2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S review by The Straight Pipes. The Porsche 911 992 Turbo S is pumping out 641hp and 590 lb-ft tq from a Twin Turbo 3.8L Flat 6 engine. Sitting at $241,540 CAD, would this be your pick over the Mercedes-AMG GTR, Mercedes-AMG GTC, Audi R8, Nissan GTR, Acura NSX, or Lamborghini Huracan, Jaguar F-Type SVR?
I’m going to apologize in advance for this review of the new Porsche 911 Turbo S. If you’re expecting tales of derring-do, of off-ramps boogied and rubber burnt, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.
We continue to deal with COVID-19 here in Toronto and not only is there less traffic on the road — meaning Johnny Law has an easier time of separating the wheat from the chaff — but a few imbecilic youngsters have recently taken it upon themselves to challenge said constabulary’s control of the road.
Most recently on Victoria Day, some 300 idiots gathered to shoot off some fireworks while doing burnouts — and it takes a special case of stupidity to advertise the fact that you’re breaking the law — in a Toronto suburb. Before that, some clueless teen decided to see what daddy’s AMG’d Mercedes could do. As it turns out, the answer was 308 km/h, the highest speed Ontario’s provincial police have ever recorded on a public road.
To say that the heat is on in the greater metropolitan Toronto area would be a vast understatement; the next scofflaw that tries to challenge Ontario’s finest is likely to suffer a warning shot to the back of the head. So, if you’re given to ennui when a supercar’s might remains wimpily untapped, then perhaps you should move on.
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Certainly, the new 2021 version of Porsche’s iconic 911 Turbo deserves better. Indeed, were it not for those damnable “wet” markets in Wuhan, not only would these kidlets not have put the local radar cops — and the fear of God in me — on high alert, there would’ve been a press launch where our German hosts would have taken us to Spain (or better yet, Italy) where we could have scofflawed to our heart’s content. They might even have taken us to a racetrack — Portimao, or again, better yet, Imola — so I could give you complete pedal-to-the-actual-metal reporting.
Alas, you’ll have to do with a normal road test with only the slightest hint of silliness. We might have found an especially deserted part of Toronto, close to a whole passel of closed doughnut shops.
Even with minimal madness involved, however, it’s easy to tell this new 911 Turbo S is a different animal. Every previous all-wheel-drive version of the bi-turbo’d 911 has been a little, let’s call it, gentrified. Yes, it was fast; with 580 horsepower, the previous 991 Turbo was hardly slow.
But it was — at least, felt — tame. Admirers (and I would be one of them) of Porsche’s ability to make so much speed and power so easily handled would call it accessible. Its detractors — usually a hoary old lot with aviator sunglasses and way-too-expensive driving gloves — thought it homogenized, a supercar softened for the masses. They desired something that allowed to seek that hallowed “edge.” More difficult to drive, to be sure, but ultimately more rewarding to drive.
The 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S is that car.
Yes, the animal is back and it will bite hard. Indeed, even in the few times when I let braggadocio trump future insurance premium hikes, it became apparent that the Turbo’s edges have been definitely sharpened. Much of that is the result of the new engine. Credit larger turbocharger — the turbine wheel is up five millimetres in diameter and the compressor 2.5 millimetres — for the extra power, but you can get the new Turbo S all kinds of sideways even with the traction control system on.
Oh, said vehicle stability nanny will eventually bring things back, but like the last Corvette ZR1 I tested, sometimes the Porsche’s 640-horsepower, 3.8-litre flat-six can get wheels spinning quicker than electrons can tame them.
Where you could often just mash previous 911 Turbos and let the combination of all-wheel-drive and Porsche Traction Management handle the wheel spin, you now have to be more than a little judicious with your right foot. Like I said, the new Turbo will bite: all you dilettantes who bought a Porsche 911 Turbo because you could be stupid and safe at the same time have been forewarned.
Indeed, the Turbo S feels almost electric — and here, the metaphor is literal rather than figurative — in the way it launches. Thanks to Launch Control and seemingly bottomless torque, the 992 will churn stomachs would. Officially, it can hit 100 km/h in just 2.7 seconds. That sounds about right; my stomach starts doing backflips right around 2.8 seconds.
Unlike those lithium ion-powered dragsters, the 911 Turbo S isn’t all launch and no top speed. Indeed, the other amazing thing is how quickly the car responds to throttle. Previous versions were often described as being able to pass long 18-wheelers “in the blink of an eye.” Be prepared to blink faster; this one makes even the 750-horsepower Taycan Turbo S seem a tad lethargic. As I said, I didn’t get much of a chance to play super-fast silly buggers, but the 911’s advantage in high-speed acceleration over those EVs can only increase as the their electric motors start suffering from “back EMF” as the revs get higher. To be clear, the 2021 version of the Turbo S is clearly more powerful than those that have gone before it. It will, however, be more demanding of respect.
That’s probably why my second favourite feature — beyond the power, of course — are the acoustic rain sensors built into the wheel wells. Essentially, as soon as all the Pirellis start flinging water, the new 911’s sensors can “hear” the droplets hitting the inner fenders and inform you that you have to pay even more attention. Specifically, a little red warning light will appear in the driver mode section, alerting you to switch to the new Wet mode.
Let me be clear: It doesn’t automatically switch into tamer driving parameters — the low-end torque is reduced and the PDK transmission shifts slower, yet smoother — but is an advisory best heeded. I attempted a little wet road Sport mode heroics; It is not recommended. As I said, this one bites back. [Now who’s the imbecilic youngster? — Ed.]
As well as all that power, notable improvements are an interior made yet more civil and a touch more modern. The electronic transmission selector looks positively modern while retaining the real, relative Spartanism a sports car deserves. A noticeable difference between the 911 and a Porsche Panamera, for instance, is the latter is literally festooned with buttons and switches. The former? Not so much. There’s less distraction so that when bitten — and as I keep belabouring, it will bite — you’ll at least be looking in the right direction.
Other than that, it’s pretty much standard 911 fare. Oh, this tester had the sports suspension, which can lower the chassis an extra 10 millimetres, and widen both front and rear — “to further enhance driving dynamics,” says the Porsche press release. But, while I may have played with the throttle sufficiently to at least sample out the huge difference between this year’s powertrain and last year’s, I was not going to play off-ramp boogie long enough to suss out the subtle difference in road-holding between 911 and 992 chassis.
There were cops around and they, as my driving record so stipulates, bite as well.