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911 Turbo as alpha as it gets

If Charles Darwin was formulating his theories on the evolution ofspecies today, he could easily include a chapter or two on the Porsche911 (flat-sixus rapidus).

If Charles Darwin was formulating his theories on the evolution of species today, he could easily include a chapter or two on the Porsche 911 (flat-sixus rapidus). Porsche’s iconic sports car has been around for 46 years — an eternity in automotive terms — yet its lineage can be traced back even further to a pre-war beetle (VW).

And so we come to the alpha 2010 911 Turbo — the seventh generation of this 911 sub-species that first smoked its rear tires in 1975. Not an all-new car, this is a major refresh of the 997-based Turbo that was launched in 2006.

The 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo goes on sale in Canada in January 2010 — $165,300 for the Coupe with the Cabriolet bowing at $178,400.

Visual upgrades for 2010 are subtle — the big changes lie beneath the skin.

The heart of the 2010 Turbo is an all-new dry sump 3.8L bi-turbo direct injection flat-six that makes 500 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque (up 20 hp and 22 lb.-ft. from last year’s 3.6L Turbo).

Along with the six-speed manual transmission, a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK sequential transmission is now available, replacing the previous car’s geriatric 5-speed Tiptronic S. Real paddle shifters are offered (thank you!) with an $840 sports steering wheel. As with all Porsche Turbos since 1995, the car is all-wheel drive.

Also new is Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system that applies brake intervention to the inside rear wheel when cornering to reduce understeer.

All Canadian cars are equipped with the Sport Chrono Package. This includes launch control, an aggressive transmission/throttle Sport Plus setting and a 10-second overboost function that bumps torque to a seismic 516 lb.-ft.

Forward thrust can be best described as laughably ridiculous. A Coupe fitted with the PDK transmission blasts to 100 km/h in an eyeball compressing 3.4 seconds (3.5 for the Cabriolet).

On the famed racetrack in Estoril, Portugal, the Turbo proved very easy to drive quickly, offering sensational grip, quick turn in, and great balance. It was happy to settle into a perfectly manageable four-wheel drift that was easily massaged with gentle throttle and steering inputs.

In light of the fact that few 911 Turbos will be used in this way, half of my seat time was spent in a red Cabriolet coursing the incredibly scenic Portuguese coastal and inland roads,
Yes, the ride is a bit stiff, even with the standard PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), but certainly not punishing. The $600 optional sport seats were tailored perfectly for my thin frame. The interior is finely crafted and functional (save for the flimsy fold out cup-holders) in a no-nonsense Germanic way.

What you don’t get with the Turbo is the classic flat-six song that comes from naturally aspirated Porsche engines. This blown version is considerably quieter, and when you hammer it, an angry whooosh comes from the tailpipes that sounds like a fire hose on full blast. Not pretty but certainly effective.

2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
Type: Sports coupe and cabriolet
Price: Coupe, $165,000; Cabriolet, $178,400
Engine: 3.8L bi-turbo direct injection
HP: 500

• Finely crafted, functional interior
• Quieter than other Porsches

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