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The Greatest All-Around Sports Car On The Planet.

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On: Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 10:09AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Greatest All-Around Sports Car On The Planet.

Let’s be clear about something:  I don’t want to like the new Porsche 911 Turbo S. Sure it’s the first “S” model we’ve seen in five years, and on some level, as a car enthusiast, I should be happy about that. But the truth is, down deep, I’m not. See, I’m just not a Porsche guy at all. Growing up, I’ve always had a deep-seated love for Italian sports cars. To me, they were the always the most visceral, they were (and are) the embodiment of passion and extroverted dramatic flair. I always loved to watch even people who I knew for a fact had almost zero interest in automobiles as anything more than people-movers suddenly explode with excitement when a screaming yellow Lamborghini or blood red Ferrari would roll up next to them at a traffic light, or passed their field of view in a parking lot. Even they realized that those Italian masterpieces were something special. And just as I saw those stunning Ferraris and Lamborghinis as the heroes, I couldn’t help but paint their challengers, like Porsche, as the villains always trying to dethrone the mighty Italians and claim the crown as king of all supercars. If that happened, somehow I thought the world would be plunged into the lifeless, emotionless, gunmetal grey I always seemed to see Porsches depicted in. 

But as I grew up, slowly my somewhat unfounded biases and characterizations towards the upper echelon of high performance automobiles began to erode, and a new found respect emerged for the sheer skill and genius I realized it took to create a piece of metal, add a few hundred horsepower, four wheels, make it look great, and rocket to 60 mph in only a few seconds. Much like sports analysts will tell you; once they become professionals, they begin rooting less for teams and more for a good game or a good story they can analyze more easily. I found myself slowly becoming less interested in rooting for sheer dominance of any one car, even my beloved Prancing Horse or Raging Bull, and more for a good match-up in a comparison test.  It has since become much easier to spot and asses a quality car, even if it is made by my childhood arch rival.  

Objectively speaking, I do not think the new Porsche 911 Turbo S has gotten the credit it deserves. Fair is fair, and from an impartial standpoint, if I had money to buy one car that would my only car everyday, all year, and it just had to be a performance car, there is no better car than the Turbo S. Don’t believe me? Well, on some level I’m not crazy about it either. But the tough part about the truth is that you can’t argue it forever. But just for kicks, let’s put my theory to the test. For starters, the Turbo S comes with standard all-wheel drive, which for anyone living outside of San Diego already puts this car on the short list of viable year-round daily drivers. Anyone that has ever played Grand Turismo can tell you that if you slap the right set of tires on an AWD car, there’s almost no terrain that can stop you. So that means the Viper, Corvette, LFA, and even my beloved Ferraris are out of the mix as soon as the weather dips below perfect. So, that leaves us with a Lamborghini or two, the big bad Bugatti Veyron, and the Nissan GTR.

So, now that we’ve narrowed the field, let’s talk big-boy racer talk for a moment, because this is where things get fun. Thanks to the twin-turbo 3.8 liter flat-6 engine that now uses direct-injection, and gets a boost in boost to 14.5 psi (versus 11.6 for the standard turbo) the Turbo S pumps out a Schwarzeneggerian 530 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. All of that power funneled through all four aforementioned wheels gets this Porsche moving out with superhero speed that would probably embarrass 95% of the tricked-out, hot-rodded, race ready small blocks, big blocks, and tuner turbo cars at your local track’s next street night. Read this next sentence carefully: In terms of 0-60 mph, there is not a faster mass-produced car on the planet. Read that again. Now granted, that depending on whose numbers you are looking at the Bugatti may tie the Turbo S to 60 mph, but the Veyron is by no means a mass-produced automobile, nor is its 16.4 Supersport sibling. But with a 0-60 time of 2.6 too-fast-to-be-legal seconds, the Turbo S should come with a cape and an alter-ego for its owners.

