Testing the Everyday Supercar, Every Day
Every 911 engine now comes equipped with a pair of turbos, but only one variant of this Germanic icon is simply known as “The Turbo.” It has been so since its 1974 introduction, so sayeth our lady of blessed acceleration, amen.
Along with the entire 911 model line, this ultimate turbocharged version, the Turbo S also receives a host of 991.2-generation revisions: refined styling, lighting, and aerodynamics, as well as a much-needed, comprehensive infotainment upgrade and gains in both power and efficiency.
Chief among these improvements are a special pair of turbochargers with larger impeller blades and a modified housing now specific to the weapons-grade S for the first time. For 2017, fuel injectors for both the Turbo and Turbo S cope with a system pressure of 2,900 psi, which is up from 2,030 psi. The Turbo S’ 3.8-liter direct-injected, variable-vane, turbocharged flat-six makes an astounding 580 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque (553 lb-ft in temporary 2.2 psi overboost mode between 2,250 and 5,000 rpm in Sport or Sport Plus mode) with virtually zero turbo lag.
Our track results can vouch for the newfound potency and response. It reaches 60 mph in 2.5 seconds (reading that sentence aloud takes 2.5 seconds). It does the 0–100 run in six flat (not bad for a flat-six), and blasts from 0 to 100 mph (160.9 km/h) and back in 9.7 seconds. It almost makes the Porsche’s 10.5-second, 131.8-mph (212.1 km/h) quarter-mile time anticlimactic.
So, for context: How does that stack up? This is the hardest-launching production car we’ve ever tested (0–30 mph (0-48.3 km/h) in 0.9 seconds, and also the quickest to 40 and 50 mph (64.4 and 80.5 km/h) as well). It’s the quickest 911 to 60 mph and in the quarter mile, and it has the highest trap speed. By 60 mph, it’s a mere 0.1 second behind the million-dollar 918 hybrid hypercar, and it’s behind by just 0.5 second at the quarter mile.
Launch in 3, 2, 1
Fortified by Porsche’s industry-standard double-clutch automated-manual transmission and with the addition of a new thumb wheel drive-mode selector (eliminating the Sport/Sport Plus button from the console), the launch protocol for the all-wheel-drive supercar is even easier than it was before.
It goes like this: Disable the traction control, rotate the wheel to Sport Plus, mash both pedals to the floor, and then release the brakes when the tach needle steadies at 5,600 rpm. If the tires are cold, the 3,557-pound car will spin the rears, even with 61 percent of its weight astern. The Turbo S sorts out how much power goes where and cracks off quick and liquid-smooth upshifts all by itself. It’s almost too easy, really. (New for 2017: Manual shift mode will now allow the engine to bang off the 7,200-rpm rev limiter rather than upshifting.) We tried softening the adjustable dampers for more rear-weight bias on one launch and experienced what can only be described as a wheelie. No one was there to witness it from outside the car, but with a combined two feet (305mm x 2) of properly heated rubber at the back, releasing the brakes caused the nose of the car to lift and point over the horizon like a bird dog. Steering did very little to affect its heading until somewhere close to 40 mph. After launching 1,500 cars in my career, even one that produced 1,000 horsepower on Hoosier racing slicks, this wheelie was a first for me—and it happened with Pirelli P Zero street tires and a 220-treadwear rating, which are good for 15,000 miles (24140.2 km). Speaking of grip, this car matches its Turbo S predecessor (wearing Dunolop Sport Maxx Race tires with an 80-treadwear rating) on our figure-eight test at 22.9 seconds, the latter slightly better on the skidpad with a 1.07 g lateral acceleration to the 2017 Turbo S’ 1.04 g. Thanks to standard 16.1-inch front and 15.4-inch rear carbon-ceramic brakes, now on their third generation, the new Turbo S also stops shorter from 60 mph (97 feet) compared to its forerunners. Supercar bar raised? You could say that.
The Everyday Supercar, Tested
You probably expected these feats of speed and agility from a $190,000 USD sports car. But what else we learned in a week is that this 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S is, indeed, the most practical supercar in the world. One could even say, as many have before, that it is the everyday supercar. Why? Unlike a two-door mid-engine supercar—say, the Audi R8, Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Huracán, McLaren 570S, or Mercedes-AMG GT S (technically, that’s also mid-engine)—the rear-engine 911 Turbo S has a useful amount of cargo space and four seats. There are, in fact, 4.1 cubic feet between the front wheels, and folding the rear jump-seats offers up an additional 9.2 cubic feet.
