First Drive: 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

That problem has now been completely solved, as Porsche has adapted its 7-speed twin-clutch PDK for use with the Turbo. It has some upgraded hardware and slightly longer third through sixth-gear ratios than in the normally aspirated Carrera models, but in function, it's identical. PDK (short for Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, which is short for 'Porsche double clutch transmission' and is pronounced Poor-sha duh-pull-coop-loongs-guh-treeb-uh), has six closely spaced gear ratios for fantastic acceleration, and then a long seventh gear for quiet, relaxed, and fuel-efficient high-speed cruising. Porsche is, to date, the only company with this gearing strategy, and they get mad props for it.

It's only a personal preference, but I like the extra involvement you get with a 911 - even the turbocharged ones - with the standard six-speed manual. And I like that the Turbo exhibits no lag after a full-throttle shift. Short of having a physical handicap, I couldn't excuse anyone's purchase of a Tiptronic 911, but those days are over. You can't fault someone for choosing a PDK for three reasons: one, it works really, really well as both an automatic and an automated manual. Two, the ultralong seventh gear is fabulous on the highway. And three, Launch Control. Read on.

Launching a 911 is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can ever have in an automobile. It's a violent affair, unfortunately, so much so that if you have any degree of mechanical sympathy, you'll never do it. (And by launching, I mean loads of engine revs and a clutch dump into first gear with the gas pedal on the floor. And lots of wincing.)

If you specify the Sport Chrono package, PDK will do it for you - guilt free. There's apparently no risk of voiding the warranty or grenading the transmission like in a Nissan GT-R; Porsche engineers told me they got bored trying to blow it up after some ridiculous number of consecutive launches, and just gave up.

So without a shred of guilt, you engage Sport Plus mode, turn off PSM, and floor the accelerator pedal while holding the brake. A light in the 3:00-position steering wheel spoke comes on that says "LAUNCH CONTROL," and the magnetorheological engine mounts stiffen in anticipation of a big event. The engine surges to 5000 rpm; it's not a smooth, steady elevated idle, though - the engine computers are obviously playing some tricks to try to generate boost in advance. The turbos whistle, pop, and chatter a little. And when you let your foot off the brake, so does your stomach. You feel like you got punched in the torso as the computer dumps the clutch and the Turbo catapults forward.

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The Porsche 911 Turbo is perfection.posted 11.19.05 - "Karleton Helfer is self motivated, goal driven and consistently recognized for exceeding objectives."

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