I may have grown up around one of the earliest 911s in existence, but the first time I got behind the wheel of a Porsche, any Porsche, was when I was 19. It was a sinister black 1985 911 Turbo that was less than a year old. This was the car that struck fear into the hearts of Buick Grand National owners. One of the first cars to touch the 4 second zero to sixty. It was black on black, with the requisite fat fenders and whale tail. Every bit as extravagant as the decade it was born into.
That black beast spent a weekend with a buddy and I, a debauched weekend filled with sex, drugs, booze and stop light battles. It was the first time that I had seen the high side of 160 MPH. A chance meeting with an equally sinister looking black Buick on an empty street in Hamilton on Sunday morning gave me the opportunity to see if Zuffenhausen’s weapon could slay the quickest America had to offer. The Porker did not let me down.
It was not until the drive home that I learned that the borrowed car was not exactly borrowed, rather it had been liberated for the weekend. I shudder to think how different my life would be if I had been pulled over at nearly triple the double nickle in the unlawfully obtained turbo. Needless to say, that machine solidified the Porsche brand’s mystique in my young brain.
Fast forward close to three decades and unlike the Grand National (and all of the other super-fast machines of the time) the 911 Turbo is still on the market and still causing heart palpitations among car enthusiasts.
My tester this week, a 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet that was obtained through the proper channels of course, is a staggering collection of numbers. Top speed: 318 km/h. Zero to 100 km/h: 3.2 seconds. 560 horsepower. $228,000.
Despite the years between the two cars and despite the inflation of dimensions, horsepower, performance and price, the first and most important thing to note is that the 991 generation is instantly recognizable as a 911, and not just to enthusiasts. One of the things that 911 owners love about their cars is that they don’t really stand out from the crowd in traffic in the way a Ferrari or Lamborghini do. Few of my test cars in recent months have generated so much interest and commentary from the general public. The Turbo S Cab is elegant but everything from the 20″ centre lock wheels to the rear spoiler and deep side air inlets screams “built for speed”.
As a big guy with a bad back, I have to admit that I have a hell of a time getting in to the car with the top up. With the top down, I am able to ease into the snug cabin somewhat more easily and the driver’s perch offers more than enough adjustment options to account for my belly, short legs and long torso. The power roof operates quickly enough to allow for open air driving in between rain showers if one is so inclined. The one change I would love to see is for the ability to open the roof from the keyless remote. Oh, and steering wheel mounted volume controls would be nice too.
The 911 has always come with a tiny back seat and in the spirit of 2+2 motoring, I made a point of putting it to the test. The two teenage hockey players we stuffed in the back loved it, but somehow I think their joy may have subsided a bit if we had traveled more than a few blocks.
Not surprisingly, the attention to detail inside the car is second to none. This particular car had been outfitted with red leather in a shade that could best be described as bordello crimson that offset the brushed metal and carbon fibre perfectly.
Out on the road, the 911 Turbo behaves like the most suave 19th century vampire one could imagine. With the PDK shifter in the D position, the car is silky smooth, charming those on board as well as onlookers. The machine actually feels a bit heavy at slower speeds with light throttle. Press the Sport Plus button and switch to manual shift and the car’s predatory nature kicks in.
Activating Sport Plus makes several changes to both suspension and steering settings. Engine mapping is also changed to allow for an extra bit of boost which brings the flat-6’s torque up to a whopping great 553 lb.-ft. The tuxedo clad dandy slinks down and alley and returns with fangs bared and looking for blood.
My week with the Turbo S Cab did not include any track time, so my attempts to let the beast feed were limited to the occasional first and second gear blast. Even those quick squirts are nothing short of exhilarating. I haven’t tested the launch control in an attempt to recreate the 3.2 second run, because quite frankly my back can’t take the violence of the Sport Plus up-shifts. I have no doubt that the number is valid.
If that ’85 911 Turbo was indeed all sex, drugs and rock & roll, where does that leave the current model? Think of it as a centuries old lady killer, elegant and graceful on the surface but rippling with aggression beneath. Vicious.