2012 Porsche 911 Turbo 997.2 vs. 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S 993

2020 Daniel Pullen and Drive-My EN/UK

The mighty Turbo S is the benchmark for road-going 911 performance. We drive a stand-out iteration from both the air and water-cooled eras. Written by Tim Pitt. Photography by Daniel Pullen.


Rare Turbos

We take a look at two models representing key moments in the Turbo S tapestry

Porsche only made 345 examples of the ultimate air-cooled 911 Turbo. Until 20 years later, that is, when 993 Turbo S number 346 belatedly left Stuttgart. That car was Project Gold, a one-off by Porsche Classic with golden yellow metallic paint inspired by the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Series. Sold at auction in 2018, with proceeds going to the Ferry Porsche Foundation, its £2.3 million hammer price owed more to philanthropy than skyrocketing 993 values. Nonetheless, it showed the esteem in which the Turbo S is held.

2012 Porsche 911 Turbo 997 vs. 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S 993

2012 Porsche 911 Turbo 997 vs. 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S 993

The book on the water-cooled Turbo is still being written – we’ll profile the new 992 later in this issue – so using the word ‘ultimate’ feels premature. However, we think the 2011-2013 997 Turbo S is the high watermark thus far. A low-volume model like the 993, it boasts ferocious performance, everyday usability and pukka special-edition status. Maybe if we start lobbying now, Porsche Classic will resurrect this former flagship in 2031. If any car is quick enough to turn back time (twice), it’s the Turbo.

“The 997 Turbo S isn’t just a fire-and-forget missile – it’s a real driver’s car”

You might recognise this eye-popping Speed yellow 993 Turbo S, which is one of just 23 in right-hand drive. It manages to make Project Gold look overpriced and understated. Owned by Anthony Pozner of Hendon Way Motors, it first featured in Drive-My back in 2012 – when it was worth around £80,000. Today, that figure is more like £300,000, yet that doesn’t dissuade him from adding to its 67,000 miles. “The car won its class at Salon Privé in 2018,” Pozner explains. “Derek Bell, who judged the 911s, liked that it’s still driven and not a trailer queen.”

2012 Porsche 911 Turbo 997 vs. 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S 993

2012 Porsche 911 Turbo 997 vs. 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S 993

The S resembles a 993 Turbo after a month on the Insanity workout. There are quad tailpipes and new intakes in the front bumper and behind the doors (the latter diverting air to the brakes, not the intercooler). The rear wing is a two-piece affair, with shrunken GT2-style inlets at its outer edges (which do feed the intercooler). And the hollowspoke Technologie-Rad alloys house beefed-up brakes: eight-piston at the front, four at the rear. Note the yellow calipers don’t yet signify PCCB carbon ceramics – these debuted on the 996 GT2 in 2001.

Speaking of carbon fibre, the 993’s interior is positively slathered in the stuff. It covers the dashboard, door cards and handles, along with parts of the steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake. The effect is weight-saving as well as cosmetic, but doubtless looked impressive in 1998 – years before carbon became a supercar staple. Elsewhere, you’ll spot hard-backed leather seats and coloured seatbelts; buyers could opt for black, red or yellow.

No prizes for guessing which colour belts this 911 has. As for the dazzling yellow dials and polished wheels, they’re the work of Porsche Exclusive (called the Sonderwunsch department until 1986), which customised the Turbo S on the production line in Zuffenhausen. Indeed, the 993 Turbo and Turbo S earn the distinction of being the very last hand-built 911s. This particular car was assembled and registered in February 1998, well after the 996 Carrera had commenced (mass) production.

I’m still ogling the 993 when editor Lee arrives in the 997 Turbo S. He’s driven to Hendon from nearby Hexagon Classics, where this 2012 example with 17,000 miles is up for Ј89,995. That may seem steep for a car that cost Ј123,263 when new (Ј130,791 for the Cabriolet) – especially now the 991.1 Turbo S has depreciated to a similar level – but only 2,000 examples were made in what was a run-out special of the 997 era, rather than simply a Turbo upgrade as per the 991.1.

Finished in stark Carrera white with a colour-coded splitter and retro sill stripes, the 997 also performs its share of street theatre. A few details, notably the glittery front DRLs and jewel-like rear lenses, seem of their time, yet its overall styling has hardly aged. Perhaps Porsche is onto something with this evolutionary approach. RS Spyder centrelock alloys and yellow calipers are the main Turbo S giveaways – aside from that evocative script on the engine lid, of course.

Plenty more sets the ‘S’ apart inside, where it boasts adaptive seats in two-tone leather, cruise control and a CD auto-changer, plus the seven-speed PDK transmission with modified shift paddles. Handling hardware includes PTV torque vectoring, PCCB brakes and Sport Chrono Plus with dynamic engine mounts and launch control. The premium over a Turbo was Ј16,876: the same – or near-as-dammit – as ticking all those options. So technically, you actually got the added firepower of the Turbo S for free.

