It is the dead of winter and slush-dripping hunks of motorized metal litter the landscape, losing the battle against oxidization. All of the high priced temperamental machinery has long been put away, cowering from this harsh environment. But one unsuspecting salt encrusted silver coupe sits in the corner lot of a grocery store. Soft top stained with washer fluid and road brine, it is easy to overlook this car at first glance.
|Engine: A 3.8-liter turbocharged flat-six that makes 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.
Transmission: Only available with a seven-speed PDK dual clutch transmission.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. We achieved an average of 17.4 mpg.
Price: Starts at $194,895 with our as-tested pricing bumping up to $199,485.
It isn’t an outrageous design with creases, vents and wings slathered on every available surface. But look a little closer and the shape is instantly recognizable. “Hey, is that a 911 out in this mess?” It sure is and not just any 911 either, this is the top-dog 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. Costing a hefty $199,485 as tested after destination charges, it may seem a bit nutty that we are in a supercar at this time of year, but that is exactly the point.
All Year Capabilities
Porsche wants to prove the 911 Turbo S is an all-year around supercar without compromises. With temperatures firmly stuck below the freezing mark and snow falling every other day, we got to test that claim to full effect. The end result was absolutely zero faults. We had no trouble with cold morning starts. There was never a hesitation, warning light or gearbox issue during our ten days with the car. For most cars this is expected, but remember, we are talking about a $200,000 supercar here. I’d like to see other high priced exotics behave this well in those conditions.
The 911 Turbo may not be flashy and attention getting like a Ferrari 458 Italia or Audi R8, but that just makes it easier to blend into traffic and avoid the attention of law enforcement. That said, Porsche fans instantly recognized the 911 Turbo and more than once I was asked questions about it while stopped at the gas station.
Turbo Six Monster
Built on the Porsche’s 991 platform architecture, the Turbo and Turbo S join the 911 for 2014 and are based on the wide-body Carrera. At the heart of the Turbo is a 3.8 liter turbocharged flat-six making 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque in Turbo S form. To further enhance bragging rights, the S also features an over-boost feature that pushes torque up to 553 lb-ft. The 911 Turbo S is differentiated from regular Turbo models by the inclusion of standard active roll compensation (PDCC), ceramic brakes (PCCB), unique 20-inch wheels with center-lock hubs and LED headlights.
Saddening purists everywhere, but delighting race car drivers, the 911 Turbo is only available with Porsche’s seven-speed dual clutch PDK semi-automatic transmission. We get the outrage over the demise of a manual option in this car, but it is a sign of the times and in the quest for ultimate speed, nothing beats a dual-clutch transmission (DCT). And, if we are all going to be forced to change gears via a set of paddles, at least it is through arguably the best damn DCT on the market today.
Face Melting Acceleration
Put the car in Sport Plus mode, hammer the accelerator and the Turbo S will rocket from a standstill to 60 mph in a hair over three seconds. And this isn’t just paper-race bragging either. I have never experienced a car that can accelerate this fast, repeatedly and in virtually any road conditions. The latter is achieved thanks to Porsche tweaking the all-wheel drive (AWD) system to allow more power to be sent to the front wheels via a transfer case with a new water cooling system.
Half the fun of these ridiculous acceleration runs is the sound. Aside from Porsche’s trademark horizontally opposed six-cylinder growl, the sound the turbocharger makes when spooling up is down-right intoxicating. With 560 hp coming from only 3.8 liters, there is noticeable turbo-lag. But it’s hard to care with the whooshing soundtrack coming from the engine compartment. Besides, the lag is minimal for such a beastly machine and it allows the driver time to prepare for the onslaught of all four wheels fighting for traction once the boost does peak.
Speaking of grip, even with a set of winter tires installed at all four corners, lateral grip is fantastic. Measuring 245/35R20 up front and 305/30R20 in the rear, having sloppy, slippery conditions during our test week was actually kind of nice as it enabled us to get closer to the Turbo S’ limits at much saner and safer speeds. Helping the 3,500 lbs.+ Turbo S Cabriolet negotiate corners is Torque Vectoring Plus that brakes the inside rear wheel to force more power to the outside wheels.
Rear Wheel Steering Now Included
But the real trick technology on the new 911 Turbo is the active rear-axle steering. Each rear wheel is capable of turning up to 2.8 degrees opposite that of the front wheels or up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction depending on the circumstances. How the system works, is at speeds up to 31 mph the rear wheels will turn opposite the fronts. Between 31 mph and 49.7 mph the rear wheels remain stationary and then turn the same direction as the front wheels at speeds of 49.8 mph and higher.
Both systems are seamless in operation and combine to make the Turbo S highly controllable and predictable when taking a turn with aggression. The laws of physics remain despite all of the electronic aids and lifting off the throttle mid-corner will still make the rear end rotate. But even this is controllable as the new Turbo does not exhibit any of the sudden snap oversteer that old 911s are known for.
With each new Turbo model, things become more livable inside. The 2014 Turbo S cabriolet has a lot of room and comfort for two people. Its back seat is still useless for anyone other than a toddler, but it serves as useful extra storage space to supplement the under-hood luggage compartment. My wife and I were able to load up all of our things for a weekend-long family gathering including gifts.
The final party trick of the 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S is efficiency. Although 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway may not seem impressive on paper, this is still an all-wheel drive 560-hp supercar. We averaged 17.4 mpg during a week of winter testing and continue to be impressed by Porsche’s ability to combine crazy performance relative fuel efficiency.
Safe, practical, relatively efficient and all-weather capable, the Porsche 911 Turbo has become much more civilized through its lifetime. Some would also say softer and they have a point. It lacks some of the rawness found in models of old and doesn’t connect the driver to the road the way, say, a 964 911 Turbo did. But, the new Turbo S would also embarrass past 911 Turbos around a racetrack. And that is what the 911 Turbo has become; a stupid-fast every day car for drivers who want more than a regular GT coupe.