The criteria that define a hypercar are as clear as a glass of Metamucil. Is it a seven-digit price tag or a limited-production run necessary to secure the nomination? Or must it have seven Toyota Camrys’ worth of horsepower surrounded by a beautifully sculpted body that’s constructed of exotic materials to qualify? Perhaps a complex powertrain pairing electric motors and a manic internal-combustion engine? Or can the workaday Porsche 911 Turbo S be a hypercar without any of those things?
We’ve previously tested an identical Gentian Blue 911 Turbo S, and it became the quickest 911 that we’ve strapped our Racelogic test equipment to. This time around, the Turbo S was equipped with the $10,340 Lightweight package, which includes fixed carbon-fiber buckets (18-way seats are available at no additional cost), rear-seat delete, less sound deadening material, lightweight glass, and the PASM sport suspension with a 0.4-inch drop. As a result of that weight-loss regimen, this Turbo S tipped the scales at 3566 pounds, a substantial 80 lighter than the standard model and just 344 pounds more than the featherweight GT3.
You’ve read the fuss about the instant torque of electric motors, such as the Tesla Model S Plaid. But the 911 Turbo S is proof that internal combustion shouldn’t be trivialized. With the Sport drive mode selected (Sport Plus deploys the speed-robbing front splitter and rear wing) and launch control activated, a push of the Sport Response button brings the rpm up to 5000. Secure all loose items, then release the brake. The front tires spin as 30 mph arrives in 0.8 second. That’s right, zero-point-eight. In all our years of testing, no other car has ever been able to exceed school-zone speed limits quicker, including the 1020-hp Model S Plaid.
Stick with it, and the brilliant eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox snaps off two shifts before 60 mph flashes by in 2.1 seconds, matching the sprint of the near-million-dollar Porsche 918 Spyder and just a tenth slower than the 986-hp Ferrari SF90 Stradale. The quarter-mile acceleration also lives in the hypercar world. With the 640-hp twin-turbo 3.7-liter flat-six operating at full steam, the Turbo S hits the mark in 9.9 seconds at 139 mph, making it the lowest-horsepower car to break into the nines. It’s also 0.2 second quicker than the non-Lightweight Turbo S and 0.5 second ahead of the stunning $3.6 million Pagani Huayra Roadster BC.
It’s not just how the Turbo S turns its available horsepower into straight-line speed that nudges it into the hypercar realm, but how it drives. Ascending Angeles Crest Highway, outside of Los Angeles, consists of 66 miles of squiggles and switchbacks linked by short straights that the Turbo S evaporates. The hundreds of corners stack on each other like Las Vegas cards in a shoe, with the 16.5-inch carbon-ceramic front rotors and 10-piston calipers dealing more than enough braking power and durability than needed for the mountain road—stops from 70 mph require a tidy 139 feet and stopping from 100 mph takes 279 feet. The Turbo’s wide footprint slices through apexes with help from rear-axle steering that tucks the rear end in line in a seemingly magical way. And the Porsche-spec Pirelli P Zero PZ4s hang on all the way up to 1.12 g’s, an impressive amount of stick from non-track-focused tires.
Taking a breather from sawing at the wheel provides time to reflect on the climb up and over the San Gabriel Mountains. At the 7903-foot summit, the Turbo S’s twin altitude compensators keep the engine at full tilt, whereas the 911 GT3’s naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six would likely gasp for oxygen. And in the Turbo S with the rear seats removed and the sound insulation gutted, the barks and crackles from the Sport exhaust’s tailpipes reverberating throughout the cabin provide just as much aural intensity as the GT3. At wide-open throttle, we recorded a thundering 101 decibels, 10 decibels louder than the previous Turbo S we tested—that’s a lot.
We expected the firm ride of the Turbo S to be intensified by these seats, in which a thin layer of foam is all that separates the structure from tailbone. However, whether on Los Angeles’s network of highways or high up in the canyons, the stiff chassis tuning never proved offensive. And while initial ingress to the fixed-back buckets might resemble Simone Biles on the uneven bars, climbing in gets easier with practice, and the lateral support is worth the tradeoff.
At $215,190, a Turbo S with the Lightweight package isn’t cheap, but in the world of sub-10-second machines, it’s a relative bargain. With everyday usability, blistering speed, and exemplary handling, this Turbo S is a hypercar hiding in plain sight.
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