2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S Review

A 911 that eats GT-Rs for breakfast
By Imthishan Giado

 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Ever had one of those lucid dreams? The ones where you are totally aware that you are dreaming and a bit like the Matrix, can manipulate the environment as you deem fit? Those ones are great, aren’t they? Want to fly? No problem, you’re soaring through the clouds like a seagull. Want to be a James Bond superspy? Here’s the girls, here’s the gadgets, and here come the baddies…

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

The 911 Turbo S is the automotive manifestation of a lucid dream, because it bestows abilities upon you that feel nothing less than a superhuman. See a corner? Pick a speed, attack as you please, be as oafish with the controls as you fancy. See a speed on the dial? Kick hard with your right foot and you’ll be there in a matter of moments. And all in the comfort of a mobile concert hall with seats so comfortable, you’ll want them for your living room.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Exterior
Full admission for those who are just tuning in: I’m no giant fan of the iconic (read:unchanging) 911 body style and the seventh generation of Porsche’s often retouched masterpiece is a bit…chunky compared to its muscly, toned forebears. Nevertheless, the Turbo S is the best iteration yet. 1.1 inches wider than the already-widened Carrera 4, riding on suitably standard 20s, this steroid-pumped body is unmistakably the pinnacle of the range, the Hulk squeezed into a Brioni suit. Aggressive, voluptuous and most importantly striking, I can find no flaw with its appearance. Which is not to say that I love it unreservedly, but Porsche-philes will be beside themselves with joy for this one.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

A stroke of genius from the Porsche Press office as well to paint this car in screaming yellow; I don’t hold that every 911 should be cast in dull silver, grey or chocolate brown and in this flaxen Racing Yellow, everyone is compelled to give you a second look. Mind you, with 560bhp (on this top of the line S model) and 516 lb ft of torque, they won’t be looking at you for long, will they?

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Interior
If there is any downer at all with the Turbo S, it’s the cabin. Not that anything’s wrong with it – expect the usual Germanic levels of precision assembly, flawless panel gaps and impeccably-finished leather surfaces throughout. New too, to the 911 is this sense of airy space throughout the cabin, a beneficiary of the extra lateral girth.  But there’s no escaping the sense that if you’ve sat in one modern Porsche, you’ve sat in them all. From Boxster to Panamera, the view from the driver’s seat is reassuringly familiar, if lacking in surprises.

Nevertheless if you like a lack of surprise – and let’s face it, that’s why you buy a 911 – this car is perfect for you. The high-end Burmester stereo turns your crappy-bitrate MP3s into concert-hall masterpieces, the Adaptive Sports seats on this fully optioned car are instantly comfortable, and as always, there’s too much wind noise on the highway to spoil what is otherwise a very good GT car.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Those of you who like to be wilfully different will be right chuffed: there’s nearly 60 grand worth of options on this particular car. Some are essential – that stereo, those seats – and some are too frivolous for words. A key painted to match the external colour? The same for the A/C vents? Seat belts in racing yellow to clash with whatever shirt you’re wearing today?

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

The Drive
OK, forget about the money you can spend on options. Forget about the price – you may find that hard, because this costs, wait for it, AED659,500. That’s right, nearly seven hundred thousand dirhams for a car that doesn’t wear a prancing horse on the nose. You won’t care, because this 911 will be the fastest car you’ll ever drive.

That’s right. And that includes you, snot-nosed punks in your hopped up GT-Rs. The Turbo S will decimate everything – yes, even the mighty F12 Ferrari –in a straight line. Blame the immense starting traction afforded by those 20-inch wheels and four wheel drive; there is the merest hint of turbo lag, then once you crack 2000rpm this thing bullets off the line like Justin Bieber towards his favourite Panamanian prostitute.

The sensation of rapid, instantaneous torque is immense and unlike a GT-R, the magic of the Turbo S is that you don’t feel isolated from the experience once you get up to speed. Sure, the steering isn’t the last word in tactile sensory feedback, but it’s damned direct and the front end is so pointy that you are a Golden God of driving, the moment you mash that pedal.

PDK is really the magic ingredient here. I’m as a big an advocate of manual boxes as they come, but even I have to admit that I’m beat when it comes to Porsche’s application of dual-clutch transmissions – it just knows when to be in the right gear and is never, ever caught out, always keeping the tiny 3.8-litre flat six in the perfect point within its powerband. Whether you’re on the track or going to the mall, leave it in Drive – PDK does it all with aplomb.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

A couple of neat tricks debut on the Turbo S, that come from the regular 911 and make the handling even better than the already high standard of the previous model. One is Porsche Torque Vectoring, which uses a combination of an electronic limited slip diff and braking of selected wheels to punt the Turbo S even harder into the bends. Then there’s active rear axle steering: yup, the rear wheels can turn just like your Honda Prelude did back in the 80s. I’ll promise you’ll feel when you’re going quick, and I can also promise that the weird feeling of the back end becoming suddenly mobile while you have to keep your foot pegged on the throttle is one that never stops being weird.

Just under ten years ago, the Veyron redefined how fast you could get to 100kph with a standing run of 2.5 seconds. Now a 911 – a car that you can take to the shops, your kids to school and then a trackday in the weekend – is only a hairsbreadth behind at 2.9 seconds. The performance this car can deliver is astonishing, and the in gear punch breathtaking.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

But….you were waiting for a but, weren’t you? Well, not so much as a but as a proviso. At the kind of speeds most people do, the Turbo S is a tarmac eating monster. But get fast – and I’m talking really, won’t-admit-on-this-website-fast – and there is a problem.

The problem is that electronic steering. When you’re going super quick and the car is doing all sorts of amazing electronic tricks to shrink the wheelbase and so on…the steering has what can only be described as a lag that translates into punishing understeer. A brief moment of delay, but enough to make the front end push hard. Admittedly, you can dial this out with the application of more throttle and letting the 4WD system sort it out, but there’s no question that Porsche still have more work to do on that steering rack.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Verdict
1200 words written and I haven’t even gotten around to amazing bits like the unfadeable ceramic brakes or the active aerodynamics that extend the front splitter at speed. Truly, the Turbo S is a staggeringly fast instrument of speed, that cossets as easily as it thrills. Spotty GT-R nerds, take note: this is why you buy a Porsche, so that you don’t have to deal with compromises like a harsh ride or Stormtrooper-helmet levels of visibility. With the Turbo S, you can truly have it all.

OK, it’s silly expensive. But then, in terms of performance what can you really compare it to? It’s quicker than a 458 and murders the latter for a practicality. A Bentley is more luxurious and practical but doesn’t have anywhere the driving feel or sheer velocity, unless you opt for the million-plus Speed cars. What’s more, for most people of average skill the Turbo S offers plenty of accessible performance – ie the straightline kind. Sure, the new GT3 will be quicker in the bends but it also requires a really skilled hand at the wheel. By the way, when’s the last time you saw bends in the Middle East?

So in the end, the Turbo S stays where it always is – a mathematical anomaly. Alone, aloof, and kind of awesome. A bit like Batman, really.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S
Specs
Price: AED659,600 (US$179,580) AED 715,590 as tested
Engine: 3.8-litre flat-six, 560bhp @ 6500-6750rpm, 516lb ft @ 2100-4250rpm
Performance: 2.9secs 0-100kph, 317kph, 9.7L/100 (est)
Transmission: seven-speed DSG, four-wheel drive
Weight: 1604kg

 

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