Fast & Cool

Porsche 911 Turbo: Keys to Hill Country Heaven And Beyond

By Scott Black
Photography courtesy of Porsche

This year, the 911 achieved an impressive accomplishment that few ever reach. One of the most recognized models in the world, Porsche is celebrating the 50th anniversary of this iconic sports car.  With all focus on the 911’s birthday, some have overlooked the fact that the Turbo model is commemorating its 40th anniversary this year. To remind auto enthusiasts of this milestone, Porsche has introduced a new 500 horses and all-wheel drive version of this performance dynamo.

Porsche of San Antonio was gracious enough to introduce The Society Diaries to experience the wündercar. “While living in Germany as a teenager, I fell in love with Porsche,” says Douglas Cox, general sales manager at Porsche of San Antonio. “The latest evolution of their venerable 911 Turbo is such a leap forward that any other manufacturer would’ve given it an entirely new name. Every aspect of the car is so impressive that everyone who experiences it is smitten with automotive lust.”


The new generation 911 Turbo and Turbo S are at the performance peak of the series. “The Turbo and Turbo S represent the pinnacle of the 911 line,” adds Abigail Kampmann, general manager of the dealership. “It is an ultra-performance car, every day car and technology flagship all in one. I am as comfortable navigating downtown to the Rivercenter Mall as I am cruising high speed to a race at the Circuit of the Americas.”

Styling wise, the German juggernaut retains its heritage shape, but under the skin the car is as innovative as it is iconic. Improvements include a new all-wheel-drive system, active rear axle steering, adaptive aerodynamics, full-LED headlights, and up to 560 horsepower from a flat six-cylinder twin-turbocharged engine. The car has an entirely new lightweight chassis with a longer wheelbase and larger 20-inch wheels. The Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control active anti-roll system increases dynamic performance even more. This system is standard equipment in the 911 Turbo S, as is Sport Chrono Package Plus with dynamic engine mounts, and Porsche Carbon Ceramic Composite Brakes; all of these features are also available as options in the 911 Turbo.


The new engine and refined PDK transmission is connected to a new traction management all-wheel drive system. The turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection churns out 520 hp in the 911 Turbo and 560 hp in the S model.

“Porsche continues to be the only carmaker to offer two turbochargers with variable turbine geometry on a gasoline engine,” explains Cox. “Power transfers to the drivetrain via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, with an auto start/stop function to save fuel. And to make the drive even more engaging, Porsche pipes some of the engine sounds into the cabin.” 


A lot of horsepower is meaningless if it cannot be transferred to the pavement. Porsche developed a new electronically controlled all-wheel drive system that puts every pony to work. The optimization of the engine, transmission and all-wheel drive results in wicked fast acceleration. The 911 Turbo with the optional Sport Chrono Package Plus accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds on the way to 196 mph. The 911 Turbo S can sprint to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, with a top track speed of 198 mph.


One of the complaints about AWD systems is that they can feel sluggish while corning. Porsche tackled that problem by introducing a rear wheel steering system in all turbo models. This immensely improves both track driving capability and everyday performance. “The system consists of two electro-mechanical actuators, instead of the conventional control links, on the left and right rear axles,” comments Cox. “The steering angle of the rear wheels can be varied depending on vehicle speed.”

At speeds up to 31 mph, when the front wheels are turned, the system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction. This actually corresponds to a virtual shortening of the wheelbase, which gives the 911 Turbo unrivalled performance in hill country curves. The car turns faster into corners and feels more dynamic. And in town, it is noticeably simpler to maneuver and park. At speeds above 50 mph, the system steers the rear wheels parallel to the front wheels. This is equivalent to a virtual lengthening of the wheelbase and gives the car tremendous directional control capability. For the driver, the steering responds with lightening fast speeds.


Porsche continues to refine and evolve the same pure sports car shape that has made the 911 so recognizable. Visually, the Turbo variants are set apart from other models more than ever. The rear body panels of the new generation 911 Turbo are wider than on the 911 Carrera 4. The Turbo S is further differentiated by new, standard full-LED headlights that feature daytime running lights and camera-based high/low beam control.


Mechanical brilliance is but one way to move a car and aerodynamics are equally important. Porsche developed an active aerodynamic system on the new 911 Turbo models for the first time. It consists of a retractable three-stage front spoiler, whose segments can be pneumatically extended, and a deployable rear wing with three adjustable wing positions. Thus a driver can tune the aerodynamics of the 911 Turbo for either efficiency or top performance. In the performance position, all segments of the front spoiler are fully extended, and they generate considerable down force at the front axle. Similarly, the rear wing is extended to its maximum height with the greatest angle of attack. This also generates more down force at the rear axle.


The interior was completely redesigned in both 911 Turbo models. The S model is particularly well equipped with features such as Sport Seats Plus with 18-way adjustment and memory. In addition, the seat back shells are upholstered in leather with double cap seams and various elements in carbon look. A Bose® sound system is standard with a Burmester® system available as an option. A radar-controlled cruise control system, camera-based road sign recognition and speed limit recognition are other new options.


An all-new car inevitably begs the question– does the Turbo still feel like a Porsche? Absolutely. What is it like to drive? Sublime. Even though it was bred and born far from the Texas hill country, the 911 Turbo seems as if it was designed with San Antonio in mind. From its stunning power and speed to remarkable docility in traffic, it’s hard to imagine a sweeter sports car to cruise the River City, as well as our region and beyond.

Nimble, solid and breathtakingly fast, it feels as though the car can break the laws of physics. It is as if your hands are wrapped around Thor’s hammer instead of a steering wheel. The world simply trundles along, watching this “chariot of the gods” pass with ease. This is no mere mortal’s car.  You’ll see. It’s a great way to celebrate 40 years of the model.

The new top models of the 911 series are beginning to trickle into the United States. The 911 Turbo is priced from $148,300 while the 911 Turbo S begins at $181,100, not including a destination charge.