In creating the 911 Turbo S, Porsche has inadvertently turned the regular 911 Turbo into some kind of Turbo Shitty.
Porsche is the master of performance car marketing. Their RS models charge people more money for Porsche to offer less equipment, and this qualifies as genius as far as I'm concerned. I have no doubt Porsche is set to make a boatload off of 'S' versions of their already extreme Turbo models.
This makes sense. The richest of the rich simply can't pay enough for the most expensive cars today, and the number of tuners shows that there's room above Porsche's normal Turbo lineup.
But there's a problem with this, and it goes back to the original Turbo.
When Porsche started selling the official 911 Turbo back in 1975, it was as powerful and as high tech a car Porsche was willing to sell to the public. Its turbo tech, derived from their work in Can-Am and Le Mans was so groundbreaking that Porsche had to put it in the car's name. The car was such a handful that people started calling it the Widowmaker.
Porsche wisely realized it's a better market proposition to sell people on the idea of a car that can kill you, rather than actually killing off their customers, so the following Turbo models were a bit toned down in the psycho handling department, despite getting turned up in the outright speed department.
In 1992, Porsche introduced the Turbo S as a package and in 1997, Porsche put out the Turbo S (pictured below) as a model in much the same mold as the current Turbo S. More boost, more power, more wing, more carbon fiber, more expensive. It was an extreme model of an already extreme car and only 183 cars were sold, as RM Auctions reports.
Let me explain where this business model has gone wrong, if only ideologically and probably not in terms of sales.
Yesterday I got to ride in a brand new 991-model Turbo S. Now, most great fast cars sing their performance. They cast it like a spell and you appreciate it as a deliberate work of creation. In the Turbo S there is only VELOCITY. And that VELOCITY is INJECTED STRAIGHT INTO YOUR EYEBALLS. I swear the edge of your vision gets blurry and the world goes into hyperspace mode when the gas pedal goes to the floor.
It is at this point when I will list exactly what you get with the Turbo S over the Turbo: center lug wheels, LED lights, carbon ceramic brakes, sport chrono with overboost function as standard (!!) and 40 more horsepower as well as 29 more pound feet of torque. Top speed goes up two miles an hour and Porsche's claimed 0-60 time drops 0.3 seconds.
So, it's a hell of a car, but it's also comfortable. It's quiet. Inside, it feels exactly the same as a regular 911. There's a bit of a vacuum cleaner noise covering up the engine note, but otherwise there's nothing but the speed to tell you that you're not in an ordinary 911, let alone a Turbo.
And this leaves the Turbo with a problem. You see, most limited edition extra-extra high performance models make sense, because not everyone would want to make the sacrifices required for their speed. Take, for instance, the beloved old Mercedes CLK AMG Black. Most people buying CLK AMGs just wanted something with a big engine, good looks, and a three-pointed star in the grille. These typical AMG buyers would not want a big front splitter, a crude rear wing, giant fender bulges, and a bone-crushing ride that makes the CLK Black's performance possible. It made sense to separate the AMG from the AMG Black levels.
The Turbo S, though, is just a really fast Turbo. As far as my comfy ass could tell, a Turbo S buyer makes absolutely no sacrifices for its performance edge over the Turbo other than the hit to the wallet.
And this means that there is now no good reason to buy a Turbo rather than a Turbo S, as one CLK AMG buyer might choose to buy his lower-spec car compared to the CLK AMG Black. The two Turbo models are so similar that buying an S is just telling the world that you can afford the faster version of the faster car.
So the problem is that the S isn't really a faster, more compromised version of the Turbo; the regular turbo is just a slower version of the Turbo S. Thanks to the Turbo S, there is no distinct reason for the regular Turbo to exist other than as a budget version of its 'S' big brother. The Turbo is now a $151,100 budget car compared to the $182,700 S. I do love the absurdity of Porsche's model lineup.
Put another way, this Turbo vs Turbo S similarity means that everyone buying a Turbo is just telling the world 'I only bought this Turbo because I can't afford a Turbo S.' It means that the Turbo S becomes, in effect, a regular Turbo and the regular Turbo becomes a Turbo Slower. A Turbo Shitty.
So in making a grab for cash with a comfy, ordinary, but faster Turbo S, Porsche has basically compromised the image of their regular bread-and-butter Turbo.
At least, that's my ideological take. Don't bet on my opinion. The rich will keep buying up Turbos and dreaming of Turbo Ss, Porsche will still pull in the biggest profit margin per car in the industry, and the accountants at Zuffenhausen will still send healthy reports up to their superiors.
But when Porsche decides they need to have an extreme 'S' version of their 'S' version of their Turbo, you'll know where the downward spiral started.
Photo Credit: Porsche