The 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S is the most powerful and most expensive version of the company's legendary sports car. It features standard all-wheel drive, a new rear-wheel steering system and a well-appointed cabin that makes it as comfortable as it is fast. As supercars go, the 911 Turbo S delivers the most compelling combination of speed and everyday drivability on the road today.
What Is It?
If you've ever needed your face peeled back from your skull, cheeks first, you're in luck. The 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S has arrived, the latest in a line of mega-performance GT cars from the German automaker.
Early 911 Turbos from the '70s and early '80s had a fearsome reputation rooted in their all-or-nothing power delivery and for handling characteristics that had no time for neophyte drivers. Do the wrong thing at the wrong time, legend had it, and early Turbos would waste no time in punting you off the tarmac with the taillights leading the way.
Modern 911 Turbos have since matured into one of the most accomplished cars you can buy, and the new Turbo S raises this characterization to new heights. Based on the all-new 991 platform introduced in 2013, the Turbo S offers more performance, accessibility and out-and-out prowess than its forebears, and that's no mean feat.
What's With the "S"?
"S" is for Sport, and it brings to 16 the total number of 911 variants available today. Versions of the Turbo wearing the "S" badge click the performance up a notch, while retaining the luxury equipment and all-wheel-drive hardware that its harder-core GT2-badged stablemates eschew.
The direct-injected 3.8-liter flat-6 is equipped with two variable-nozzle turbochargers and a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. No manual gearbox is offered. The S designation turns the boost up by 2.9 psi, adding 40 horsepower and 29 pound-feet of torque over the base Turbo and bringing the total to 560 hp and 516 lb-ft. It also brings the redline up by 200 rpm to 7,200 rpm.
S models also bring half-inch-wider center-lock wheels, LED headlights, a standard Sport Chrono package (active stabilizer bars, carbon-ceramic brakes and active engine mounts) and a few other trinkets to the Turbo party.
Is It Fast?
Is water wet? The Porsche 911 Turbo S is hilariously fast.
Pressing the Sport Plus button (because one Sport button in the Sport version of one of the sportiest cars extant is, apparently, not enough) enables a temporary overboost function that raises boost pressure to about 20 psi, liberating yet more thrust. Midrange torque swells to 553 lb-ft. Launch control is enabled, too.
Now, many cars have launch control, but few automakers make this function as easy to access as Porsche. Simply hold the brake down with your left foot and mat the gas with your right. Revs climb, boost builds and when you release the brake your internal organs compress and the air is briefly squeezed from your lungs.
In our quarter-mile acceleration testing, we found that the 911 Turbo S is technically a 10-second car. It ran the quarter in 10.97 seconds. However, per our official quarter-mile rubric, this result is rounded up to the nearest tenth to 11.0 seconds at 124.4 mph. The blitz to 60 mph falls in a scant 3.0 seconds. There's not much out there that can hang with this kind of thrust.
How Extreme Are Its Handling Capabilities?
The 911 Turbo S demonstrates eye-opening agility that is at odds with its portly 3,619-pound as-tested curb weight. It orbited our skid pad at 1.05g and wound through the slalom cones at 74.4 mph, feats that put exclamation points on this chassis' ability to wrest every scintilla of grip from its tires' contact patches at all times.
Putting aside the hair-splitting of numbers, the true achievement of this new platform is the way the Turbo S's vast performance is so accessible. On the road, the car's long list of technologies — rear-wheel steering, torque-vectoring rear axle, active stabilizer bars, variable ratio steering, active all-wheel drive — work nearly invisibly. You turn into a corner at speed and the Turbo S's nose just digs in, bites down and yanks the nose toward the apex, and then hurls you out the other side with freakish efficiency. The electric-assist power steering transmits at least some of the road's texture, and is well-weighted and terrifically precise.
Despite all the whiz-bang hardware at play, the Turbo is not anodyne or video game-like, where the driver is just along for the ride. It works better the harder you drive it, right up to when you start overcooking corner entry, at which point you can feel the car attempting to maintain your desired path by shuffling torque and braking wheels.
