Telepathy in a car doesn't exist…yet. We're not getting driven to work by autonomous cars, we're not being guided through traffic while reclined and listening to Howard Stern, we can't read the Times from behind the wheel. We still drive and, thankfully, we're still able to drive. Porsche however, allows us the best of both worlds with their new 911 Turbo S Cabriolet.
Driving this beast is a mix between getting what you want without thinking and getting what you need when the time comes. The Turbo does a lot right automatically through brilliant German engineering. Shifting gears, for instance, is done effortlessly, without notice, and at the exact time you need (read: would want) it to be done if you were manually rowing your own.
The 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission (the only transmission option) is a perfect gearbox when combined with the 560 horsepower 3.8L twin-turbo 6-cylinder that's stuffed in the rear. Not only will the Porsche do 0-60 mph in (a conservative) 3.0 seconds, on the highway it will troll along in seventh gear and get 24mpg of sippy-cup efficiency, while also unconsciously speeding up and slowing down in traffic using Porsche's excellent Adaptive Cruise Control.
But this car isn't about efficiency. (Seriously though, what Porsche really is?) This 911 is about being dumb fast in a straight line and incredibly stable in the corners. Porsches have been known for their rear to step out of line in corners if you happen to release the throttle during spirited driving, but those wily Germans have eliminated any notion of that with their newest AWD version. The 4-wheel steering helps put 553 lb.-ft of torque down to the pavement in turns, plus active aerodynamics—three stages of front and rear spoiler retraction that allow better stability at high speeds—and absolutely massive 15-inch carbon ceramic brakes all around will save you and suck your brain through your orbital bones in the process. One of the most exhilarating experiences is using launch control (which can be replicated to your heart's content so easily it's laughable), and then stomping on the brakes. Whether doing that from 75 or 150, the choice is yours.
The Turbo S does many things right, and some things brilliantly. And, with the convertible version, you can do 99.9% of what the coupe can do, but with the top down and sun shining in a luxuriously fitted cabin befitting a car in this price range. Five years ago, a Panamera-inspired interior on the inside of a Porsche 911 Turbo would have seemed as crack-headed as Donald Sterling saying he's not a racist, but it works. Every switch, knob, and lever is in what seems like a predetermined place, and once you figure out the orientation, it's easier than dunking an Oreo in milk.
While we need to say something now about how it can't be this good, we won't. But what we will say is that there are some things that could be considered faults. The sheer number of 911s (16 variants) can make the Turbo a bit ambiguous from model to model, and for $100k less you can grab a Carrera S or Carrera 4S (though with a Mazda Miata's worth of less power). And, well, we would be happy if there were a manual option—it just seems right in a Porsche, no?
Cost: $193,900 (base)/ $210,620 (as tested)
Horsepower: 560 horsepower @ 6,500-6,750 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 2,200-4,000 rpm
0-60 MPH: 3.0 seconds
Top Speed: 197 mph
Efficiency: 17/24/20 mpg (city/highway/combined)
Photograph by Tony Harmer