Ive driven only a 959 before, very briefly and many years ago, but a lot of what I can see and touch is generic middle-aged 911. I can operate without thinking about it, let alone having to pay tuition. When the engine is started, its sound is that of an air-cooled 911, even though it is one of the most extraordinary engines that has found its way into a road car. Its a 2.85-liter engine when the 911 of its time had a 3.2-liter engine and turbochargers that didnt run in parallel, but in series: a small turbocharger to roll up quickly and minimize the lethargy of low revs, moving to a much larger turbocharger once the revs went up. Not only that, but it came with water-cooled double cam heads with four valves per cylinder. The truth is that it was a much closer relative of the Le Mans 962 car engine than any other Porsche on the road.
However, it is silent and easy to treat. The clutch is smooth, the gearbox is well designed and precise. And then you get firm and the character of the car changes. There is a distant whistle when the car accelerates the pace. Theres a lot more delay than in the 992, of course, but it feels strong as the revs increase. The chassis feels smoother, much smoother than the 992, and the old 911 nose bob cant be lost, but this beloved old man is doing well – pulling hard, holding his head against a car born a whole generation later. And then…
And then you get to 4800rpm. Thats where the big turbo comes in. Immediately, you realize that, so far, the car has barely tried. It doesnt push you back in your seat: it hits you backwards. The revs are going up a lot faster than in 992, so now you need another gear, fast. The proportions are perfect because the needle drops to exactly 4800rpm and the whole show starts again. By 2019 standards, this 959 is a surprisingly fast machine. In 1986, it must have felt like an artillery shell.
For a moment, I wonder why your acceleration figures are so close to those of the 992, as the older car actually feels much faster. And then I realize: the old tire technology, no instant changes, no launch control, no traction control, and yet it loses only 0.1 seconds at 62 mph compared to a completely new 911.