Yet this car still requires respect. As much as the car is with you on a hard charge, in the back of your mind you're aware of the fundamental physics at play; that the powertrain's mass hanging aft of the rear axle is ever poised to pendulum around. It's just that its demand for respect is now a whisper and a nod rather than the bellow of years past. Fool-resistant, not foolproof.
What About the Brakes?
Carbon-ceramic brakes often feel wooden when cold and are more difficult to modulate than conventional iron brakes. Not so with the Turbo S's 16-inch, six-piston front and 15.4-inch, four-piston rear whoppers. These are the most progressive carbon ceramics we've encountered, with uncharacteristically linear release characteristics and only the occasional squeal.
As for heat capacity, they do that trick, too. Repeated stops failed to induce any fade, all the while delivering stopping performance that ranks among the best we've tested. Its shortest stop from 60 mph consumed just 98 feet.
How Much Does It Cost?
Base price of the Turbo S is $182,050.
Our test car had a few options added on like a $3,500 Burmester premium audio system (pretty nice), $2,490 adaptive cruise (skip it), a $1,990 glass sunroof (definitely skip it), a $1,710 leather-trimmed dashboard (unnecessary but nice; we're conflicted) plus other bits that brought its total to — and you might want to sit down for this — $199,065.
And our tester was equipped with just a small fraction of the available options, not to mention the customization program Porsche offers. So the better question to ask is: How much do you have?
How Wretched Is Its Fuel Economy?
Surprisingly, not as bad as you might think. The EPA pegs the Turbo S at 20 combined mpg (17 city/24 highway). We netted 15.7 mpg in a mix of conditions that admittedly included an awful lot of wide-open throttle.
Which Areas Need Work?
The Turbo S's savage performance asks little sacrifice of its driver.
Road noise is a constant companion, no surprise given the ultra-short, stiff sidewalls of its 20-inch Pirelli P Zero summer tires that measure 245/35 in front and 305/30 out back. The engine note is entirely unimpressive at idle and at small throttle openings, sounding gruff and anonymous and clearing its throat only when the right pedal is used in anger.
Around town the ride quality has a firm compliance that breathes well over bumps, and its PDK gearbox is quiet, smooth, smart and rapid. It remains the best dual-clutch unit in the biz. Plus, its interior is finely trimmed and equipped, logically laid out and frankly difficult to fault. In these respects there are few cars out there that offer the Turbo S's blend of performance, capability and everyday civility.
But someone paying nearly $200,000 might be dismayed that the same basic cabin is found in a Boxster at roughly a quarter the price. Same goes, too, for the sheet metal. In creating the Turbo S Porsche has swollen the 911's fenders, perforated its fascias and added swank and swagger at every turn. The end result is striking from certain angles, not beautiful, and it isn't differentiated enough from the base 911. Then again, if you're into flying under the radar...
What's the Verdict?
The new Turbo S is more engaging than the outgoing car, its chassis pointier and more alert than any Turbo to come before it, driving as though the Stuttgart wizards squeezed in a few drops of the GT3's special sauce during the car's development.
Yes, the Turbo S is a complex, substantial car that's a long way on from the lean, lithe and elemental 911s of years past. It's all the more impressive, then, that all the elements of the Turbo S's driving experience meld so cohesively.
The 911 Turbo S is really that good, and puts a convincing kink in the Turbo's otherwise robust trajectory in the direction of a leaden GT car.
What Are Its Closest Competitors? 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage: This is the most powerful version of Aston Martin's most dynamic sports car. Its 556-hp V12 matches up favorably with the Porsche's turbocharged flat-6, and the Aston also uses a seven-speed automated manual transmission.
2014 Audi R8 V10: Although the R8 is getting old, it still delivers incredible performance that is easily accessible. Couple that with a unique design and everyday drivability and the R8 is still a formidable foe.
2014 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe: If you're looking for knockout performance with a slightly more palatable price tag, this 550-hp coupe will do the job. It looks stunning on the road, makes all the right sounds and is comfortable, too. Makes a good argument for spending half as much.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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