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2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S Review (video)

My mother is a lovely woman who is many things to many people—but car savvy isn’t one of them. As a weekly practice, her favourite son sends a picture message of whichever car he’s reviewing to her cell phone.

Clues...
Last week, said picture message contained an image of one baby-blue 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S. To many, the 911’s classic shape defines perhaps the most instantly-recognizable performance car range on the road. To mom, it could have been the new Corolla-- but a few visual clues prompted her interesting reply.

“NICE SHADE OF BLUE. LOOKS LIKE TROUBLE, BE CAREFUL! XOXO --MOM”

“Looks like trouble”, indeed. Car enthusiast or not, giant yellow brake callipers, a wide and low stance and no fewer than 6 air ducts chiselled into the vehicle’s body are all universal signs of ‘fast’.

Fast as hell
And forget what you know about ‘fast’. Plant your right foot in the Porsche 911 Turbo S from a dig, and this German-engineered cruise missile leaps forward on a surge of power that pins those on board effortlessly into their seats. Thanks to AWD and about 4 feet of combined contact patch, there’s no traction-related drama, either. It’s like God booted the car in its backside with a soccer-kick from the heavens.

Then, a whiff later, the twin, variable-geometry turbochargers kick in-- and all heck breaks loose. “Explosive” is likely the best non-expletive to begin describing the acceleration.

Zero to 100 km/h is dispensed with in well under 3 seconds-- meaning there’s virtually nothing faster with four wheels with a warranty on this side of a million dollars. At full throttle, you don’t breathe in the 911 Turbo S, since the air is being squeezed out of your lungs.

Opened up, the Turbo S puts drivers into ‘hang the heck on’ territory. Passengers drop their jaws and repeated F-Bombs in the process. It’s absolutely wild.

A twin-turbo symphony of sorts
The twin turbochargers rob the engine of a truly exotic exhaust note, instead leaving a dull hum and the sound of hissing air in the vehicle’s wake. From inside, a melody of wheezing and whining from the turbochargers and gearbox overlap one another—since the engine itself is actually fairly quiet. It literally sounds like a jet taking off—and there’s a muffled array of ‘popping’ noises at throttle lift-off as the exhaust cracks and burbles.

Extreme hardware and software
The rocket-booster thrust comes courtesy of a 3.8 litre twin-turbo and direct injected flat six sitting in the rear. Output is rated at 530 horsepower—or some 30 more than the standard Turbo. A 7-speed PDK transmission is included on all models, as is AWD, and all the optional goodies from the standard car. Heck, it’s even got adaptive motor mounts.

Handling and braking back things up, and the Turbo S handles like any high-powered, rear-engine Porsche-- with a sticky rear and a light and lively front that gets vague and loose when powering out of corners at full throttle. On a track, braking, acceleration and grip are all delivered in absolute excess.

Of course, wizardry in chassis electronics maximizes the effectiveness of all systems, putting the brunt of the Turbo S’ incredible talents at the driver’s fingertips from the get-go. There’s no scrubbing, wheelspin, drifting or protesting. Just aim the steering, squeeze the throttle, point the nose, and try not to grin like an 8th grader in sex-ed class.

End of the day, the Turbo S doesn’t just defy the laws of physics, it ties them up, gives them an atomic wedgie, and writes its name on them in permanent Sharpie.
 
High-impact exclusivity
Equally impressive is the strange things the Turbo S makes people do. Even during my December test-drive, entire rows of motorists at traffic lights rolled down their windows to catch a whiff of the tester’s exhaust note as it pulled away. Drivers of lesser German cars raced through traffic for a closer look. Crowds formed at gas stations and grocery store parking lots, too.

The snowstorm
But when the weather gets nasty, one can forget the fast stuff—as driving the Porsche 911 Turbo S through a few hundred kilometres worth of Northern Ontario’s worst winter weather is a far more laid back and peaceful experience. This is not a snowbank-busting SUV to be sure—but in most situations, the tester felt reasonably well locked down to the snow, even if a perpetual squirming was apparent in the deeper stuff. Blame this on the wide snow tires and light curb weight.

But, importantly, it always goes where its pointed, has a diligent stability control system, and never once got ‘scary’ on your writer after some 600 kilometres in winter driving hell. Even stopped on a snowy hill, the AWD traction and hill-hold function ensure the 911 Turbo S gets moving in quick order when called upon. So, really, you don’t ‘need’ to store this one for wintertime.

Sensible, actually
And not that it really matters, but the Turbo S also gets surprisingly good mileage when driven gently, isn’t terribly rough and uncomfortable, has good visibility and is easy to board and exit. That’s not the case for a number of other supercars available for this sort of money—namely, about two hundred thousand dollars.

In fact, compared to an SLS or an R8, the Turbo S is nearly as sensible as a Honda Accord. End of the day, it’s a road-going rocket-propelled grenade that could be used every day of the year.

Hope you’ve got a good traffic lawyer.
2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S
porsche 911 2011
2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S
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