There is something to be said about a company that emphasizes their design philosophy as ‘evolutionary, not revolutionary.’ Since its inception in 1963, Porsche has changed very little with their flagship, the 911 sports car. Absurd in concept and rigidly unchanging despite growing and improving competition, the 911 seems doomed for the dark ages unless something changes, right?
This 2012 Porsche 997 Turbo S is a car that defies every bit of logic and reasoning we learned as a child. It has 530 angry, snarling, twin-turbocharged horsepower that can temporarily increase boost by 0.2 bar for hellacious bursts of acceleration. If you haven’t been lucky enough to experience the first 30 seconds of free-fall the first time you went sky diving, it’s kinda like that. In the Cabriolet I tested, Porsche claims a 0-60 run of a mesmerizing 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 195mph. These numbers are assisted by an electronically-controlled all-wheel-drive system that sends most of the engine’s power…uh….’downward’ to the rear wheels under normal driving. Combined with launch control and Porsche’s brilliant 7-speed PDK transmission, the all-out acceleration runs are downright violent. Let’s just say that on my first try, I nailed 2.6 seconds to 60 and, by the time my eyeballs retracted to a normal position, I was cruising well over 100. The exhaust note can be intoxicating too, especially when heard from the Cabriolet’s open quarters; imagine a Learjet getting into a dueling brawl with a Dyson in a room full of angry blenders, and you get the idea. Ladies and gentlemen, this vehicle is proof of why God invented concealed-unit radar detectors and adult diapers, both of which should be listed in the owner’s manual as required accessories.
Power is only one part of the package on this uber-machine, which boasts some of the best handling and braking characteristics in the world. Braking is accomplished by the extremely effective PCCBs, or ‘Porsche Carbon Ceramic Braking’ system. Six-piston brake calipers up front and 4-piston calipers in the rear squeeze high-performance pads onto slotted carbon rotors the size of the Jolly Green Giant’s dinner plate. When it’s time to grab the binders, this all equates to a 60-0 stopping distance of under 100 feet and a pedal feel that can only be described as “magical.” All that braking perfection doesn’t come cheap though; break, bend or warp a rotor and one of those puppies will set you back almost $3,500. Ouch.
Handling and steering response are near- telepathic, accomplished by PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) and massive 305-width tires in the rear. Not having the weight of the engine over the front wheels works a miracle for directional stability and on-center steering feel as well. Porsche also uses something called ‘dynamic engine mounts’ to counter engine sway in the rear end during hard cornering. Remember that fancy ‘magneto-rheological’ fluid your friend bragged about in his Corvette’s suspension? This baby has it in its engine mounts and yes, you really can feel it working.
The true beauty of the 997 Turbo S Cabriolet, though, is day-to-day drivability. As it is with most 911s produced since the 1960s, you can still fit two full-size adults in the front and two double-amputees or small house pets in the back. All joking aside, Porsche does make a solid point to tell you that they manufacture three different child seats that are specifically designed to fit in the rear quarters of both coupes and cabriolets. The luggage compartment under the front bonnet, all things considered, is spacious. The roof of the Turbo S Coupe even has attachment points for a roof transport system, though I’d double-dare anyone to put their precious skis up there: gravity during acceleration runs wasn’t kind to the contents of my pockets, and I’d only assume it’d be just as rude to your snow sticks.
To sum it all up, if there is one car in this world that I could own and drive every day, the 997 Turbo S would be it. So what if your friends get more looks in their fancy Gallardos, 458s, R8s and Vipers? None of those cars can fit your trophy wife, two shih-tzus and a weekend’s worth of suit cases and shopping bags inside. Plus, nothing in my opinion compares to the acceleration, handling and day-to-day drivability this masterpiece provides. When it comes down to the red-and-blues flashing in your rearview mirror, remember too that this one is far less flashy and, as such, seems to fly under the radar largely unnoticed.
The Porsche 997 Turbo S; I’ll take mine in Basalt Black with the two-tone cream and beige interior and matching ‘Junior Plus’ car seat. Take that, practicality.