Well, it was everything I expected, and more. To me, the 911 Turbo is the ultimate Porsche. I appreciate the standard all-wheel drive, as opposed to the more "pure" rear-wheel-drive GT3 and GT2. This beast is wild enough for me, thank you very much. And I live in Michigan, which means the 911 Turbo could be a very livable daily driver for me, should an extra $150K fall into my lap.
I spent a lot of time in the Type 996 911 Turbo, which in its day (early 2000s) seemed to be everything someone could want in a Porsche, with its 414-hp, 413-lb-ft, 3.6-liter turbocharged boxer six. Oh, how quaint that all seems now. This 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo has a 500-hp, 480-lb-ft, 3.8-liter boxer six, and that gem of an engine is mated to, finally, a proper dual-clutch transmission. Porsche calls its new seven-speed dual-clutch the PDK, and it's pretty wonderful. The old five-speed Tiptronic becomes a distant memory.
At its core, this car is all about the acceleration, the sound of the turbo six, and the brakes -- oh, my, the brakes. I found myself rocketing along open stretches of two-lane, reaching 120 mph within seconds, coming to my senses, and nailing the brakes. HARD. I don't have any official measurements, but I got the sense that, if you were going 120 mph and needed to scrub off 50 mph right quick, you might actually manage to do it before the cop pointed his radar gun at you.
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking. After one brief evening driving this car, I was somewhat relieved that the Porsche people came and took it away, because I was afraid I might have an unwelcome roadside conference with a member of the Michigan State Police. The speeds you can obtain in the Porsche 911 Turbo are that deceptive. I launched the car onto one of my favorite on-ramps onto I-94, and as I merged into the traffic lane, my passenger, a keen enthusiast, admonished me that he didn't want me to go more than 80 mph. "I just want to hear the engine and get a sense of the car," he was saying. "I don't want you to lose your license." When I informed him that I was already going 107 mph at the end of the entrance ramp, he was shocked. "I had NO idea we were going that fast!"
As for the PDK itself, it comes with nicely damped paddle shifters that make a cool little "dunk" sound when you engage them. Unfortunately they follow the steering wheel's rotation rather than staying fixed to the steering column, which would be my preference.
Our black-on-black test car made just the right statement about the 911 Turbo's capabilities, I thought: this is a serious, and seriously capable, sports car of the highest order. I need more seat time!
- Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor