The $224,000 Porsche 911 Turbo S is the greatest sports car ever made. But the all-new model sets a higher standard than ever.

by insider@insider.com (Matthew DeBord) | Business Insider

Business Insider

Magnificent.
Magnificent.

Matthew DeBord/Insider

It’s not unusual for me to test Porsches in quick succession. But it is odd to have back-to-back 911s, as I recently did with the eighth-generation of the greatest sports car ever made, designated 992.

Porsche loaned me a 911 Carrera 4S for a week, then the geniuses of Stuttgart said I could have a European-spec Turbo S to savor for a weekend.

Too much, too much!

The 4S had already captured my heart, mind, body, and soul — it’s the best 911 I’ve ever driven.

Would the Turbo S be more of a great thing? 

Good question. Read on to find out:

Greetings, Porsche 911 Turbo S! $224,000 worth of glorious-ness from Stuttgart, in a blue metallic paint job. Base price before extras was about $204,000.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

I’ve been busy with the 992 installment of the 911 — prior to the Turbo S, I sampled the less expensive but extremely compelling 4S.

Porsche 911.
Porsche 911.

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Read the review.

The 911’s unmistakable design has been more or less unchanged since the early 1960s. Over the decades, however, the styling has become sleeker and more aggressive.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

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Longer, wider, but in the 2020s, flowing lines and none of the over-the-top touches that distinguished the 911 in the 1970s and 1980s.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

For example, here’s a 1979 911 that belonged to football great Walter Payton. More spoiler!

Porsche 911 1979
Porsche 911 1979

Porsche

So the new Porsche 911 Turbo S doesn’t lack for wing-age …

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

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… but this classic 911 feature is a high-tech wing. It can adjust to better manage the dynamic airflow over the vehicle, enhancing downforce.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

A closer look.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

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Peek below the wing and you learn all you need to know about this beast and its nameplate.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The rear wing combines with a variable front spoiler lip and active cooling vents. In all, the Turbo S has been engineered to make maximum use of the torrents it generates from its impressive speed.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

I was sort of amused by the European plate: “S GO!” And indeed, I did make this Turbo S go in the short time I had to test it.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Th 911 might have been continuously improved since 1963, but it remains a bug-eyed wonder. There’s no getting around those signature headlights — it’s a love ’em or hate ’em kind of deal.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

I love ’em. And to their credit, these are lamps of staggering sophistication.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

They’re called “LED Matrix” headlamps, and the have a super-cool four-point running-light configuration. At night, they provide breathtaking illumination. (My tester also had a $2,400 night-vision feature as an option.)

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

As with all Porsches, while the front end is predictable, the rear end does not present a good angle.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The powerful haunches and the fastback roofline add some dynamic character, but they also exaggerate the sheer amount of back end that the 911 has.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

On the plus side, the tail lights are scant daggers — incredibly crisp and sharp.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The dual sport exhaust ports are … $3,400 extra.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

I thought the side vents were cosmetic, but Porsche informed me that they do indeed send airflow to the engine.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Up front, we have 20-inch wheels, with 10-piston aluminum calipers and vented discs — a serious upgrade from the 911 4S’s brakes.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Out back, we have 21-inch wheels, with 4-piston calipers and vented discs. The rubber for my tester was a sticky set of Pirelli P Zeroes.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The most annoying feature of the new 911 is the self-presenting door handle.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

One of the world’s top automotive badges.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

911s aren’t noted for cargo capacity. The front trunk can handle — maybe — a pair of overnight bags.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Emergency equipment is included and stowed.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

I must report that, in one aspect, the 911 Turbo S is no different from any 911 we’ve reviewed: We can’t show you the legendary boxer engine.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

So trust me that an incredibly potent 640-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-six lives under there, making 590 pound-feet of torque. Both numbers are significant increases on the previous-generation Turbo S: 60 more horses and 37 more pound-feet. That makes this 992 Turbo S the most powerful 911 ever.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The power is sent to the Turbo S’s all-wheel-drive system though an eight-speed dual clutch transmission. The shifter is a bit tricky to get used to. There’s also a manual mode, with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Let’s slip inside!

