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2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S first drive: Quick, fast and then some

by Nadia Reiner (2020-07-18)

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I spend a lot of time pedantically arguing about the difference between "fast" and "quick." Many people use these words interchangeably, and if you're one of them, well, you're wrong. To properly illustrate this disparity, let me introduce you to the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S -- a car that is very, very fast and very, very quick.

"Fast" refers to velocity. "Quick" is how long it takes to get there. This Turbo S defines both in superlative fashion. The newest member of the 992-generation Porsche 911, this model has a top speed of 205 mph and takes just 2.6 seconds to hit 60 mph.

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The Turbo S comes standard with a staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheel setup.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Numbers don't properly convey the experience. Launching the 911 Turbo S is the best kind of brutal -- you don't even have to get halfway into the throttle to unleash more force than you can reasonably use on a highway onramp. Want to make that yellow light? Just flex your big toe. Under full-throttle launch, the 911 Turbo S is quicker than other, more exotic-looking supercars such as the Ferrari 488 Pista, Lamborghini Aventador SVJ and McLaren 720S, and the experience of putting the hammer down from a standstill is simply intoxicating.

There are only a few places in the world where you can realistically exploit a 205-mph top speed, but this incredible v-max isn't why I call the Turbo S fast. Instead, Tour Quế Lâm từ Hà Nội it's seeing a sign suggesting 30 mph for a turn but being able to confidently take it at 70. It's arriving at the next corner before your brain's had time to process how fast you went through the previous one. It's blasting through a long stretch of back-and-forth esses and needing to pull over so you can catch your breath.

Major kudos obviously goes to the engine. Porsche's 3.8-liter, twin-turbo flat-6 produces 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, increases of 60 hp and 37 lb-ft over the 991.2 Turbo S. A new cooling system filters in air from the side vents ahead of the rear wheels as well as the inlets below the back window, and the result is decreased turbo lag. Power goes to all four wheels through Porsche's eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, and a modified rear axle ratio and reinforced clutches help the gearbox manage that immense thrust. Porsche says the Turbo S will hit its 205-mph top speed in sixth gear -- seventh and eighth are merely two overdrive ratios. That should make highway fuel economy less abysmal, I guess, though I'm not sure anyone really cares about such a thing in a 640-hp 911.

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2021 Porsche 911 Turbo SEnlarge Image
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Fast driving in the Turbo S means seeing a sign suggesting 30 mph for Quế Lâm a turn that you end up confidently taking at 70.

The turbo engine might take center stage, but the chassis and aerodynamics are important supporting players. Porsche's Active Suspension Management (PASM) tech scans the road 200 times per second and adapts damping rates on the fly. You can also opt for a PASM Sport setup, like the one on this GT Silver test car, which lowers the ride height by 10 millimeters and works with Porsche's Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) for active body roll mitigation. The 911 Turbo S rides on staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear centerlock-design wheels, which are killer, and those 12-inch-wide rear alloys are wrapped in meaty 315/30-series Pirelli P-Zero summer tires. All it takes is one look at those wide rear hips to know this 911 means business.

Then there's the active aero, which is important for high-speed stability. The front lip, air intake flaps and rear spoiler all adjust depending on speed and drive mode, and the huge wing out back can act as an airbrake to help keep the rear end planted when slowing down. The Turbo S also comes with massive carbon-ceramic composite brakes, with 10-piston front calipers clamping down on 16.5-inch rotors. Considering the tremendous speeds the Turbo S is capable of reaching, having powerful stoppers like this is a must.

In the canyons north of Los Angeles, it all comes together flawlessly. The Turbo S attacks corners with a level of composure that rivals the 911 GT3, thanks partially to the standard rear-axle steering and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. But in the Turbo S, I'm actually going faster. There's no body roll. I'm not even worried about losing grip. The steering is Porsche-perfect. The Turbo S genuinely feels unstoppable, and I know I'm not even close to reaching its limits.