2017 Porsche 911 Turbo first drive review Page 2

The 540 horsepower found in the Turbo would be more than enough in every situation, except one: following a Turbo S down the front straight at Thunderhill Raceway Park on a sunny Wednesday morning. The Turbo can find low lap times with the right exit speeds and smarter lines, but the Turbo S can squat and run with all thumbs behind the wheel. Going that fast shouldn't be this easy.

The speed is never comfortable, never boring. In the way that the 930 Turbo was savage, the 991.2 is equally disarming and wholly different. With tire pressures up after a few dozen laps at Thunderhill, the new 911 Turbo never stops moving around you. It's always exploring the limits of its driver—never the other way around. Drop the tire pressures back down into the 30s and its movements become a little more exaggerated.

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It amplifies when the car settles into a neutral stance, but doing so rolls up on the 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero's sidewalls from Turn 5 into 6 at Thunderhill in a way that demands an iron will—and an iron stomach. There's grip everywhere in the tires, I hear.

Sport Chrono comes standard in every Turbo and Turbo S this year, and with it is a steering-wheel-mounted drive selector that firms up the dampers, activates the commensurate aerodynamic settings, and sharpens throttle response. Flipping from Individual to Sport and Sport Plus won't require drivers to pull their eyes away from the quickly approaching horizon, a small click wheel at the bottom of the steering wheel is enough.

A push-to-pass button in the middle of the remote delivers 20 seconds of overboost, or just enough time to separate passengers from their lunches. (Sound familiar? It's borrowed from the 918 Spyder, and yet another reminder that the company is looking at that mid-engine warship for its future.)

None of the driving modes completely disable stability control, not that you'd want them to either. Porsche Stability Management can be toggled from normal, Sport, and off by a button near the gear selector, which should be immediately covered with electrical tape and be forgotten entirely. Yes, the 911 Turbo is scary without computers.

Inside the teardrop

It's more interesting to hear Porsche engineers talk about how the 911 Turbo is more tame than it ever has been.

Rear-wheel steering helps maneuver the 911 Turbo around a track and at low speeds, and can cut its turning circle by more than a foot under 30 mph by steering the rear wheels in the opposite direction. An optional front axle lift system raises the nose by 1.5 inches over tall speed bumps or finicky driveways. Blind spot monitors keep vigil at the rear, in the rare moments traffic sneaks up behind a 911 Turbo.

Yet, the 911 Turbo won't be confused for a grand touring car any time soon. The carbon-ceramic brakes, which are standard on the Turbo S and optional on the Turbo, need heat to quiet down. Cast iron on steel rotors on the Turbo do just fine—and actually provide a more natural pedal feel on the track, briefly—but the confidence of ceramic composite material is too tempting to ignore, even for $9,200 extra.

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