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The car invites you into its sanctum.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The slate-gray leather interior is rather minimalist for a car this expensive. Other tones are limited to brushed metal and piano-black surfaces, as well as some Alcantara.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Legroom isn’t bad for the passenger but …

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

… you can forget about comfort if you’re in the 911’s nominal back seat. This car has long been a 2+2 in theory more than practice.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The front seats are heated.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The interior details are almost studiously restrained.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Here’s where all the action happens for the driver.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The combination digital-analog instrument cluster should be familiar to any Porsche enthusiast.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The tachometer is front-and-center.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

An analog speedometer is off to the left.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The right-hand cluster can be customized to display various kinds of information, using a thumbwheel.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Here’s night vision, for example.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

And GPS navigation.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The chronograph is a cool feature. You can clock 0-60 times, or time laps.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

It syncs to the famous stopwatch that’s located in the middle of the dashboard.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Drive modes are Normal, Sport, Sport-Plus, and Individual. Punch the center button and you get a timed boost — but the max turbo output in the Turbo S is now available at all times, not just when the boost is activated.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Paddle shifters are solid, yet subdued.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

In Sport-Plus, you can really hammer the Turbo S, and you’d better be prepared for some serious kicks in the spine.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The starter is still on the left side, but Porsche has dispensed with using the key fob as an ignition key.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The fob is 911-shaped!

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Storage? Ha! That’s what the back seats are for!

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

The HVAC controls are all straightforward.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

What’s this?

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Yes, it’s the worst cupholder in the automotive world.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

My tester car came with a $4,000 Burmester premium audio system that … didn’t actually sound that great. I don’t have an explanation — this is among the finest audio setups money can buy.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

Infotainment runs off a central touchscreen that’s bright and responsive.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

In my limited time with the Turbo S, I had no issues. The infotainment system offers Bluetooth pairing, USB device connectivity, and navigation.

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

So what’s the verdict?

Porsche 911 Turbo S
Porsche 911 Turbo S

Matthew DeBord/Insider

In the 911 hierarchy, the Turbo S is the top dog, sitting atop the Carrera and GTS ranges. The $200,000-plus price tag is daunting, but for the most serious drivers, the Turbo and Turbo S are the pinnacle of Porsche-ness.

You already know that the new 911 Carrera 4S is the best 911 I’ve ever driven. Obvious next question: Is the Turbo S better?

Hard one to answer. The 4S is about as much car as I want on civilian roadways. The Turbo S is, to be honest, is too much. This car wants a race track in the worst possible way.

As you make your way up the 911 ladder, you go from sublime motoring to something approaching a brutal subduing of the asphalt beneath your Pirellis. In the Turbo S, it’s a hell of a ride.

When you lay it down, it’s a mighty hammer — but with no muscle-car feeling about it. The whole fiery affair is just … so … balanced. This is and always has been 911’s thing: so much fury, yet controlled. I mean, I absolutely blasted into some tight corners, hit the brakes hard, then got right back on the throttle as I input some intense steering and the Turbo S simply absorbed it and stuck its nose back into the wall of air that it was slicing through. 

A pro driver could unsettle the 911 Turbo S. Probably. I couldn’t. Definitely.

The insanely stable 4S comes off as downright tossable by comparison with the Turbo S. You are, in a word, stuck to the pavement in the Turbo, despite the wail of the boxer six behind you and persistent sense that there must be somehow, some way to get the rear tires to surrender adhesion. But no, the grip is endless. 

The speed is staggering: o-60 mph in 2.6 seconds, according to Porsche, and possibly 2.5, according to me. The top speed is 205 mph, but passing the legal speed limit, however briefly, might make you think you’ve bent time. 

As with the 4s, the Turbo S has quite a workable punch. You have excellent torque command in all eight gears, although the action happens in three-through-five. The burbles and gurgles are present, sonically augmented, and at their nastiest in Sport-Plus. But a Lamborghini this isn’t; the power is visceral rather than auditory.

The 911 has become a platform for incredibly wide experimentation at Porsche. It’s remarkable that a “bad” design — Who puts and engine over the back wheels? — has been so compellingly evolved to the sort of objective magnificence that the Turbo S offers.

It’s much too much for daily life. But if you want to be impressed, impressed, impressed — stunned, even, into stupefied admiration — then the 2020 Porsche 911 Turbo S is your chariot.

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