Review and photos by
Peter Bleakney, CanadianDriver.com
I have been fortunate enough to pilot the 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S at Mosport International Raceway and thrash it over the temporary course set up for AJAC’s TestFest at the Niagara Regional Airport. I know how astonishingly fast this car is, and how its all-wheel-drive and clever electronic aids, in conjunction with an intangible user friendliness can provide mere mortals a portal to heroic levels of speed and car control.
I also suspect I barely tapped into the Turbo S’s potential. So when given the opportunity to drive the very same 530-hp rocket in the dead of Ontario winter (shod with expensive 235/35ZR-19 front and 305/30ZR-19 rear Pirelli snow tires, thank you), I jumped at it. Not without some trepidation, mind. Like inviting Halle Berry over to rewire your home, this exercise could have gone in all kinds of directions. Appropriately, the 911 was finished in Ice Blue Metallic.
Turns out this king-of-the-hill Turbo is reassuringly secure, not to mention quite a hoot in the white stuff. For sure the insane torque (516 lb.-ft. from 2,100 to 4,250 rpm) will easily overpower the tires’ grip, but with prudent throttle application (and a deserted back road) it’s fun to explore the Porsche’s balance, stability control parameters and throttle-induced oversteer at reasonable velocities.
A great educational experience, and with these cars, so much information filters through that you always know exactly what’s going on down below.
Funny thing about the Turbo S, it will accelerate faster on a snow-covered road than most cars can on a dry road. And on a dry road, well, you can count the number of production vehicles on one hand that are even in the same ballpark. Off the top of my head, the Porsche GT2 RS, Nissan GT-R, Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 and Bugatti Veyron (fair enough, a slightly different ballpark).
Porsche Canada’s recent price adjustments have seen the Turbo S Coupe’s sticker drop by $16,800 from the previous 200 grand to $183,400, making this pressurized 911 (with some justification) a screamin’ good deal. Please contain your laughter.
Here’s the logic. A heavily optioned “regular” 911 Turbo Coupe (base $165,300) with its 500-hp, 516 lb.-ft. 3.8-litre twin-turbo direct-injection flat-six can easily approach the 200 g mark, so why not let Porsche do the work of checking those option boxes while also reaping the benefit of 30 extra horsepower and a few bits not available otherwise?
Porsche expects the “S” to account for 70 per cent of 911 Turbo sales in Europe.
The power jump comes from increased boost pressure and different valve-timing, and the S gets slightly modified front-suspension geometry, giving it more precise steering feel.
Standard kit includes ceramic composite brakes, racy centre-lock 19-inch RS Spyder alloys, 7-speed twin-clutch PDK transmission with proper wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Sport Chrono Package, adaptive sport seats, twin-hue leather interior, active engine mounts, active suspension management, brake-based torque vectoring on the rear axles, adaptive bending headlights and a more open exhaust note.
Which is about all you could ever need or want in this all-wheel-drive icon: yes, Porsche will paint your Turbo S fuchsia pink and line the interior with emu skin if you want, but that’s your problem.
Oh, there is one more thing. Heated seats will set you back 600 bucks. This car didn’t have them, and they were sorely missed.
That said, the driving position, as with all 911s, is about all you can ask for. You sit upright, forward visibility is excellent, the seats strike a magical balance of comfort and support, and all the major controls are exactly where you limbs and feet want them.
By the numbers, the Turbo S knocks 0.1 seconds off the 0-100 km/h dash (3.3 seconds), tops out at 315 km/h and, rather incredibly, accelerates from 80-120 km/h in 2 seconds.
Sport mode brings the Turbo S’s talent into sharper focus, firming up the suspension, throttle response quickens, the PDK shifts later and more rapidly, and the stability-control system intervenes later. The Sport Plus setting activates launch control and gives even more aggressive shift mapping.
Above all, the Turbo S, like its brethren, is a comfortable, every day, all weather, beautifully constructed ballistic supercar. Is it that much better than the base 911 Turbo? Yes. But in the way that Mount Everest is higher than K2.
Pricing: 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S
Base price: $183,400
Options: $1,230 (aluminum PDK shift lever and handbrake)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $185,815
Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)