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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Porsche's unlikely tip for saving the planet

AS NOBLE callings go saving the planet isn’t exactly glamorous. Sorting out recyclables from household rubbish, paying 5p for shopping bags and sticking solar panels on your roof isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams.

Happily, this worthy-but-dull drive to keep the environmentalists happy needn’t extend to driving itself. As long as you’ve got a spare £76,412 lying down the back of the sofa it’s now entirely possible to help save the planet – by buying a turbocharged Porsche 911.

In fact, buying a turbocharged sports car is now the ONLY option you’ve got if you want a brand new 911 (which, I suspect, most of you do). There are all sorts of complicated explanations for why turbochargers are beneficial but the end result is a sort of automotive alchemy where weedy engines can be persuaded to work harder than bigger, heavier ones.

Anyone who went to school in the Eighties will already have learned from their bedroom walls that Porsche knows a fair bit about using turbos to eke a little extra out of the 911. In fact you’ll be pleased to learn that even in the latest model range there’ll be a proper 911 Turbo. Turbochargers went on to make Formula One cars unfeasibly fast (until they were banned) and flame-spitting rally cars a bit too tricky to handle, and in the 1990s your diesel hatchback wasn’t complete without one. Unlike hybrids and electric cars, turbocharging has instant petrolhead currency too. For anyone who disagrees, I present the Volvo T5, the Audi Quattro, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth and the Mitsubishi Evo.

But this time Porsche’s been clever. It’s used turbochargers as an excuse to make the 911’s engines smaller and – here’s the important bit – more efficient and kinder to the environment. Where the outgoing Carrera had a 3.4-litre flat six, this one makes do with just three litres, and you’ll get more to the gallon too. It’s essentially the same trick Honda’s pulled off with its diesel offerings – swapping a 2.2-litre engine for an equally gutsy 1.6-litre – and the magic ingredient that makes Ford’s paperweight of an Ecoboost engine work is the hoofing great turbocharger it’s married to.

So there you have it – you can tell your Greenpeace pals that the new 911 is entirely sensible as green-minded purchases go. Just don’t tell them it’s 20bhp more powerful and seven seconds quicker around the Nürburgring or you’re stuffed.

Coincidentally this is Life On Cars' 911th post. Spooky or what?

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