- 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S Pros and Cons Review: Just Shy of Perfection
And that’s precisely the problem. Can a car be too clinically excellent?
Porsche 911 Full Overview
- Absolute magic on a back road
- Wonderful GT car
- Insanely quick
- Magic replaced by cold competency on the track
- Street tires only
We thought it was gone. Banished. We believed the good people of Stuttgart, with a bit of help from Weissach, had finally cured the Turbo’s one remaining weakness. Charging valiantly into our 2020 Best Driver’s Car field, though, the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S revealed that its Achilles’ heel remains.
That one issue, the one that’s deprived 911 Turbos of the past from more than one MotorTrend podium, is the car’s cold, emotionless virtuosity when pushed to the limit. (The 911 Carerra S, last year’s winner, does not have this problem.) It’s a trait that was far more apparent on previous Turbos, showing itself on the road and on the track. With this new 992-generation car, we thought it’d finally been vanquished.
It’s easy to see why we’d think so. In two back-to-back comparisons earlier this year, both the coupe and convertible annihilated their challengers. McLarens and AMGs couldn’t hold a candle to the new Turbo S on the road. And frankly, things weren’t much different this time around. Just a few corners without traffic are all it takes to experience that 911 Turbo magic—the way the car behaves exactly the way you want it to, exactly the way you expect it to, and exactly the way you instruct it to at every moment, so much so you don’t have to consciously think about it. The 911 Turbo S lets you drive by instinct at speeds where other cars demand every bit of your attention.
“It’s the meticulous engineering that makes it so accessible to every driver, regardless of skill,” road test editor Chris Walton said. “Anyone can jump into it and exceed their expected levels—by the second corner, I’m guessing.”
That’s it, we thought. The old 911 Turbo is dead. Long live the new Turbo. Then we drove it on the racetrack, and the last vestiges of the old Turbo showed themselves.
“This car is so perfect it’s anodyne, unobtrusive,” Walton said. “There’s no bother, but no excitement. It’s super capable. It does everything so well that you can’t mess up with this car. It solves everything. It is so uniquely competent.”
Competence doesn’t necessarily stir the soul. “Without a doubt, it’s the best car on Angeles Crest Highway,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said, “but on the track my feelings about it went down.”
Interestingly, our actual race car driver had the opposite reaction. “There’s a lot more GT3 stirred into the Turbo S than there used to be in the old days,” Randy Pobst said after hot laps of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “I felt so much like the car was an extension of myself. It was just locked into my driving so beautifully.”
Pobst’s inversion of opinion continued on the road: “This car’s only flaw is that it shows no fangs. It’s just so drivable that it rarely challenges. Its performance is at the forefront of the modern sports car fleet, and it’s so refined that it is not as entertaining.”
Either way, everyone felt much of the personality Porsche injected into the 911 Turbo S vaporized at some point in their drive, and it was back to making big numbers in the most efficient manner possible, not the most emotional.
Partly to blame, we think, are the tires. Pirelli P Zeros are great tires, and they do a phenomenal job on the road, even with this kind of power behind them. On the track, though, even Pobst agreed they just don’t have the capability to keep up with this 911. Yes, they’re still pulling a seriously impressive 1.10 lateral g, but there’s no doubt Corsa or Trofeo R tires would lead to faster—and therefore more thrilling—cornering speeds.
Would that be enough to reignite the spark? We think it might. For Porsche’s part, it says Turbo customers haven’t been interested in higher-performance tires, so it doesn’t offer them. Pity.
Looks good! More details?
|POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS||2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Rear-engine, AWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Twin-turbo flat-6, alum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||228.5 cu in/3,745 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||640 hp @ 6,750 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||590 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||5.7 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed twin-clutch auto|
|AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO||3.33:1 (front), 3.02:1 (rear)/1.84:1|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||16.5-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 15.4-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||9.5 x 20-in; 12.0 x 21-in, forged aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||255/35R20 93Y; 315/30R21 105Y Pirelli P Zero NA1|
|TRACK, F/R||62.4/63.0 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||178.6 x 74.9 x 50.9 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||35.8 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,628 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST, F/R||38/62%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||37.9/32.5 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.2/27.2 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||52.6/47.9 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||4.5 (front)/9.3 (rear seat folded) cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||1.0|
|QUARTER MILE||10.3 sec @ 132.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||97 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.10 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||22.5 sec @ 0.96 g (avg)|
|2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP||92.97 sec|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1,250 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$224,780|
|AIRBAGS||8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||4 yrs/50,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||17.6 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||15/20/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/169 kWh/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.15 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|
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