CAR CHRONICLES

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo Brings Effortless Performance

As always, Porsche’s 911 Turbo makes it ridiculously easy to go ridiculously fast. But this new one is even more well-rounded than before.

A quick canyon run in the 2021 911 Turbo is like going for a jog with a greyhound. Only one of you will be working at your limit. We’d call it surgically precise, but anyone still using the scalpel metaphor to describe the Turbo deserves to be shanked with one, not just for unimaginative wordplay but because a regular old steel knife doesn’t describe the micron-precise character of a 992 Turbo. You need something sharper. Something diamond tipped or obsidian. This car moves like laser light. It can slice atoms. It launches so hard to 60 mph you might only have 2.4 seconds to swallow your tongue.

It’s not raw horsepower that gives the 911 Turbo its surgical speed, although its twin-turbo 3.7-liter flat-six engine—now making 572 horsepower—is hardly lacking. What’s more impressive is that those horses are sturdy beasts with a low, wide stance and a stable temperament. You can’t startle them, and although you might be able to get a squeal out of the Pirelli tires, it’s more of a war cry than a call for help. It takes a lot of tech to train ponies, and the 911 Turbo is a combination of mechanical and electronic brilliance. The front track width of the 2021 911 Turbo is actually slightly narrower than that of the standard Carrera, but the rear is nearly two inches wider.

It’s 0.4 inch wider than the previous Turbo. Anchoring that extended track are big tires staggered to almost hot-rod levels, with 255/35R-20-inch rubber on standard 9.0-inch-wide wheels in the front and 315/30R-21s on 11.5-inch wheels in the back. Those big wheels turn like skinnies thanks to a retuned steering setup. Even the back tires are there to help by adding rear-axle steering to your all-wheel-drive slice and dice. Then, of course, there are the brakes, 16.1-inch full moons that will bring you down from triple digits as reliably as a concrete wall—and with much less damage.

Shifts in the eight-speed transmission happen quicker than you can think of how you’d rather have a manual, and once you lower the whole thing down by 0.4 inches with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, you’re pretty much racetrack-ready. If our fractional-inch breakdown doesn’t give you the proper thrill, think of it this way: Taking the 911 Turbo around corners feels like someone has pulled the road straight in front of you. It’s genuinely surprising to look in the rearview mirror and see that it was winding.

But all of this is what we expect from the 911 Turbo. A car that starts at $172,150 and can get to $200,000 almost as quickly as it can reach its 199-mph top speed ought to be a capable road-carver. It also should be a standout when it’s standing still. From outside, the Turbo shares most of the speedy jellybean looks of all 911s, but a walkaround shows that every inlet is just a smidge bigger, there’s an extendable front spoiler, and in the back it’s all ducktail and ducting, with a rear wing above the taillight bar and large air intakes in the rear fenders.

In order to sound as tough as it looks, our test car came with the sport exhaust (a $3490 option), which changes the exhaust tips from the standard rectangular shape to ovals and gives the 911 an irritable snarl, sure to separate your car-loving neighbors from those who like to sleep in.

Where the Turbo really earns its badges—a $310 option available in a variety of colors if you want them—is between high-speed sprints. The Turbo’s cabin isn’t just an acceptable place to spend a day. It’s a pleasure, a cocoon that hugs you gently, yet still offers enough room between you and a passenger for each person to maintain a sense of individual self. Back seats, as expected in any 911, are better suited to a picnic basket than picnickers, but you could shove a small pal back there in a transportation emergency.

In advance of track testing, we gave our 911 a street test, taking it on a scavenger hunt in search of “muffler men,” those roadside-attraction fiberglass giants built in the 1960s to advertise tire shops and transmission swaps. Exact locations of road-trip oddities can be difficult to pin down, so it made for a good challenge of the 911’s map display, outward visibility, and last-minute turning radius. “Over there, I see one!” shouted my passenger, prompting a hard brake application and sudden U-turn, both of which the Turbo handled as casually as it would a turn into a driveway.

Speaking of turning into driveways—often an Achilles’ heel of sports cars—steep entries and unexpected speedbumps don’t bother the 911. Even without using the optional nose lift, we were able to navigate curb cuts and skim a gravel parking lot as we hunted down L.A.’s plastic colossi. If we decide to revisit a particularly difficult entrance, the GPS coordinates of any spot can be saved and will automatically lift the car on approach.

The 911 Turbo’s everyday ease paired with arrest-me-now performance is what makes this car worth big bucks. It’s good at everything, making it not a surgeon’s scalpel after all but a handy, handsome, Swiss Army knife.

Specifications

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo

VEHICLE TYPE
rear-engine, all-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe

BASE PRICE
$172,150

ENGINE TYPE
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve flat-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement
229 in3, 3746 cm3
Power
572 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque
553 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm

TRANSMISSION
8-speed dual-clutch automatic

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 96.5 in
Length: 178.5 in
Width: 74.8 in
Height: 50.9–51.3 in
Passenger volume: 74 ft3
Cargo volume: 5 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 3650 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 2.4 sec
100 mph: 5.6 sec
1/4 mile: 10.5 sec
Top speed: 199 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 17/15/20 mpg

Per: Car and Driver

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