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2014 Porsche 911 Turbo & Turbo S: First Drive

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Evil. Fantastic. Both.

That doesn't describe the 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S, but the members-only track at Bilster Berg Drive Resort near Bad Driburg, Germany. It's the most fun we've found in a closed circuit this year. And the 911 Turbo and Turbo S make it look easy.

Well, not quite easy, as every yump, twist, drop, and crown of the Bilster Berg circuit is seemingly designed to unsettle the cars that drive it, without so much as a second's respite, even on the "straights," which look a lot like the turns at other tracks.

Perhaps that's because rally legend and Porsche aficionado Walter Röhrl had a hand in bringing the Hermann Tilke-designed course into reality. Fortunately, Röhrl also had a hand in the 911 Turbo's development.

The combination of the two is intoxicating.

ALSO SEE: Bilster Berg Circuit Opening In Germany As Nürburgring Struggles

To Turbo or to Turbo S? That is only part of the question.

Both the 520-horsepower 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo and its 560-horsepower 911 Turbo S variant are truly impressive machines, both on-track and off. But which should you choose?

Ultimately, the answer comes down to your desire to spend money, as both are brilliant--the Turbo S is just a bit more so. The extra power and more liberal dose of equipment and features makes the Turbo S the preferential pick for those of unlimited means, naturally, but the Turbo gives up very little even when the clock is running.

Zero to 60 mph, the Turbo rips off the dash in just 3.2 seconds; the Turbo S does the deed in 2.9. Either model gets the benefit of dead-simple launch control: put the car in Sport Plus mode with the console-mounted button, pin the brake and the gas, and the tach rises to a launch limiter, popping and growling as it waits for your command. Side-step the brake and it slingshots away with only the drama of a rapidly approaching horizon--wheelspin is minimal, especially once the tires are hot, and there's no side-stepping whatsoever thanks to the standard all-wheel-drive system.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S first drive, Bilster-Berg, August 2013

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S first drive, Bilster-Berg, August 2013

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Top speed arrives at 196 mph for the Turbo, and 198 mph for the Turbo S--a factoid few will ever directly experience, even on track. Both are within 25 pounds of each other, with the 911 Turbo weighing it at a minimum of 3,516 pounds, and the Turbo S tipping the scales at 3,538 pounds. Both cars even get the same size tires (245/35 front, 305/30 rear, on 20-inch wheels), though the Turbo S adds 0.5 inches of wheel width at both ends.

A seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission is also standard--as with the GT3, there's no manual transmission offered. We're fine with that. After all, if you want to buy a 911 Turbo with a three-pedal setup, Porsche built it from the 930 through the 997. They're all over the used market.

LEARN MORE: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo Revealed: Video And Full Specs

For those willing to truly push themselves and their car, the Turbo S does have one standout advantage: standard carbon ceramic brakes. While the steel brakes, standard on the Turbo, have somewhat better feel and modulation, the ceramics are brutally efficient and fade-free, even after dozens of laps in just a few short hours. To be fair, we didn't notice any fade in the steel brakes, but the Bilster Berg layout doesn't require multiple 10-pedal stops from 160-plus-mph, either. The ceramics, though difficult to modulate before engaging full ABS action, provide insurance for higher-speed venues. Fortunately, you can upgrade the Turbo to include the ceramic brakes if you like.

The bottom line: even on track, the difference between the Turbo and Turbo S is a (noticeable) hair's-width, and both are just flat-out fun to drive hard.



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