The 911 Turbo is an incredible sports car, and that's true with or without the new Lightweight Package.
The Porsche 911 Turbo S is truly outstanding; it's one of the greatest cars I've ever driven. It redefines what it means to be quick and fast, and it does so without sacrificing the top-dog 911's great handling or luxurious grand touring abilities. Porsche offers a new Lightweight Package for its 911 Turbo and Turbo S that adds a few performance goodies while also shedding 66 pounds from the coupe's curb weight. But after spending a week with a Lightweight 911 Turbo S, I just don't think this is the way to go.
The Lightweight Package is an $11,400 option on the 911 Turbo and a $10,340 upcharge on the Turbo S. It includes lighter glass, a lowered adaptive suspension, carbon fiber bucket seats and a sport exhaust. On top of that, the Lightweight Package removes some insulation and sound-deadening material, as well as the 911's otherwise-useless rear seats. You also lose creature comforts like heated seats and an electronically adjustable steering column.
Other than that, the Turbo S is exactly the same: A 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-6 engine pushes out 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Combined with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, Porsche claims the Turbo S can accelerate to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds, and independent tests performed by other media outlets have actually resulted in quicker times. It's incredible.
The Lightweight Package's 66-pound reduction doesn't make the 911 Turbo S quicker in a meaningful way, but it does make the experience more visceral. With thinner glass and fewer sound deadening materials, you're better able to hear the engine working its butt off right behind you. The sport exhaust produces a raspy, hearty tone, and it accompanies the flat-six in glorious harmony.
Porsche's active suspension tech scans the road ahead of you 200 times per second and can adjust the damping rates accordingly. The sport setup that comes with the Lightweight Package has a stiffer tune and lowers the Turbo's ride height by 0.4 inches -- which makes the Turbo S a bit uncomfortable over the long haul, especially over rougher roads or freeway expansion joints. The lack of coddling from the single-piece bucket seats amplifies this harshness, though Porsche will let you spec the Lightweight Package with more comfortable 18-way power-adjustable chairs at no extra charge.
Everything else is damn near perfect. The steering is quick and communicative and standard carbon-ceramic brakes have no trouble bringing the Turbo S to an immediate halt. Torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and standard rear-axle steering are both helpful aids when cutting up canyon roads, sending power where it's needed most and tucking the back wheels in slightly to give that extra little push through a corner. Speaking of which, the 911 Turbo S has a staggered wheel setup, with 20s up front and 21s out back, the latter of which come wrapped in extra-thick 315-section summer tires.
The Lightweight Package doesn't mess with any of the 911 Turbo S' active aerodynamic tech -- something that really helps this car stay hunkered down and stable during fast driving. Put the Turbo S in Sport Plus mode and the front lip, air intake flaps and rear spoiler all adjust on the fly, and the rear spoiler can act as an airbrake to help slow the car and improve stability under braking.
If anything, the main thing you notice about the Lightweight Package is how much more road and wind noise makes its way into the cabin; at freeway speeds, this thing is loud. It's no worse than something like a 911 GT3, and I do like how the rear-seat delete leaves you with a pair of large storage cubbies perfect for things like groceries or a honkin' tote.
But this is also where things start to fall apart for me. One of the 911 Turbo's best qualities is its ability to act as a comfortable GT car you'd want to drive over great distances in one sitting. The increased cabin noise goes against this, and the 66-pound diet isn't something you can genuinely feel. Plus, I prefer the Turbo's standard suspension setup to the too-stiff sport tune. If you want something more aggressive, just buy a GT3.
Here's the other thing: Aside from the lightweight glass and reduced insulation, everything that comes on the Lightweight Package can be fitted to a 911 Turbo or Turbo S a la carte -- and for less money. In the case of a 911 Turbo S specifically, the carbon buckets and rear-seat delete costs $4,760, the sport suspension is another $1,510 and a sport exhaust with silver tailpipes is $3,490. That comes out to a total of $9,760, compared to $10,340 for the all-inclusive Lightweight Package. No, a difference of $580 doesn't mean a whole lot on a car that starts at $208,350 (including $1,350 for destination), but all you're getting for that money is a louder cabin.
The Porsche 911 Turbo S is a fantastic sports car, one that rivals -- and often bests -- some of the world's finest supercars. That statement is true with or without the Lightweight Package. Forgo this option, and you won't miss a thing.