2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S First Review
True perfection might be an illusion but man…you can get pretty close. For proof consider the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S. The KBB editorial team recently experienced Porsche’s flagship 911 and emerged utterly entranced. Standing atop the 911 lineup, a “basic” 540 horsepower 911 Turbo costs a cool $162,850, including destination charges, while a 580 horsepower 911 Turbo S, like our test car, commands an even cooler $191,750. Want to make your Turbo Coupe a Cabriolet? Then tack on another $12,000 or so. For that kind of money you better get a truly transcendent driving experience. Funny thing, that’s exactly what the Turbo S delivers.
If the fates ever grant you command of a 911 Turbo please do the following: rotate the mode selector to Sport Plus, hold the brake pedal with your left foot, mash the throttle fully, then release the brake. What comes next is a mélange of laughter, induction noise, neck strain, and existential bliss. The unrelenting yet effortless nature of this launch control party trick simply never gets old. Fun fact: Porsche puts no restrictions on how often you can use the Turbo’s launch control feature. And for that we’re grateful.
Abundant power, seamless shifts
To be clear, maximum joy in any Porsche comes when negotiating curves but first a few more words about power. The 3.8-liter horizontally-opposed and obviously turbocharged 6-cylinder delivers power with sophistication and abundance. Ease into the throttle near engine idle and you might notice a touch of turbo lag but in our experience it didn’t negatively affect drivability. In fact, drivability emerged as a core Turbo strength, with major credit owed to the PDK dual-clutch transmission. Delivering impossibly-quick, seamless shifts it’s hard to imagine a more effective way to usher the engine’s robust output to the traction-maximizing all-wheel drive system.
Where cornering abilities are concerned Porsche’s engineers have achieved a minor miracle. The 911 Turbo is obscenely quick and unexpectedly forgiving while remaining deeply rewarding to drive. As technology has advanced some high-performance cars have sacrificed feel and emotion in the name of speed. The Porsche 911 Turbo has not. Yes, adaptive dampers, rear-wheel steering, and the aforementioned all-wheel drive system do facilitate supercar-grade handling abilities but none of that speed-enhancing tech has compromised the Turbo’s soul. Against the odds our 911 Turbo S proved unexpectedly delightful during normal driving as well due to a surprisingly compliant suspension, reasonably quiet cabin, and a long wheelbase that helped quash the porpoising effect often experienced when low/stiff cars traverse freeway expansion joints. We might need to upgrade that miracle from minor to major.
As alluded up front though, the 911 Turbo is not perfect. Despite a nearly $200k asking price our test car did not include power seats, passive vehicle entry with pushbutton start, or many other things we take for granted in much less expensive cars. And while we wouldn’t call it a flaw the PDK transmission’s "sail" mode might feel strange to unfamiliar drivers. Basically, when you lift off throttle at highway speeds the transmission will occasionally select neutral and coast with the engine idling. It’s a neat fuel-saving trick made possible by a modern dual-clutch transmission but it does take some getting used to.
Seats built for the long haul
Depending on how familiar you are with Porsches the 911 Turbo’s ergonomics might also take some getting used to. One member of our editorial staff noted that the front seats felt stiff and uninviting…but only for the first 20 minutes of driving. After that they felt excellent. What changed in that 20 minute span? Who knows but we suspect Porsche has smartly scrutinized the long-haul comfort of their seats. Surrounding those seats is a beautifully-styled and well-adorned cabin that nicely complements the shapely exterior. Oh, the exterior. Between its timeless muscularity and brilliant Miami Blue paint our 911 Turbo S coupe drew an endless parade of admiring glances.
If those admirers were also keen-eyed Porschephiles they may have noticed a range of exterior updates made to the 911 Turbo lineup for 2017 including fresh front and rear fascias, new headlights, and a revised decklid grille incorporating attractive longitudinal vanes. Inside 2017 brought with it a new GT sport steering wheel and an updated 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system boasting multi-touch gesture control and standard Apple CarPlay integration. During our test the infotainment system delivered snappy responses and intuitive control. To be honest, last year’s 911 Turbo was not lacking for power or performance. Nonetheless, for 2017 the Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S each offer an additional 20 horsepower, higher top speeds, quicker 0-60 mph sprints and, bizarrely, improved fuel economy. Who says you can’t have it all?
When considering a car like the Porsche 911 Turbo S it’s easy to be distracted by numbers. To be fair 580 horsepower, a scorching 2.8 second zero to 60 mph figure, and a 205 mph top speed are awfully distracting, but none of those numbers properly convey the supremely satisfying feel one enjoys piloting a Porsche 911 Turbo S. Every component–steering, suspension, transmission, engine, brakes–tickled our automotive pleasure centers. With an Avatar-esque connection between car and driver, just cruising around town felt intensely satisfying. Adding speed simply multiplied that satisfaction. We try not to gush when reviewing cars but sometimes gushing is justified. If one day you find yourself piloting a Miami Blue 911 Turbo S, we’re sure you’ll gush too. Don’t forget to try the launch control.