This father’s carpooling schedule requires shuttling three backpack-saddled and emotion-addled adolescents to and from school on Fridays. With the privilege of driving something different almost every week, I’m rather proud to say that the 911 has helped me foster a new generation of car enthusiasts (one boy and two girls). My daughter actually gave me a birthday cake with a Porsche crest on top of it, hence she already knows to go to the front of a 911 to toss her backpack in the luggage compartment. The next two, however, circled to the rear of the car to find not just the humming engine but also the new decklid grille with its vertical slats and central intake scoop ahead of the active wing. “It moves?” Jack asked, astonished. “It sure does,” I replied. “And so does the front spoiler. When they’re in the most aggressive positions at 186 mph (299.3 km/h), and it’ll top out at 205, they press the car down with 291 pounds (132 kg) of force.” I popped the front lid and easily stowed three overstuffed backpacks for the ride to school. They all now lolz the word “frunk.”
Once all four of us were securely buckled in, these seventh- and eighth-graders learned why the engine is “back there” and has been since the 911’s inception. They also learned how a variable-vane turbocharger works and that when my foot is off the accelerator pedal, this Porsche keeps the throttle open but shuts off the fuel supply to maintain the turbochargers’ momentum to effectively eliminate turbo lag altogether. They were able to experience the new Sport Response button, like a push-to-pass button that pre-emptively downshifts one gear, adjusts the turbine blades’ angle of attack, retards ignition timing, and in anticipation of acceleration, slightly opens the throttle valve for an even quicker response when I do go back to the gas pedal for up to 20 seconds at a time. Jack thought the 20-second countdown timer in the instrument panel was a good idea.
I also showed them the mechanicals of a Porsche’s PDK double-clutch automated-manual transmission (all three kids can now pronounce, “Doppelkupplung” properly, by the way). They learned that the manual-mode shifter is now oriented the same way as Porsche’s race cars—pulling the lever initiates an upshift and pushing it forward performs a beautiful, matched-rev downshift. As I rounded the first corner, I told them that the rear wheels also steer up to 2.8 degrees, or the equivalent of up to 45 degrees of steering input at the front, in opposite directions under 31 mph (49.9 km/h) and in the same direction over 50 mph. “Four-wheel drive and four-wheel steer? That’s crazy,” an incredulous voice said from the back seat. We ran out of time before I had the opportunity to show them the Turbo S’ new all-wheel-drive clutches that bite with more friction and more precision control than before, which improve the torque distribution and traction at all four wheels. They had a few precious minutes of furious texting before homeroom. Jack snapped a picture before heading off. Besides, we had after-school pickup for more 911 Turbo S fun facts.
Supercar Without Compromise
Had I been assigned any other supercar first test—and because of the carpool—I would have had to trade my automotive equivalent of a winning lotto ticket with a fellow staffer for a weekend car with four seats. Either that, or I would have had to beg the other carpool parents to fill in for me. Not this time. And what else could one do with a brand-new Lava Orange Turbo S that few have even seen? Why, head to a Cars and Coffee meet on Saturday morning. I swung by to pick up my fellow Porschephile only to discover another friend eagerly awaiting a ride to the gathering. “It’s a good thing this isn’t a McLaren,” I said. “I had a carload for carpool yesterday, so let’s see how three adults fare with 27 inches of rear legroom.” Although it was more tightly packed than with the kiddos, three adult-scale frames can fit—even for a 20-minute drive. With some sightlines obscured, I was grateful for the car’s new blind-spot monitor. The highway ride was deemed downright comfy due to the adjustable dampers and the fact that the anti-roll bars are substantially decoupled in steady straights. When we arrived at the parking lot, however, I wished this example were equipped with the newly available front-axle lift system, which affords an extra 1.5 inches of clearance. Instead, I retracted the front splitter and took an oblique line. No scrapes! And thanks to standard front/rear park assist with a rear camera, backing into a spot on Porsche row was anxiety-free. After the meet up and a demonstration of the Turbo S’ launch control, I dropped my friends back home and headed to the grocery store. The frunk swallowed four bags of sustenance plus a half dozen bottles of wine with ease.
The Peerless Porsche
So there you have it. From its record-setting day at the track to the desert and back for the photos you see here (with a self-reported 30.1-mpg (7.8 L/100km) average) to commuting on Los Angeles’ crowded freeways and carpooling and taking in a car show with friends and grocery shopping, the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S is, indeed, the everyday supercar without peer and a worthy guardian of its storied crown. Name another car that can so effortlessly accomplish all these milestones, tasks, feats, and deeds. Some will do some of what the Turbo S can, but none will do it all. “Is the lack of flaws a flaw?” Jonny Lieberman asked of the last 2015 911 Turbo S we put in a three-way comparison test. He answered himself, “I’m thinking, weirdly: kind of.” Does that make the 2017 Turbo S weirdly more flawed? I say, “Nope.” This machine is peerless.
|2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$196,360|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Rear-engine, AWD, 2+2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||3.8L/580-hp/516-lb-ft* twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve flat-6|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto.|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,557 lb (39/61%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||177.4 x 74.0 x 51.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.5 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||10.5 sec @ 131.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||97 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.04 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||22.9 sec @ 0.96 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||19/24/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||177/140 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.93 lb/mile|
|*553 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm in overboost|