In 1985 Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, a higher-performance variant, known internally as the 951 (952 for right-hand drive models). This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 hp (217 in the US) at 6000 rpm. The turbo was the world’s first car using a ceramic portliner to lower temperatures inside the engine. The Turbo also featured several other revisions, such as improved aerodynamics, a strengthened gearbox, wider wheels, and up-rated suspension. Major engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat.
In 1988 Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine with 247bhp (compared to the standard 944 Turbo’s 220 or 217bhp) and 250 ft lb (339 Nm) torque (versus 243 ft lb). This higher output was achieved by using a larger turbo housing on the exhaust side, a remapped engine computer, and larger sodium cooled exhaust valves. In June of 1988, ‘Car and Driver’ tested the 944 Turbo S and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 13.9 seconds at 101 mph. This made the 944 Turbo S the fastest production four cylinder car of its time.
The 944 Turbo S’s suspension was significantly upgraded with Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, ride height adjustment threaded collars on the front struts, progressive springs, larger rear torsion bars, harder bushings throughout, and larger sway bars front and rear. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16 inch forged and flat-dished, similar to the contemporary 928. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 8 inches in the rear; sizes of the Z-rated tires were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The transmission of the 944 Turbo S had hardened first and second gears, an external cooler to deal with the extra power, and a standard limited slip differential with a 40% lockup. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger callipers and rotors; ABS was also standard.
In 1989 the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbo’s featured the ‘S’ package as standard. The regular 944’s displacement was increased to 2.7 litres.
In February 1991 Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250bhp engine with the cabriolet body. Porsche initially announced that 500 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right hand drive for the United Kingdom market. None were imported to the US.