Ah yes, performance: the raison d’etre of the 911 Turbo since 1975. We’ll come to the 993 shortly, but the 997’s stats are even more startling. Thanks to larger compressor wheels in the variable-vane turbos, bigger intercoolers, an ECU remap, raised boost pressure and a carbon-fibre airbox, power climbs 30hp to 530hp: equal to the 997 GT2. A mighty 700Nm of torque, meanwhile, matches a 997.2 Turbo with optional Sport Chrono overboost, but the ‘S’ delivers full wallop without the driver switching to Sport mode. In practical terms, that means 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds and 195mph.

Sadly, I won’t be verifying either of those figures on the way out of London. The remnants of morning rush hour clog the North Circular and traffic crawls at a glacial pace. Still, who’s complaining? Many supercars – and make no mistake, the Turbo S is a supercar – would be tiresome here, yet the 997 is no harder to drive than a hatchback. Its suspension smothers urban pockmarks and its 3.8-litre engine emits a muted rumble as the PDK ’box shuffles gently from first to second, then back to first again. No wonder city boys love ’em.

Finally, we peel off onto the M1 slip road, with Lee taking the lead. The 993 hunkers on its haunches, then launches like Bananaman flying fist-first at the horizon. Gauntlet duly thrown, I bump the shifter across into manual and bury the throttle. Acceleration feels unabating from 3,000rpm upwards, compressing my internal organs as the 997 reels in its ancestor like a predator hunting its own.

Numbers on the digital speedo multiply like scores on a pinball machine and the Mezger flat six finds its voice: a pneumatic snarl that seems to hacksaw the atmosphere in half.

After a brief rendezvous to breathlessly compare notes, we set out on a loop of rural Hertfordshire. As we pass Go (a National Speed Limit sign), I switch to Sport Plus. Now, throttle response is hair-trigger sharp and each lengthy pull of the right paddle elicits a brutal ker-chunk. If anything, going fast actually feels too easy; having passed Go, you can Go To Jail within, well, about five seconds. But the 997 Turbo S isn’t just a fire-and-forget missile – it’s a real driver’s car, too.

On hedge-lined lanes, I’m thankful for the 997’s relatively slim hips, some 48mm narrower than a new 992 Turbo S. Its hydraulic power steering is lucid but not fidgety, while its chassis is focused and seemingly unflappable. There’s little evidence of the fabled ‘pendulum effect’ here: just precise turn-in, adjustable cornering balance and tenacious four-wheel traction.

“It’s a flowing, one-two uppercut: exuberant until 4,200rpm, utterly explosive thereafter”

In the dry at least, oversteer is something you provoke, not a side-effect to catch you unawares. Time to swap cars. The 993’s 3.6-litre engine relies on a single spark plug per cylinder, but larger KKK K16 turbochargers, spikier camshafts and a remap (effectively the optional X50 upgrade) boost output to 450hp – a useful 42hp gain over the Turbo. In 1998, that made it the fastest production 911 to date. Surprisingly, it weighs just 2kg less than the 997, so performance isn’t quite as apocalyptic. Yet this Turbo S remains a pulse-spiking prospect, hitting 62mph in 4.1 seconds and 186mph.

Stepping into the 993 requires some mental recalibration. Its cabin feels confined, the quarterlights obscure the door mirrors and the steering wheel and floor-mounted pedals are both skewed towards the centre. There’s also nowhere to stash your mobile phone or takeaway latte macchiato cup, and infotainment is limited to a DIN radio with a CD holder between the seats. Luckily, the air-cooled six provides all the soundtrack you need. It whirrs and coughs and thrashes, then it intensifies to a savage yowl.

What takes me aback is the limited lag. The 993 uses one turbo per cylinder bank, but Lee compares its swelling surge to the sequential twin-turbo setup in the Porsche 959. Kept in-check by long gear ratios, it’s a flowing, one-two uppercut: exuberant until 4,200rpm, utterly explosive thereafter. The uprated stoppers stand up to modern scrutiny, too, while a weighty clutch and notchy six-speed manual offer more involvement than any pair of paddles.

On rollercoaster A-roads, the older Turbo S feels fabulously aggressive, hugging the tarmac as its elastic engine surfs a wave of decadent boost. Even now, it could rule the outside lane of a German Autobahn. On poor-quality B-roads, though, the 993 can lose composure. Its taut suspension jitters and jolts where the 997 stays fluid, while mid-corner bumps may deflect it off-line. Equally, the steering, which relays everything in delicious detail, can fight with your wrists when the road gets rough. It’s a bit of a wake-up call after the newer car, yet makes for a more visceral drive.

