Like very few sports cars, the new 911 Turbo feels at home in all three quintessential speed zones. In the 0-to-60-mph range, spreading the propulsive effort across four wheels leaves ample grip for cornering. In the 60-to-125-mph bracket, the mighty boxer engine, the pragmatically spaced superquick gearbox, and the talented chassis fuse to form a winning team. Through the 125-to-194-mph high-speed zone, the light weight (3461 pounds on manual-transmission models, down 33 pounds), the lifesaving brakes (there's no need to upgrade from the standard cross-drilled and vented cast-iron rotors), and the riveting aerodynamics (serious downforce in the rear, modest lift in the front) effectively smooth out and control the flight path.
In older 911s, going flat out even on a straight was often a test of courage. In the 2010 Turbo, exploring the car's limits is a reassuringly fearless affair. Although the weight distribution has barely changed since Ferdinand Porsche invented the Volkswagen Beetle, evolutionary engineering and state-of-the-art electronics have since taken the sting out of exploring the Porsche 911 Turbo's true talents. A host of active aids control the torque split between the axles, aerodynamic balance, traction, turn-in, and deceleration, as well as pitch, yaw, and roll. But beware - those who switch off stability control should be prepared to cope with the dark sides of the Turbo, such as abrupt breakaway and lurid oversteer.
The Carrera is just fine for 911 aficionados on a budget. The GT3 is perfect for Sunday morning autobahn blasts and for sessions on the racetrack. The Cabriolet and the Targa are fashion-oriented variations of the same addictive theme. But within the 911 range, the new Turbo is without a doubt the best all-rounder, the best all-road driving tool, the best all-season sports car. In its latest 500-hp guise, it combines supercar guts with rental-car practicality, unites impeccable active safety with dual-clutch efficiency, matches the strongest brakes in the business with the best steering, boasts a made-to-last body and a chassis that has been designed to deliver.
Are there drawbacks? Well, it does drink when pushed, and it could benefit from more focused ergonomics. But when the red light inside your head turns green, this is still the car to beat on that familiar flat-out run from point A to point B. It also is one of the very few high-performance sports cars that feels equally at home on the 'Ring, through a snowstorm, down the autobahn, and in rush-hour traffic. Even though the Turbo is an anachronism as much as it is an icon, the top-of-the-range 911 is, in its latest form, once more a totally fascinating and truly charismatic driving machine.