Sometimes it's easy to lose track of how many versions — a couple of dozens — of Porsche's iconic rear-engine 911 are available. Well, the Turbo S carves out a new niche, equipped as it is with Porsche's rapid-fire dual-clutch automatic, which makes it a civilized supercar in daily driving.
Appearance: The Ice Blue Metallic is one of the most striking exterior colors we've seen on any car. It works really well on the 911, softening the broad, extra-wide body with its side air intake and auto-extending rear spoiler.
Performance: The important numbers from this 3.8-liter twin-turbo 6 cylinder: 530 horsepower, 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 195 mph. Whew. All that power is delivered smoothly through the 7-speed PDK transmission. This may be the first time we've ever driven a sports car and not missed having a manual gearbox; the automatic with the large alloy paddle shifters is that quick. The steering is tight and precise, and road feel is superb. As Lyra said: "You can put it where you want it." (Traction management, all-wheel drive and 19-inch wheels help.) Even without using launch control, the straight-line acceleration is simply exhilarating. The Sport Chrono package allows you to change the performance with the press of a button, which may be its most amazing feature. In Sport Plus mode, the car's personality changes from almost docile to beastly: There's more aggressive throttle response, the shift points change (goodbye seventh gear) and the ride stiffens. To handle all that power, the optional ceramic composite brakes give immediate response and sure stopping power. Amid all this performance, we had one nit: Any slight tap of a paddle shifter puts the car in manual mode; you can do it inadvertently when turning the wheel.
Interior: The leather-wrapped cockpit is as sharp as the exterior, with titanium blue and black trim. The adaptive sports seats adjust their bolstering to your driving, hugging you tight in aggressive cornering. There are rear "seats," but they are mostly a formality — even a child will be cramped — and put to better use with the seatbacks folded down for shelf space. The front "trunk," however, has 3.7 cubic feet of room, which is large enough for a weekend bag and then some. Of course, this being a Porsche, there's an attractive and easy-to-read five-gauge instrument cluster and electronic gadgets: a 6.5-inch 3-D navigation screen, Bluetooth and MP3 hookups.
Our 3 favorites
Color: Ice Blue Metallic is an eye-catching departure from your normal sports car color.
Performance: Again, I say: wow.
Transmission: The dual-clutch PDK seems a perfect fit for all this power.
Stunner: The most beautiful blue we've seen on a car.
Performance: Smooth, steady and extremely powerful acceleration, plus great handling.
Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde: Take your pick: mild or wild.
The bottom line: Porsche purists can argue over whether this is the ultimate 911, but for all-around drivability and performance, the Turbo S sure feels like it to us.