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2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S: A 40-Year Tradition That Never Gets Old

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author photo by Autotrader July 2017

When the 911 Turbo first hit American shores over 40 years ago, it introduced turbocharging as a staple of Porsche's high-end 911 range. But with federally-mandated fuel economy standards looming large, Porsche's latest power increases also required a corresponding bump in efficiency. Now turbocharging is prominent across the entire 911 Porsche lineup. Which begs the question: Does such a move detract from the 911 Turbo's mystique? Absolutely not -- because our recent road test with the range-topping 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S confirmed it's still the ranking 911, by a substantial margin.

Not All Turbos are Created Equal

Porsche's engineers went to great lengths to ensure the brand's wide range of turbocharged engines deliver power in the most natural, satisfying way possible. Yet the 911 Turbo S' engine has a character all its own. Its combination of a linear power curve, instant throttle response, plus a complete lack of turbo lag, means the Turbo S accelerates with the force of a premier performance car. Powerful thrust arrives just off idle and grows geometrically up to the 3.8-liter flat 6's redline at 7200 rpm. Acceleration occurs in a dramatically-refined fashion, leaving us repeatedly astonished by speedometer's speedy readouts. Naturally, flirting with triple digit speeds will not -- or rather should not -- occur often outside a closed course environment, which brings us to the Porsche's crown jewel: launch control. Hustling from zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds in a Turbo S is the single greatest acceleratory thrill this side of being launched from a steam catapult. And, unlike rival launch control systems, Porsche's meticulously-calibrated traction control software is able to deliver sub-three-second 0-to-60 launches on a consistent basis.

It may not be top of mind for prospective super car buyers, but the Turbo S is also surprisingly efficient. During a lengthy highway portion of our road test we achieved an impressive 26.4 mpg at an average speed of 71 mph -- not bad for a car offering 580 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.

The Art of Composure

Toss a set of race compound tires on a capable chassis and loads of grip will be your reward. But the 911 Turbo S takes cornering grip to the next level with some help from leading-edge traction enhancing technologies, such as rear-wheel steering, two-mode adaptive suspension dampers and a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system. Turn the wheel at any speed and the Turbo S responds with immediacy, while the well-tuned chassis and suspension work diligently to maintain a flat horizon. Add in this 911's ability to pull more than one G on a skidpad -- on street tires -- and it's safe to say most drivers will run out of nerve long before the Turbo S runs out of grip.

Braking performance could easily be overshadowed by such lofty horsepower figures, but the braking system found on the Turbo S deserves special attention. We're not sure how they did it, but Porsche succeeded in developing a set of carbon ceramic brakes that need to be heated up before functioning properly. They work from the moment the wheels begin to turn on a cool morning, and grasp with an intensity that will have you doing handstands off the steering wheel.

Feeling is Believing

Stratospheric performance numbers look impressive on a spec sheet, but the 911 Turbo S' prime selling point is feel. The sensation you get from driving this Porsche is unlike anything else on the road today. Whereas most performance cars transmit varying degrees of tactile information through the steering wheel, brake pedal, and seats, each of the Porsche's man-machine interaction points transmits a full-bodied amount of feedback. This degree of engineering finesse elevates the driving experience to an almost spiritual plane. It results in a blisteringly fast sports car that, despite a potentially imposing demeanor, always has your back -- even in the most demanding situations.

Of course, all this transcendent goodness doesn't come cheap, as the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S coupe begins right around $191,000, including destination fees, with soft-top Cabriolet models adding a $12,000 premium. Along with a seemingly endless assortment of custom colors, trims and materials, notable add-ons consist of full-range adaptive cruise control, 18-way front seats, which may just the most comfortable buckets ever fitted to a sports car, a 12-speaker audio system by Burmester, a quick-to-respond touchscreen multimedia center with Apple CarPlay integration, Porsche's revered 7-speed PDK dual clutch gear box, and modern active safety aides like pre-collision warning and blind spot monitoring.

It's also wise to remember the 911 Turbo S shouldn't be viewed as a novelty weekend toy. As a daily driver, the 911 Turbo S charms with a quiet cabin, excellent ergonomics, a firm but compliant ride and a turning radius that would put some compact cars to shame. Put it all together and you're left with a do-it-all high-performance car offering iconic good looks and a reputation to match.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Porsche 911 Turbo S: A 40-Year Tradition That Never Gets Old - Autotrader