The addition of the small S on the rear decklid of your 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S will set you back $31,600. It does, however, net you an additional 40 hp over the standard Turbo's, bringing the grand total to 560 hp out of the 3.8L twin-turbo flat-six. It also increases maximum torque from 487 to 516 lb-ft, but during brief periods of overboost, that torque spikes at a mighty 553 lb-ft. But that's not all; the S actually stands for value. Besides the power, the package gets you standard carbon-ceramic brakes, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control with Active Anti-Roll Control, Sport Chrono Package, two-tone black and red interior, 18 adaptive sports seats, center-lock mounted wheels that are half an inch wider in back, and some different grills on the front air intakes. If you were to option a standard Turbo with all those options, you would pay more than the base price of the S.
So let's start out with the surprising talent of the Porsche 911 Turbo S: commuting. I used it, one of the fastest cars in the world, on my daily commute for multiple days. My past experience with cars anywhere near this level of performance has been a mixed bag of overheated cars, overheated passengers, broken parts, and broken hearts. Cars this fast aren't normally meant to go slow, and the 405 between Orange County and Los Angeles during the Santa Ana season is the only time you will hear a 100-degree river of concrete described as glacial. The king of the Porsche 911s remains unfazed.
Have a seat, drop it in Drive, turn on the ventilated seats, don't concern yourself with Sport Modes, and the nearly two-hour-long, 30-mile drive is as comfortable as anything I've had in cars ranging from Golfs to Continental GTs. We've been saying this since the birth of the 964, but with every generation, Porsche redefines the usable supercar, and this 991-based Porsche Turbo S is no different. Visibility is great, as it's been in all 911s. Comfort has been raised a substantial few notches with the 991. The longer wheelbase and extra attention to sound and vibration are really noticeable. What really sets it apart, for those of us who've owned air-cooled 911s, is just how well everything works, even in the heat. The air conditioning components in my personal 911 didn't stay in place for more than a year of my ownership, because while it did move air, it didn't do much to the condition of it.
The ride is smooth thanks to the adaptive suspension and the fact that it's designed from the outset to perform. Most enthusiasts don't realize the key to making a car that both handles and rides well is starting at the very beginning and designing for those goals. Porsche has the luxury of putting performance before cost, so the center of gravity is low, the car is light, and the multi-link suspension is expensive to build. All of this means Porsche's engineers are starting a step ahead of cars based on economy cars.
I'm convinced that civil engineers in L.A. believe that concrete sitting in sunlight is an absolute waste. If it isn't under the shadow of a car, then you're not utilizing it. Every once in a while, I'm lucky enough to find complete swathes of road basking in the sun. In those rare instances, the Turbo S comes alive and shows a fraction of its capabilities. I say a fraction because you can't use even half the performance on public roads. Those 560 hp reel in anything lying ahead of the hood in blurred streaks of light. It will go around freeway ramps at speeds so high, you can't see more than a few seconds ahead. Luckily, the Turbo S is still a joy to drive at half speed.
Once at the track, the Porsche Turbo S becomes a supercar. Suddenly, it isn't held back by silly things like legality and a healthy sense of self-preservation. Acceleration runs start with launch control, meaning you, your mother, or even a well-positioned brick could match our acceleration times. Put the car in Sport Plus mode, one foot on the brake, one pinning the throttle to the floor. Sidestep the brake and you hit 60 mph in 2.6 seconds, faster than anything costing less than $800,000 dollars, seriously. A 918 does it in 2.4 seconds and the once untouchable Veyron in 2.5 seconds. With these kinds of forces, you become very aware that you're basically a bag of seawater as all the squishy bits inside you compete to be closest to the seatback. The first couple of times you do it, you get tunnel vision. I drive a lot of fast cars, and the Turbo S required a quick recalibration.
Keep the pedal pinned and 100 mph comes up in just 6.8 seconds, or roughly when the average car is hitting 60 mph. Keep going and you're through the quarter-mile in just 10.9 seconds and doing 123.7 mph. When you lift at the end of the speed trap, you realize now might be a good time to try breathing again. The sueprcar, however, hasn't broken a sweat. As another media outlet has proven, Porsches are able to do this over and over again, with no ill effect. Braking is equally as impressive, hauling down from 60 mph in just 100 feet.
If the acceleration requires a recalibration, the figure-eight requires a new spirituality. The Turbo S is capable of pulling a 1.04 lateral g. Keep in mind, this is at a speed where the car isn't producing any downforce. In higher speed situations, the Turbo S will be even more capable. The figure-eight lap took just 23 seconds, flat. This is on a Pirelli P-Zero that, while good, isn't the stickiest tire Porsche offers as a factory fitment.
The Porsche 911 Turbo S has a lot going on while in the turns. There's torque-vectoring pushing power from side to side to get the car to point the nose in the direction you want to go. It's pushing power from front to back to change the balance of the car. The rear tires are steering, directed by an onboard computer. The suspension is changing damping rates and antiroll bar rates several times a second. For a true car nerd, it sometimes becomes difficult to ignore all these things and just enjoy the driving. If you are really trying and are somewhat sensitive to a vehicle's dynamics, you can feel this stuff happening. But, if you can just drive the 911 Turbo S and enjoy it, it delivers the classic Porsche experience.
I don't want to say it's easy to drive fast, because anything at this level is challenging. On top of that, driving a supercar capable of generating these forces requires a decent level of fitness. Sure, the power steering, supportive seats, and PDK transmission make life easier, but holding up your head, focusing on your line, and making decisions at faster rates than normal will work up a sweat. That's not to say that even a moderately skilled person can be amazingly fast at track days. It's just that driving it to its full potential is not so easy. So don't worry, those of you who work hard honing your driving craft—there will still be a noticeable difference with a skilled driver in a Turbo S.
Porsche estimates more than half of Turbo buyers will opt for the S, and why wouldn't they? If you are buying the Turbo, you want the ultimate in performance. I've already mentioned the value proposition. But the best part is you can add all this performance with no downside to driveability. Stopping a foot short of the finish line would be ridiculous. Get the Porsche 911 Turbo S, you won't regret it.