Porsche was among the first manufacturers to embrace turbochargers both in racing and on the street, and even today their turbocharged version of the 911 is still one of the cars to beat in the forced induction game. Porsche also takes its heritage very seriously, so they have taken the opportunity to join in the 40th anniversary celebrations for the 911 and unveil a new 911 Turbo.
With the cheaper and usually quicker Nissan GT-R stealing quite a bit of its thunder over the last few years, the 911 Turbo needed an upgrade. Fortunately for Porsche, big improvements are something they do best. The 3.8 liter twin-turbo flat-six now makes 520 horsepower in the standard version and a whopping 560 in the Turbo S. Zero to sixty, meanwhile, takes 3.2 seconds and a few blinks of the eye at 2.9 seconds for the S, while each tops out at just shy of 200 miles per hour. As for the now obligatory lap times at the Nurburgring, Porsche are claiming that the S version will do it in under seven and a half minutes, dangerously close to the new GT-R's time of 7:18. And like the GT-R, the 911 is just as much about advanced technology and clever engineering as it is about raw power. The turbochargers are variable-geometry turbos (VGT's) for smoother power delivery and, speaking of power, it is all managed by Porsche's PDK seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. This is the only available transmission for the 911 Turbo and, although Porsche usually has a very good reason for each decision they make, this is one that's likely to have enthusiasts everywhere and indeed many traditional Porsche fans howling. Porsche has been among the last of the high-performance manufacturers to stick with the tried and true manual stick shift, but now it looks like their heading the way of Ferrari and others on the transmission front. It's sad, but it's the way of the future.
There is a new all-wheel-drive system as well that is electronically controlled and water-cooled, while at the back Porsche has put in an interesting electromechanical rear axle steering system not unlike the one Honda put into the Prelude a few years back. It allows for up to 2.8 degrees of steering from the rear wheels. Until 31 miles per hour, the system cocks the rear wheels in the opposite direction of the front wheels, while above 50 miles per hour it steers them parallel to the fronts. It's all supposed to make cornering more dynamic and parking more of a breeze, so it really seems like a win-win.
In the styling department, Porsche predictably hasn't made any big changes for its 2014 lineup, but the 911 Turbo certainly does look the part, as it should. It has aggressive bodywork that is over an inch wider than the normally aspirated car, scoops and bulges in all the right places, and rides on 20-inch aluminum wheels as standard. Of course, this potent status symbol doesn't come cheap. The standard Turbo will cost $150,000 ($182,000 for the Turbo S), but it is a legendary top-shelf sports car that won't fall apart or depreciate like crazy. On one last note, a new thermal management system along with a start/stop setup supposedly make for impressive fuel economy, but saving Mother Earth and some pennies at the pump isn't why you buy one of these cars. You buy it because of the name: Porsche 911 Turbo.