But okay, 0-60 is only one measure of speed, so how about 0-100 mph? We can take away some of the Porsche’s hole-shot AWD advantage and see where it stacks up to the big boys when it comes to triple digits. Here is where the double horsepower for nine times the money Bugatti earns its keep. It does walk away from the Turbo S to 100, but beyond Bugatti’s million-dollar baby, there is no car in regular production that comes close to the Porsche’s 0-100 in 6.3 seconds. None. ZR1? 7.3 seconds. LFA? 7.8 seconds. Maybe the GTR? 8.0 seconds. How about Porsche’s own 605 hp V-10 Carrera GT of a few years back? Nope, 7.0 seconds. Even the Herculean $650,000 Ferrari Enzo couldn't manage the century mark in less than 6.6 seconds. The Turbo S is nothing short of frighteningly fast. And thanks to Porsche’s PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual with launch control, these numbers are not just for do-or-die test drivers. Everyday owners could be putting up very similar numbers getting onto any old average on-ramp or traffic light. Oh, and by the way, it can do 195 mph on the top end. As far as handling, with the help of Porsche’s brake-based torque vectoring system, the Turbo S posts 1.02g on the skidpad, which is not as dominating, but still in the top one percent of all production cars. Thanks to 15.0 inch front and 13.8 inch rear cross-drilled and vented ceramic disc brakes, the Turbo S hauls down from mind-numbing rush to 60 mph in just 107 feet, which is a number bested by a single foot by only the Ferrari California and the Turbo’s sibling, the GT3.

Now for finalizing this ‘race’ of sorts: As I mentioned earlier, having one car and only one car as my daily driver for four-seasons of fun leaves us with the issue of practicality. Obviously AWD is a huge plus, but let’s look a little beyond just wheels. Odds are, over the course of the year I would have one, two, maybe even three people to move at any given time, or at least have a person plus luggage if I wanted to take my pride and joy out for a ride in the country for a long weekend. In that case, four seats are better than two, and interior cargo space is paramount. The Porsche has a total of 64 cubic feet of interior volume (48 cu ft front and 16 cu ft rear), as well as 10 cubic of cargo space, which is not much compared to your average Honda Odyssey, but then again the goal here is practical performance and last I checked, not too many minivans are running the quarter mile in the 10s. So how does the space of the Turbo S compare? Well, the mighty Ferrari 458 Italia has exactly 8 cubic feet for cargo and 52 feet of interior space. The Lamborghini-infused Audi R8 5.2 FSI has 7 cubic feet for cargo and 49 cubic feet of interior volume. The ZR1 does impress in this category with 52 cubic feet of interior volume, but a cavernous 22 cubic feet of cargo. But with only two seats and rear-wheel drive, the mighty Vette has been eliminated for some time.

Finally let’s look at the last of the practical issues for having one car all year: Gas mileage. This is a big contributor to the investment of any car that is bought to endure daily use. Simply put, the fact that the Porsche Turbo S is in the 500/500 club and gets 17 mpg city and an amazing 25 highway is, in a way, its most impressive superpower. Nothing in its power range comes closer than four or five mpg away on the highway, which can add up pretty quickly with any sort of daily commute. Not to mention the fact that because the Turbo S has such Clark Kent looks among supercars these days, thanks to Porsche keeping it relatively unchanged for nearly half a century, it can blend into everyday traffic posing as a mild mannered sports car much more easily than my much-loved, low-slung, screaming-for-attention Lamborghini could.

So there you have it. The 2011 Porsche Turbo S is simply the best all around performance car you can buy … At least in one writer’s opinion. For an as-tested price of $162,460 you can get yourself a car that can nearly fly faster than a speeding Ferrari, is more powerful than some early locomotives, and leap passed the baddest Corvette on the market. Now the closest competitor in this decathlon has been the Nissan GTR. It stays neck and neck with the Turbo S on almost every category. The Bugatti hung in for a few rounds, but there is simply no way anyone is going to drive a car that has the cost equivalent of a small apartment building through everyday traffic. And as much as it pains me, even my favorite Lamborghinis and Ferraris simply are just too impractical to drive everyday. But the GTR, on the other hand, has a bit less power, a bit less room, gets a bit worse MPG, and is quite a bit less fast. But it does have AWD, four seats, 8.8 cubic feet of cargo space, and moves with enough power to turn some heads all for a relatively economical $85,000 which is nearly half the cost of the Turbo S. So I suppose the question is: Is it worth the extra 80 grand to be able to smoke all but one production car on the planet while getting the very best fuel mileage of any 500 horsepower car in creation, and being able to take a few witnesses along for the ride? Yes. Yes, it is. Whether you classify the 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S as a supercar or super villain, you can’t deny its ability to blend everything you could ever want into a single nearly perfect package. Welcome to the dark side my Lamborghini and Ferrari-loving friends; maybe it’s not so bad here after all.

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AK91 | 8:47PM (Sun, Jun 23, 2013)

I totally agree with you on this, and this is actually my dream car. Living in Canada, if there was only 1 car I could keep in my garage, this would be it. It really is a perfect all-rounder, with world class performance, luxury, practical, year round usability. I'd even be content with just the Turbo, which is basically the same thing, with a bit less performance, but more than enough to keep me smiling.

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