As if to answer speculation about the return of a turbocharged model a rung below the 911 Turbo in its lineup, Porsche released the 944 Turbo for 1986. Aside from the blower and correspondingly lower compression (8.0:1), its engine was basically stock, but it packed a healthy new wallop: in
Per longer-standing policy, the 944 Turbo was no halfway job. For example, new ceramic inserts in the exhaust ports kept gases hotter to provide more energy for the turbo and faster catalytic converter warmup for minimal emissions. The turbo itself (again from KKK) was not only water-cooled for efficiency but gained a small electric purnp that circulated coolant through it after engine shutoff, thus avoiding oil coking of the turbo center bearing and possible damage. A boost-limiting bypass valve still supplemented the wastegate, but the DME electronics could now vary boost with rpm, providing more at low crank speeds where it’s safe, less at higher speeds. DME also now controlled ignition timing in response to signals from engine sensors of incipient knock (detonation), a traditional problem in turbomotors.
The Porsche 944 Turbo had 217 horsepower to the regular 944's 147.
The Porsche 944 Turbo turbocharged the 944's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
With all this, the Turbo had to cost more than the normal 944, and it did: initially $29,500 minimum. That was quite a “sticker shock,’’ but Porsche eased the pain somewhat by throwing in 928-style seats with electric front and rear height adjusters, plus headlight washers and more uptown cabin trim. Options now included a power sunroof ($695).
The Turbo didn’t overwhelm magazine types as much as the original 944, perhaps because it cost so much more and wasn’t as easy to drive. Car and Driver, for instance, lauded acceleration and top speed but noted that “the Turbo feels more muscle-bound than powerful” at lower velocities. “Unless you punish either the tires or the clutch by starting hard enough to keep the turbo on the boil, the [car] feels sluggish off the line; flooring the throttle after normal clutch engagement produces little response for at least a second. And in top [fifth] gear, the Turbo requires 14.7 seconds to accelerate from 30 to 50 mph, versus 12.0 for the standard car.”
Nevertheless, C/D judged the 944 Turbo as “not only fast but well rounded...very competitive with the 911 Carrera and 928S. [While it] makes its driver work harder to generate the straight-line performance that the others produce effortlessly...the Turbo delivers much of the 928S’s comfort and refinement for about $20,000 less. And it demands less skill to drive quickly than the slightly more expensive Carrera.”
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The 944 sported "telephone dial" wheels and rear tires wider than the fronts.
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