2014 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S, fighting physics: Motoramic Drives
Since its birth from the pits of the Can-Am racing series in 1975, the Porsche 911 Turbo has stood for the idea that going fast meant putting yourself at risk. No matter the size of whale tail spoiler, or the skill of the driver, 911 Turbos were machines that could be tamed with practice but never fully domesticated.
To sample Porsche’s latest 2014 variants of its iconic turbo 911s, we ventured to Germany to take laps on the Bilster Berg racetrack, a new venue that models itself on a mini Nürburgring. With crests, yumps, bumps and ridges, any car that handles the course without staining its occupant’s underwear remains highly impressive. Prior to embarking on track, I chose a pair of black Calvins. Just in case.
It’s easy to complain about the lack of evolution when it comes to Porsche designs. The 911, especially, seems to have lost its brutish demeanor in favor of a more sleek approach, but with the 2014 Turbo and Turbo S, wider rear shoulders induces a more evil stance, while a wider front distorts that image. From behind, it looks like a turbo should, but from the front, it remains subdued. Still, that wideness helps keep the car planted through the turns.
And that seems to remain the playbook for the 911 Turbo and Turbo S; sacrifice character in the name of capability. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.
Power derives from the notorious 3.8-liter flat-six, with the Turbo boasting 520 hp while the Turbo S delivers 560 hp; a 20 and 30 hp gain over the outgoing models. Weighing around 3,500 lbs., 60 mph occurs in 3.2 and 2.9 seconds respectively, in part due to 487 and 516 lb.-ft. of torque and a highly efficient all-wheel drive system. Top speed? 198 mph.
Needless to say, with figures like that, both turbo variants are fast enough to shove you into the seat. The Turbo S has noticeably more punch prior to the turbos kicking in at 3,000 rpm, but after that, the difference remains minimal. But with a mundane exhaust note that sounds like any other 911 – albeit one with a deep rumble from the overrun resembling a distant thunderstorm — both the Turbo and Turbo S appear lightning fast but somewhat nondescript.
And that brings me to the rapid PDK 7-speed automatic gearbox (like the GT3, no manual is available. Commence the rending of enthusiast garments.) With gearshifts occurring quicker than a hummingbird flutters its wings, it remains one of the best dual clutch systems on the market. But pulling the paddle is like changing a gear in Gran Turismo 6. You feel nothing. It simply upshifts with indiscernible ease, just like the videogame. From an engineering perspective, it’s perfect, but from an engagement perspective, losing a millisecond to develop a visceral snap would add some emotion to the experience.