In 1985 Porsche introduced a four-cylinder model, the company’s first Porsche’s front-engined family and one that finally matched up with the high-performance 911s: the 944 Turbo.
The 944’s four-stroke in-line all-alloy four-cylinder engine, rated at 165kW gave at a maximum speed of over 245 km/h. With a bore and stroke of 100 x 78.9 mm the 2479 cc engine had a lower compression ratio than in a normally aspirated unit, so that it could comfortably accept the forced induction from the intercooled KKK turbocharger.
A sophisticated Bosch ‘black box’ took care of engine management for the L-Jetronic fuel injection by adjusting fuel feed and ignition timing to give optimum efficiency as it monitored engine parameters such as boost pressure, throttle position and manifold temperature. Introduced at a time when some markets had brought in strict emission controls which often had the effect of enfeebling engine performance, turbo boost pressure in the 944 Turbo could be appropriately increased and the ‘black box’ re-programmed.
The body of the 944 was also refined to match the turbo performance. By fitting a rear spoiler that reduced lift’ gave much improved directional stability and resulted in an impressive drag factor of 0.33. Although high performance cars in the 1980s were not always renowned for having good driver visibility the 944 had excellent driver visibility as well as precise and balanced handling.
With rack and pinion steering and a front suspension comprising MacPherson struts with coil springs as well as wishbone rear suspension with semi-trailing arms and torsion bars, exemplary power steering and a firm reassuring ride coupled with a high degree of comfort for two – those in the seat behind did not fare so well – was the result. Ventilated disc brakes front and rear ensured that this Porsche stopped as well as it went.
Indeed the 944 Turbo proved to be the car that Porsche fans had hoped the distant 924 predecessor would have been in 1979 but its performance did not sit happily with its high price.