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2014 Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S First Review: User-friendly Brilliance

By Zach Vlasuk on September 11, 2013 1:29 PM
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"A supercar you can drive every day." It's a description applicable to more and more modern supercars, but the 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo delivers what is arguably the finest balance between paradigm-shifting performance and on-road civility. Why even mention daily driving manners in an article about a 500-plus horsepower Porsche? Because, let's face it: the vast majority of Porsche Turbos sold in America will never see the racetrack. And that's a shame, for the all-new 911 Turbo isn't just about stratospheric performance figures, it's also one of the most user-friendly performance cars ever produced. In other words, this truly is the one-size-fits-all supercar.

As such, the following bit of news is sure to rustle the feathers of stand-pat enthusiasts: A manual gearbox is no longer offered in the 911 Turbo. Like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and even Mercedes-Benz AMG, Porsche sets specific performance objectives for its products. In order to meet the stringent expectations of the sixth-generation 911 Turbo, Porsche's 7-speed PDK automatic proved to be the only transmission up to the task. Besides, in the rather exclusive world of dual-clutch manumatics, PDK is undoubtedly our favorite of the bunch for its refined nature in stop-and-go traffic, lightning-quick response times, and nearly telepathic gear selections. 

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Casual observers may find it difficult to distinguish the new 911 Turbo from its Carrera-badged counterparts, but the differences are actually quite dramatic. For starters, the 911 Turbo and higher-performing Turbo S variants are 0.6 inches longer and 1.1 inches wider than a Carrera 4S. Both models also feature distinctive four-point LED running lights (optional on the base Turbo) and more prominent air intakes ahead and aft of the rear wheels. 20-inch wheels are standard across the board, with center-locking hubs available as a no-cost option on the Turbo S. Our suggestion is to save yourself the headaches and stick to a traditional 5-lug wheel design, as center-locking hubs offer no real benefits to road-going sports cars. Save for leather-wrapped front seatbacks and an exclusive black/Carrera red color scheme (Turbo S only), the Turbo's interior looks and feels virtually identical to the rest of the 911 lineup.

The 911 Turbo's acclaimed all-wheel drive system can now transfer more power to the front axle than before, thanks to strengthened internals and improved water-cooling. The result is more grip in low-traction situations, particularly during aggressive launches.

Speaking of which, the 2014 911 Turbo and Turbo S can dash from 0-60 in 3.2 and 2.9 seconds, respectively. We carried out a handful of sprints to, let's say 60 mph, using the launch control feature. Although the Turbo's mainstream archrival, the Nissan GT-R, includes a launch control system and is equally quick on paper, acceleration from the 911 Turbo is comparatively drama-free. That's not to say the experience is underwhelming by any measure. The sensation can best be described as sophisticated savagery.

Additional standard equipment notwithstanding, the 2014 911 Turbo S commands a near-$33,000 price premium over the base Turbo. If straight line performance is the key deciding factor, it's worth noting that the real-world difference in acceleration between the 520-horsepower 911 Turbo and 560-horsepower Turbo S is minimal at best.

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But regardless of which model you choose, agility and cornering ability is beyond reproach. Every steering input produces an immediate response with very little commotion, providing drivers with just the right amount of feedback. From well-modulated brakes to the all-wheel drive system's heroic levels of grip, you feel a genuine sense of confidence from behind the wheel of a 911 Turbo.

Around town, the 911 Turbo is surprisingly compliant, with good outward visibility and a taut yet forgiving ride that's refined enough to iron out pothole-filled metro lanes. At speeds less than 75 mph, the pneumatically controlled three-stage spoiler beneath the front bumper stays retracted to help avoid scraping on steep ramps and driveways. In all, the 2014 911 Turbo offers 6.1 inches of ground clearance, the same as a Toyota Camry. Fuel efficiency for both the Turbo and Turbo S are up 15 percent compared to the outgoing 997-model generation, earning respectable EPA scores of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Pricing begins just shy of $150,000 for the 2014 911 Turbo and right around $182,000 for the top-of-the-line Turbo S. Porsche is currently taking orders for the both the Turbo and Turbo S, with first deliveries arriving towards the end of the year.

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