Airport. As we went through the various security checkpoints and stepped foot on that seemingly infinite tarmac, it was all very surreal. Sure, airport traffic has been heavily reduced due to the pandemic, but when there’s sizeable aircraft taking off on the runway next to your driver’s briefing, you can’t help feel anything but ecstatic. This was a once in a lifetime event.

The theme of the day was “Launch Control” – aka, highlighting the staggering straight-line performance of the latest Porsche 911 Turbo S. Due to very tight rules around air traffic (and presumably, a very expensive hourly rate on the runway), we were limited to two passes on the long strip. A 0-400m (quarter-mile-ish), and a 0-1000m.

Porsche Launch

Ludicrous Launch

Now, we’ve experienced launch control on numerous vehicles in diverse settings, but as you can appreciate, this one was special. We rolled our 478kW chariot out to the start line with a cocktail of nervous energy and primal excitement, ready to engage our launch sequence:

  1. Select Sport Plus.
  2. Brake. Brake so hard it feels like you’re going to induce a cramp.
  3. Accelerator flat to the floor.
  4. Select “sport response”, aka “20 seconds of over-boost”, aka “this car is already ludicrous but why not crack a rib?”.
  5. Stare down that runway and focus on your line.
  6. Grip that perfectly shaped steering wheel like it could be your last time. Shouldn’t be too hard to visualise.
  7. Release said brake pedal like you stepped on a brown snake.
  8. Porsche flight 911, taking off.

Like a knock-out punch to the stomach, the 911 Turbo S roars off the line with a ferociousness we’ve never felt before. That combination of power, all-wheel drive, and electronic wizardry meant the traction available on the tarmac was phenomenal.

The steering becomes light in your hands as the chassis squats, seemingly trying to prevent that muscular body from popping a wheelie. It’s astonishing. For the first few seconds, we’re quite certain the majority of our internal organs were momentarily displaced. By the time we caught our breath, the speedometer was reading 200km/h and about a second later, we crossed the 400m line in what had to be around the 10-second mark. What a car.

Porsche in the sun

Predictably Perfect

This kind of oxygen thievery isn’t new to 911 Turbos, but when you take a look at the specifications of the new model, you’ll realise how high that bar has been raised yet again. The 478 kilowatts are delivered via the new 3,745cc, horizontally opposed, turbocharged 6-cylinder motor. Pair that with the new 8-speed PDK transmission, and the numbers speak for themselves.

The 911 Turbo S will reach 100km/h from a standstill in 2.7 seconds. 200km/h? Try 8.9 seconds. Porsche had to limit its top speed to 330km/h, you know, in case you get carried away driving on a privately booked international runway.

Down the runway

Mission Accomplished

The second pass was just as thrilling. Still coming down from the high that was our 0-400m run, we had to quickly replenish the oxygen in our lungs, dry our hands, and then head back for the 0-1000m dash. As we’d never gone north of 300km/h in a road car before, we knew we’d have to get creative. After a quick chat with our instructor, we agreed that a tucked rear wing and a rolling start should get that milestone number to appear.

So, with sport mode selected and “sport response” engaged, we lined up the husky German and snapped the throttle. Ouch, there goes the other rib. Apparently, you don’t get used to those G forces, as our stomach started doing backflips yet again. As we passed the 400m sign, we were already north of 240km/h.

The drainage grooves in the tarmac provide a crazy whining sound that almost drowns out the howl of that brutal flat 6 behind you, 280, 290… Your eyes and brain start communicating in another language as they try and process the vortex that’s appearing before them. Then, the magical 300km/h. Our chuckles were loud but brief, as a rapidly appearing body of water meant we needed to firmly squeeze those massive ceramic composite brakes and get the car turned in by the final exit. Mission accomplished.

Parked next to each other

A New Benchmark

We honestly don’t have enough superlatives for how impressive this car is. Even isolated as a single event, this car is unbelievable. But what’s even more impressive, is that you could do these passes all day, then go and pick up your partner from her flight and drive around the city as if you hadn’t just had your face pulled ten times over. We’ve never driven a car that is so perfectly civilised and uncivilised in equal parts. Many other manufacturers have improved dramatically with the everyday driveability of their supercars, 46 years on, it’s quite obvious that the Porsche 911 Turbo is still the benchmark.

We’ve been lucky enough to attend some great events over the years with some pretty special vehicles but driving a Porsche 911 Turbo S on a runway at Sydney Airport was something else entirely. We had been guilty of being complacent over its perfect performance year after year, but if there was ever a way to actualise those staggering numbers, this was it. It truly is one of the greatest sports cars ever made, and we’re very grateful for the opportunity to push its abilities in such a special setting. Long live the Porsche 911 Turbo.