A fascinating thing about the Porsche Turbo is how the majority of other drivers on the road view it so mundanely. Yeah, there is a small group of people that see the car at a traffic signal and nod their respect. But by and large, most people glance over, think to themselves “Porsh”—if anything at all—and go right back to daydreaming about what they’ll scarf down for dinner that night.
Meanwhile, sitting right at arm’s length is one of the most potent road cars the world has ever known. Packing a 500 horsepower 3.8-liter twin turbo flat six making 480 ft-lbs of torque in its tail, the performance capability of the Porsche Turbo is fully the equivalent of anything the more flamboyant Ferraris or Lamborghinis can muster. Weighing just over 3,500 pounds, the fastest accelerating all-wheel drive Porsche in history—and one of the most highly ranked in that regard among cars in general—the 911 Turbo boasts a 3.2 second 0-60 time and a 194 mph top.
Taking advantage of the launch control system Porsche’s engineers so thoughtfully built into the pressurized 911 is laughably easy. With your left foot on the brake and right foot flooring the throttle, the engine revs to 5000 rpm and holds until you release the brake. The Turbo’s four wheels then scrabble for a moment, seeking grip. When they bite, the diminutive coupe blasts forward like a jet fighter on full afterburner. The seven-speed dual clutch transmission bangs off shifts in less than .5 of a second, with absolutely no interruption of forward motion. Accelerating relentlessly, the Porsche just keeps going faster and faster and faster as long as there is road in front of it. But rather than feeling cumulative, the way the car gathers speed feels more like by leaps and bounds.
When it comes to cornering, the Turbo dives right in, flattens the apex and catapults toward the next corner. Its cornering attitude is amazingly neutral for a car whose engine literally hangs out behind its rear wheels. In fact, you’re hard pressed to tell where the engine is in the car unless you severely overcook it. If you do, the rear end comes out gently. When you’re pointed where you want to go next, simply dial in a bit of opposite lock and the car rockets forward again on its new trajectory.
Because it’s all-wheel drive, the Turbo’s steering feel isn’t as lively as, say, the 911 GT3’s. However it is still highly communicative. You always know what the front wheels are doing and where they’re pointed. The brakes are so easily modulated the pedal responds like a dial. Gradually feed in the desired amount of retardation, the system responds with exact precision. The transmission is so always in the right gear you’re faster leaving it in its automatic mode than you’d ever be shifting it yourself. Punch the sport button, throttle response is even sharper (!) and the transmission holds itself in gears longer. Go for the sport plus button, the car goes into full race mode and winds the engine all the way to redline—screaming its lungs out—as you shred from corner to corner. The sound is so intoxicating you’ll find your heart racing faster than the engine. And the engine is good for 7000 rpm.
As terrific as all of that is, sitting behind the wheel, the accommodations are more luxurious grand tourer than raw sports car. Leather everywhere, the Turbo’s interior is straight luxe. The seats are supremely comfortable, the instrumentation is legendary in its legibility and all contemporary comfort and conveniences are in full effect. Ingress and egress are so easy; it makes the car feel almost ordinary. The seating position and steering wheel adjust, so finding the right position is child’s play. The Porsche 911 Turbo is a car that appeals to your sensibilities just as much as it does your senses.
And this is why the folks at the light don’t get all excited at the sight. So accessible has Porsche has made the 911, people don’t really consider it exotic. While they know its fast and they know it isn’t cheap, they see 911s everyday. The Porsche car has become part of the landscape.
Porsche 911 Turbo coupe pricing starts at $132,800, the Cabrio starts at $143,800.