As I cruise back down the M1 towards London, an HGV driver delivers an approving honk and a man in a BMW offers a grinning thumbs-up. The vivid yellow paint surely helps, but I didn’t get any reaction in the newer car – and perhaps that’s the point. Driving the ultra-rare 993 Turbo S seems like a special occasion, something to be savoured. By contrast, the 997 is still a consummate all-rounder, a special 911 for every occasion.

This isn’t a comparison test. One Turbo S is more than triple the price of the other, for a start, and they are so different it’s hard to believe they were launched just 13 years apart. However, they ably demonstrate the excitement and variety of experience within just a small facet of the 911 canon. That’s why this one sports car (or in this case, supercar) still fascinates us – and surely will do for decades to come.

Thanks Many thanks to Hendon Way Motors (020 8202 8011) and Hexagon Classics (020 8348 5151) for the loan of the 993 and 997 respectively. Both cars are for sale.

FAR LEFT Sport and Sport Plus sharpen throttle response, but the 997 is ballistic even in normal mode. ABOVE LEFT Age of early first-gen PDK is only given away by the long pull of each wheel-mounted paddle. LEFT Carbon-fibre air box with unique design was exclusive to the 997 Turbo S. ABOVE 450hp flat six builds power nicely through the revs, whereas max 997 boost arrives early. TOP LEFT Carbon-fibre trim along dashboard, on handbrake and on door pulls were from a time when the material wasn’t commonly found on sports cars.


A brief history of the 911 Turbo S

You can never have too much of a good thing, which is perhaps why every iteration of 911 Turbo has spawned a more powerful ‘S’ variant. Extreme, exotic and exclusive, they sit at the pinnacle of road car performance for their respective eras. The story starts with the little-known 930 S, a Sonderwunsch special that was badged SE or LE in the UK (the former with 935-style pop-up headlamps and slatted side intakes, the latter with a traditional 911 front end and flanks). Either way, a Powerkit with a larger KKK turbocharger lifts output from 300hp to 330hp.

The 964 Turbo S ‘Leichtbau’ is a rare beast indeed. In essence a boosted Rennsport, rather than a luxurious super-GT, it offers 381hp, RS suspension and 180kg less weight. Only 81 were built, plus 76 Flatnose versions with exposed, 928- look lamps.

We’ve covered the subsequent 993 here, but it’s worth reiterating what a step change it was. Thanks to four-wheel drive, it banished the wayward reputation of the Turbo S for good. Two things that didn’t change were the air-cooled engine – now making 450hp – and tiny production numbers. Only 345 were made.

The Turbo S entered the water-cooled era with the 996 and 997. These were limited-edition models (1,563 and 2,000 cars respectively) with added power and bountiful equipment, including PCCB brakes. The 996 musters 450hp and the 997 530hp – both 30hp gains over the Turbo.

For the 991 generation, the Turbo S joined the mainstream 911 range. Hallmarks of the 997, such as PDK and centre-lock wheels, were carried over, and the performance reached new heights. The 560hp 991.1 Turbo S blasts to 62mph in 3.1 seconds, while the 580hp 991.2 needs just 2.9 seconds. Finally, there’s the new Turbo S: the current 992 range-topper. With a 650hp flat six and eight-speed PDK ’box, it promises 62mph in a scarcely believable 2.7 seconds. Watch this space for a review.


2012 Porsche 911 Turbo S 997.2

Year 2012


Capacity 3,800cc

Compression ratio 9.8:1

Maximum power 530hp @ 6,250-6,750rpm

Maximum torque 700Nm @ 2,100-4,250rpm

Transmission Seven-speed PDK auto


Front Independent; MacPherson struts; coil springs; anti-roll bar

Rear Independent; multi-link; coil springs; anti-roll bar

Wheels & tyres

Front 8.5×19-inch 235/35/ZR19

Rear 11×19-inch 305/30/ZR19


Length 4,435mm

Width 1,852mm

Weight 1,585kg


0-62mph 3.3sec

Top speed 195mph

{module PORSCHE 997}


1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S 993

Year 1998


Capacity 3,600cc

Compression ratio 8.0:1

Maximum power 450hp @ 5,750rpm

Maximum torque 585Nm @ 4,500rpm

Transmission Six-speed manual


Front MacPherson struts; transverse arms; coil springs

Rear Multi-link LSA axle

Wheels & tyres

Front 8×18-inch 225/40/ZR18

Rear 10×18-inch 285/30/ZR18


Length 4,245mm

Width 1,795mm

Weight 1,583kg


0-62mph 4.1sec

Top speed 186mph

{module PORSCHE 993}


How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Additional Info
  • Body: Coupe
  • Type: Petrol
  • Battery: 12 volt
  • Aspirate: Turbo
  • Drive: AWD
  • Type: Petrol