Porsche 911 2021 turbo s
launch-review

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S review: Launch Control... on a Sydney Airport runway

$473,900 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    11.5L
  • Engine Power
    478kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    263g
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A
I've spent plenty of time rocketing away from the runway at Sydney International Airport... but never quite like this.
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Select Sport Plus mode.

Left foot hard on the brake. No, harder. Hard enough that if feels like you'll break it.

Look up to survey the view down runway 16L/34R. Take a deep lung full of air. Exhale slowly. Focus. Take another look at the horizon. Take another deep breath for good measure. Hit the ‘push to pass’ button inside the steering wheel. Wait a second.

Nail the throttle sharply. A really sharp stab, then hold it flat.

The twin turbo flat six lights up behind you. Look up again. Concentrate. Step off the brake.

Immediately, you lose your stomach, like when you crest the summit of a steep roller coaster. Your vision will go blurry, probably for the first hundred metres or so.

By that time, you’re already well on your way to 200km/h (which takes 8.9 seconds from standstill) and everything around you is moving very, very quickly – the width of the runway, and the distance out to the horizon, unable to mask the relentless acceleration.

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There are some wild driving experiences we get to have in our work at CarAdvice, and then there are the ridiculous, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, we get to have working at CarAdvice.

I’d say Porsche closing down the third runway at Sydney International Airport so that we can experience launch control in the new 911 Turbo S fits into the latter category. Doesn’t matter that COVID-19 has shut down much of the airport’s work – closing down an international runway can’t be easy.

Still, the Turbo S keeps punching a massive hole in the air. The savagery of the acceleration is mind-bending. Not in the way the Turbo S is straining or feeling like it’s out of its comfort zone, mind you – the mechanical element of the experience is eerily calm.

The savagery comes more in the way the Turbo S is hammering you in the chest before you even realise it's happened.

Contrary to what you might think, and unlike so many other cars in which we’ve tested launch control, the Turbo S is rock-solid from the second its tyres start to turn.

It doesn’t slide side-to-side or require counter-steer correction, it doesn’t transfer masses of weight rearward, there are no groans or thuds through the driveline, and there’s barely a scrabbled tyre. Just an approximate 1.3G pounding your chest into the seat and the sound of your heart trying to pump enough blood through your system to keep you conscious.

Now, I’ve tested more launch control systems than I've pushed the magical 300km/h barrier – largely because an opportunity to utilise launch control is more accessible, more often, than the freedom to hit 300km/h. After all, you need a lot of road to push triple figures in a road car (safely).

Actually, you need a lot of road to push triple figures in a race car safely.

And yet, not even the most rapid Tesla Model S (which is bloody fast mind you) feels like it leaves the line with the authority, and physics-defying grip the new 911 Turbo S does.

It – quite literally – takes your breath away.

Drainage grooves on the runway have aided our getaway, ensuring maximum traction from launch, and the best possible chance of hammering through the 300km/h barrier at the other end of the runway. Outputs of 478kW and 800Nm channelled to an exceptional AWD system, deliver a 0-100km/h run of 2.7 seconds.

Top speed is ‘governed’ at 330km/h, and with the wind moving around a little on our final run, we still crack the 300km/h barrier, hitting 305km/h before buttoning off and concentrating on slowing down rather than accelerating.

With Sydney International Airport down on more than 90 per cent of its usual traffic, Porsche has been able to secure this incredible experience for Australian media and a select group of local owners. Even so, there is a long list of security and ID checks that need to be crossed off before you can be let loose on what is one of the world’s most iconic airfields.

I’ll certainly look at the third runway a little differently the next time I come in to land (when we’re back flying again), that’s for sure.

Perhaps even more impressive than the launch experience in the new 911 Turbo S, is the fact that the cars being used just keep lining up, again and again. They’ll be doing the same thing most of the day, too, with just the usual tyre, temperature and pressure checks to make sure everything is operating safely.

Being a Porsche, you can be sure it will be.

I’m no Porsche fanboy, I can assure you of that, but the new Turbo S is an epic car. Debates relating to unlimited budgets and what you would buy given said budgets are common in the CarAdvice office. I still fall on whatever V12 Lamborghini I can get my hands on at the time as my choice, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the Turbo S is right up at the top of the list.

We write often in reviews that supercars are more accessible than they’ve ever been, and pretty much all of them are as docile as a small hatch around town now if you want them to be. Doesn’t matter whether they have German blood, Italian, or a mix of both, running through their veins.

The Porsche 911 was the original, though.

It was the first that you could VMAX just as easily as you could run to the shops for groceries.

It remains a mighty feat of engineering however many years later.