It felt like the start of a catastrophic moment, before the genius of this simple conversion kicked in at the same time as the Deep Blue-style Porsche computers.
Horses that can be harnessed
When a man gets too much power ugly things can happen, political opponents start disappearing from their homes in the dead of night, the people go hungry and the emperor drives round in a gold plated car, yacht, and private plane. It’s a totally pointless, brash and rather vulgar display of wealth, but anyone that objects tends to end up in a pit, with electrodes attached to sensitive places.
The car world is a far more wholesome place, yet there are those that have left all reason behind in the pursuit of power, just like those crazed dictators in far-off worlds. Now a Porsche 911 Turbo is barely considered tuned unless it has 700bhp+ and spits fire when it starts up, so it’s encouraging to hear the voice of sanity, Edo Karebogowiz, explain how power is far from everything and his 550bhp Shark can wipe the floor with the more powerful models thanks to a balanced approach.
With more than 600bhp you’re looking at new conrods, he argues, and then new pistons and cylinders to get beyond 700bhp. And if the torque strays too high then spikes in the curve can take an irrational toll on the differential, or burn it out completely. So that needs to be uprated and the point of diminishing returns can go flying past the window in a blur of wasted horsepower.
And then there are the stories of one of the world’s most reliable engines going pop under duress, and when it’s boosted beyond all reason then you don’t need to look too deep into the fine print to realise the guarantee probably won’t cover the damage.
Edo is a race engineer and believes in the holistic method of producing the fastest possible car round a track, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as the most powerful machine in existence. He only likes horses that can be harnessed, his is a triumph of handling and set-up, finesse over brute power. It also happens to be one of the most entertaining Turbos in recent times.
After the old 930 gained a reputation as a widowmaker Porsche has moved consistently to understeer and that just doesn’t work on a hard charge. “The 997 Turbo is a quick street car,” he said. “But you need three cracks at a corner because it just doesn’t have the feel and when it switches power to the front it pulls into understeer. A GT3 is a much more flowing car for a good driver and that kind of experience is what we try to recreate with the Turbo.”
And with that he sent us on our way, to the surrounding roads that are an intoxicating blend of high-speed sweepers and low speed, twisting corners. It took one bend to see what he was on about, as the back end swung round with just a little too much power on the way on. It felt like the start of a catastrophic moment, before the genius of this simple conversion kicked in at the same time as the Deep Blue-style Porsche computers.
As the back end swings the four-wheel-drive feeds power to the front and holds the car in a neutral-oversteer stance the whole way through the bend with no meaningful input required at the wheel. After the frustrating push-on attitude of the standard car it was a thing of beauty: all the feel, drama and tear-jerking joy of a GT3 with none of the risk.
With the help of partner KW Suspension Edo has turned an undoubtedly fast yet deliberately blunted machine into a fine-tuned razor. Thrown into a tight bend the back end steps out in dramatic style and then simply hits the apex, catapults out and sends the car at the next bend as if elastic were involved. It’s a disconcerting feeling, but took just three corners to get used to and five more to fall in love with. With the nose feeling for the limit on one sweeping right-hander with triple figure speeds on the clock I finally felt 100 per cent in touch with every one of the wheels on the Turbo – although it helps that they’re super lightweight OZ Ultraleggeras that reduce the unsprung mass significantly.
And with 550bhp at its disposal it’s more than fast enough, hitting 62mph in a much sharper 3.5s and topping out at an almost unbelievable 210mph. With the help of a new air intake, engine management and exhaust system this machine has now changed from the civilised everyman’s supercar ito a wailing banshee and the exhaust note, rorty, tough and booming, is worth the price of admission all on its own.
Edo opted for a soft touch on the brakes, too. Whereas others are filling humongous wheels with acres of steel and caliper, in Ahlen they simply throw GT3 pads at the standard discs. And while the brakes squeal a little when cold, they tend not to stay that way for long in his customer’s hands and with heat in them they work just as effectively as any expensive upgrade on the market.
Races are won on the brakes, after all, and this is the fastest car round a track. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement of the cheapest upgrade available for the anchors, then I’d like to know what is. Of course if you really want them he has a set of 370mm discs, but in a rare display of respect for the budget from a tuner, he says you don’t really need them.
As for the aero set-up, the new front lip spoiler, side skirts and rear wing almost certainly help the high-speed stability, but a heavy police presence on our trip to Ahlen prevented too much exploration of the car’s outer limits. From a visual perspective dropping the nose that fraction closer to the floor serves to compact that fat from end and provide a touch of testosterone missing from the base car, too, even if it is dangerously close to the deck and driving hard in the wrong terrain will result in the odd lost splitter. Compared to some of the other bejewelled tuned Porsches on the market, though, it’s an exercise in discretion.
It was a little strange heading to a tuner and finding all this temperance, moderation and understatement, so it was almost a relief to hear that a man who I have so much respect for as a tuner and engineer is still just a little bit mad, of a fashion. See he left the best till last, this car is fitted with intercoolers that cost a heart attack-inducing €18,000 – so all that money saved is blown in one fell swoop.
But there’s a reason. Edo reckons without the proper cooling then all the horsepower in the world won’t stay there for long and when the car hats up the power will tail off on many of his rivals’ machines. He is the only one to use the units from Secam, which supplies the F1 grid with their coolers, and swears they are worth their weight in gold, which arguably would have been cheaper.
On a day like this it’s simply impossible to verify such claims, but when a guy with this much skill, and respect within the industry, suggests this is the best engine upgrade money can buy and the rest is simply window dressing, it’s hard not to buy it. This, after all, is not a power crazed dictator, this is the man that makes the fastest Porsche Turbo out there today.
Of all the tuned Turbos I’ve driven in recent times, this is the one I’d take home, and he didn’t even have to attach the electrodes to make me say it.