The Turbo was the original top dog of the Porsche 911 lineup when it hit the scene in 1975. But subsequent 911 generations saw the Turbo become more of a grand tourer, eclipsed in the eyes of enthusiasts by track-ready variants like the GT3, GT2 RS and 911 R. Don't let that fool you into thinking the current 911 Turbo isn't still a fabulous sports car, though. After spending a week in a 2021 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, it would easily be my 911 of choice.
Almost nothing is truly different between the $185,950 Turbo cabrio and the $218,650 Turbo S cabrio (both prices including $1,350 for destination and $1,000 for a gas guzzler tax). The Turbo S' increases of 68 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque are thanks to slightly bigger turbochargers, but otherwise the two cars are mechanically identical. The Turbo S comes standard with features like carbon-ceramic brakes, center-lock wheels, active anti-roll bars and some other items that are optional on the base Turbo. All of those things are features I'd want anyway, and if you're already dropping this much cash on a 911 you might as well just go for the S. (Porsche says that the majority of Turbo S buyers custom-order their cars, while the majority of Turbos are bought off the lot.)
Using launch control in the 640-hp Turbo S feels like the real-life equivalent of the Millennium Falcon jumping to hyperspace in Star Wars. Porsche's official 0-to-60-mph quote is 2.7 seconds, but it's even quicker than that in reality. In fact, Car and Driver tested this exact car and found that it hit 60 in just 2.3 seconds and took a mere 5.4 seconds to reach 100 mph. It's absolutely brutal both physically and mentally, especially because there's no real drama to the way it accelerates. Launches leave your head spinning, your hands shaking and your heart racing. You'd think it would get old after a while, but it doesn't.
Even more staggering is the way the Turbo S accelerates when you're already at speed. Mash the throttle at 70 mph and you're well into triple digits in seconds, especially if you use the fabulous Sport Response button that selects the lowest possible gear from the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and sends the revs skyrocketing. I don't know if I've ever driven a car that made passing on the highway this effortless and fun -- or with this much potential for a bank-breaking speeding ticket.
While it's not as much of a pure sports car like the 911 GT3 or even a smartly optioned Carrera or GTS, the Turbo S is still hella fun when you're off the straightaways. The steering is basically perfect, the carbon-ceramic brakes are the best I've ever used and the ride is always composed. The torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, active aerodynamics and super sticky Pirelli P Zero tires (sized 315/30ZR21 in the rear) provide massive amounts of grip and with the standard rear-axle steering system the Turbo S turns into and rockets out of corners with ease. Optioned with the $3,490 sport exhaust, the Turbo sounds much rowdier than a regular Carrera, with a more aggressive, crackling overrun in Sport mode.
But for all this ferocity, the Turbo S can be super calm. Tone down your inner Mad Max War Boy and use the same level of throttle application as the Camrys around you and the 911 feels like, well, a regular car. The ride quality is fantastic despite this car's 0.4-inch-lower sport suspension ($1,510) and those huge wheels, at least as long as you keep the dampers in Sport mode. With the windows up and the powered wind deflector in place it's easy to have a conversation at highway speeds with the top down and with the top up the Cabriolet's cabin is just as quiet as a Turbo S Coupe. The standard 18-way adaptive sport seats are supremely comfortable even after a full day of hard driving on canyon roads and highways, though I do wish a massage function was offered.
Aside from the Turbo's wider body sometimes making it a pain to navigate through a parking garage or narrow street -- especially because this one doesn't have the $1,430 surround-view camera -- it's just as easy to drive every day as a normal 911. In Normal mode the only real cues that you're piloting something with this much power are the slightly louder exhaust noise at idle and the side scoops visible in the side mirrors. The icing on the cake is the pretty great gas mileage. I see 21 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg overall, beating the EPA's estimates for both -- and that's including a lot of very spirited driving.
The Turbo's cabin is just as luxurious and nice as any other 992-generation 911's, this one especially. It's got the $1,090 Truffle Club leather option, which covers nearly everything in brown leather with Chalk grey stitching. My test car also has the incredible $3,980 Burmester surround sound system, perfect for when -- or if -- you ever get sick of the exhaust's drama. Other key options include the fantastic $2,770 front-axle lift, $900 black brake calipers and $1,060 blind-spot monitoring system. All in this Turbo S is $234,570, which doesn't seem too crazy when put up against pricier supercar competitors like the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder.
The Turbo S is the 911 for me and I have newfound respect for all the doctors and executives I see using them as daily drivers in Los Angeles. And if you're gonna buy a Turbo you might as well go for the droptop -- it's much less compromised than other convertible versions of sports cars, and it's only $12,800 more expensive than the coupe, after all. It might not be as razor-sharp as the GT3 or as financially justifiable as a normal Carrera, but the 911 Turbo S is well rounded to the point of absurdity.