2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S review: One punch

Starting at $161,800
  • Engine Flat 6 Cylinder Engine, Turbocharged
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • MPG 21 MPG
  • Passenger Capacity 4
  • Body Type Coupes

Roadshow Editors' Rating

8.6 Overall
  • Performance 9
  • Features 8.5
  • Design 9
  • Media 7.5

The Good The Turbo S will take whatever you can throw at it, and then some.

The Bad There's a whole lot of tire noise, and the infotainment lacks Android Auto.

The Bottom Line With its unrelenting wallop of turbo power, the Turbo S rightly asserts itself as one of the finest examples of Porsche’s mighty 911.

Sometimes, a superhero can be too powerful.

In the Japanese comic "One-Punch Man," the hero Saitama can destroy just about every baddie in the universe with a single punch. He tries desperately to find someone, anyone who can put up a real fight and make things interesting, but in the end, Saitama throws one punch and subsequently falls headfirst into an ocean of self-imposed ennui.

That's the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S in a nutshell. Porsche's hottest version of its decades-old nameplate is eminently capable, rattling off confounding performance figures without even breaking a sweat. It'll take everything thrown in its direction and continuously cry out for more, like I'm insulting it by even choosing to hop in the driver's seat and drive it below ten-tenths.

Yes, it's just that good.

Under-the-radar looks

Saitama does not look like a serious superhero. All his colleagues have these wild outfits, while he makes do with a spit-shine bald head and an unassuming yellow spandex getup. The 911 Turbo S is much the same -- with only a few extra vents, some air inlets and center-locking wheels, the car looks relatively sedate given its $190,000 base price, my tester's metaphor-enhancing yellow paint job notwithstanding. But not everybody wants rubbernecking drivers snapping Instagram pictures at every stoplight. I consider this one of the subtlest ways to have my eyeballs pressed into my skull.

The interior also isn't much different than the base 911. My tester's steering wheel is devoid of switchgear, pointing to the car's desire to be driven with focus. The leather feels nice, and the standard sport seats are plenty supportive. It's a bit surprising that my tester has so many blank buttons, but that's Porsche for you -- there are plenty of pricey options to fill those blanks.

Cargo space in the 911 Turbo S is limited to the front trunk and whatever I can jam behind the front seats. The frunk will swallow up a few days' worth of groceries for two, or a full-size bag of dog food, but not both. The rear seats are the same as every other 911 -- for display purposes only, unless you have small children.

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S

If you make an adult ride in the back seats, you're mean.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Over-the-top performance

The 911 Turbo S' figures aren't world shattering on paper -- its 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged flat-six puts out 580 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. But it's less about the boat and more the motion of the ocean, and dear heavens, the Turbo S drops the damn sea on my head.

Launch control shatters my perception of time and space. I move the perpetually satisfying dual-clutch gearbox shifter into D, change to Sport+ mode, turn off the traction control and shove both pedals into the firewall. The revs rise and hover as the gauge display tells me launch control is ready. As I lift my foot off the brake, the all-wheel-drive Turbo S thrusts itself forward with almost no wheelspin, and before I know it, the car blows past 60 miles per hour and keeps climbing. It is drama-free, utterly mind-blowing acceleration, and, best of all, repeatable in short order. Stopping happens equally quickly thanks to standard carbon-ceramic brakes.

No matter how quickly I throw the Turbo S into a corner, no matter how many times I engage launch control, the car is unflappable. It takes the lickin', keeps on tickin' and never stops asking for more. It's bored of me, of my antics, of my desire for egregious but prudent speed. It spends its days imagining some far-off racetrack where it can really let loose, at the hands of some driver who is better and probably more handsome than I.

There are other, better 911 variants that feel much more engaging at legal speeds. The Carrera GTS, for example, has a usable amount of power that feels more rewarding on the road. If you want sports-car antics, you're better off aiming in that direction.

The Turbo S is almost a full-on grand tourer these days, albeit one that can separate skin from a skeleton at every stoplight. Yet, with egregious road noise from its Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires (245/35-ZR20 front and 305/30-ZR20 rear) and a suspension that's less comfortable than the hydraulic-based magic happening in the McLaren 570S, it doesn't feel as at-ease as it could or should.

Despite its performance figures, the 911 Turbo S returns surprisingly decent fuel economy. The EPA rates it at 19 miles per gallon city and 24 mpg highway, numbers I find easy enough to hit, with my highway economy creeping closer to 26 or 27 around the 55-mph mark.

Suitable in-car tech

The 911 Turbo S still runs the older version of Porsche's PCM infotainment system, but it has some newish tricks up its sleeve. Apple CarPlay is standard, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, but Android Auto is frustratingly absent. Its seven-inch screen is responsive and easy to use with just quick glances, and voice recognition reduces distraction further. If you want the latest and greatest PCM iteration, as seen on the new Cayenne and Panamera, you'll have to wait for the next-generation 911.

The instrument cluster retains Porsche's traditional five-gauge layout, but the fourth housing from the left has been swapped out in favor of a configurable display. Using a lever behind the steering wheel, I can see various fluid temperatures, the current song playing or even a small map with navigation directions. Some settings, like Individual mode configuration, are only available through this specific screen, which can be confusing to new owners, but it doesn't take long to get a grasp of everything.

As for the latest and greatest safety systems, they aren't standard, but they're there. $2,490 will get you adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, forward collision warning and automatic braking. Blind-spot monitoring is available for $850, too.

How I'd spec it

Porsche allows its cars to be configured eight ways from Sunday, and I'm picky, so we'll be going well beyond the Turbo S' base price of $190,700 and my tester's $193,440 window sticker (which includes $1,050 for destination).

The Chalk paint color is a must-have, even at $3,150. Keyless entry adds another $1,100, though it should be standard at this price point. $2,590 adds a front-axle lift that's necessary for my steep driveway. I'll throw down another $850 for blind-spot monitoring and $840 for seat ventilation, and that brings the price to an expensive-but-not-offensive $200,280.

Down to brass tacks

$190,700 is a big pill to swallow, but the 911 Turbo S aligns with the rest of the "entry-level" supercar segment, slotting in above a base Mercedes-AMG GT and below a Lamborghini Huracan, but running about even with the McLaren 570S.

Those are some heavy hitters, but they're also incredibly flashy vehicles that wear their performance on their sleeves. The 911 Turbo S slinks along in the background, waiting for the right moment to throw the single punch that registers on the Richter scale. It might never be content, but its owner sure will be thanks to outstanding performance and the right amount of tech.