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2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S comes second at MOTOR's 2021 PCOTY

By Scott Newman, 11 Mar 2021 Performance COTY

2021 MOTOR PCOTY 2nd place Porsche 911 Turbo S

Technically brilliant, but is there a spark missing?

The 992-series Porsche 911 Turbo S is the fastest machine ever to grace PCOTY. And it’s not even close.

We’ve had some fast cars over the years – the Nismo GT-R, Ferrari 488 GTB, the previous PCOTY-winning 911 Turbo S – but the performance figures of Porsche’s latest rocket aren’t just in a different league, they’re in a different division.

For example, when we tested the 488 a few years back, it recorded 0-200km/h in 9.6sec; the Porsche completed the same journey in 8.46sec. Personally, I have never driven a car that accumulates speed like the Turbo. The eight-speed PDK, all-wheel drive and its inherent stability means there are no histrionics, it just seems to skip every second 10km/h increment – it is a licence loser extraordinaire. Nor is it without theatre.

A heavily turbocharged flat-six is never going to win The Voice but it growls and exhales and pops. The power delivery is set up to deliver a massive wallop of mid-range torque that pins you to your seat. Yet it never feels unruly.

The all-wheel-drive system offers brilliant traction yet still entertains, somehow knowing exactly when you want to dial in some opposite lock – or, on a track, drive on the lock stops. It’ll happily step out on a trailed brake – a little or a lot, depending on your aggression – yet catching it is no great drama. More than one driver commented that they felt superhuman behind the wheel of the Turbo S; it’s the automotive equivalent of putting on Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit.

READ NEXT: Every car to have ever won MOTOR's Performance Car of the Year

This excellence is the result of painstaking engineering, hours and hours spent refining steering response and brake feel to the point that they don’t require a second thought.

Then there’s the fact that this berserk performance comes in a car with heated and ventilated leather seats, a cracking stereo (helpful in drowning out road noise), a firm but compliant ride and all the latest connectivity via the central infotainment screen. It feels beautifully built, too, and is completely undemanding to drive in daily circumstances, even compared to the affable R8 V10 Performance.

Given this uncontrollable gushing, why does the Turbo S sit on the second step of the podium rather than the first? Essentially it comes down to value. On the one hand, if you want a faster all-weather missile than this you’ll need to stump up around a million dollars for a Ferrari SF90 Stradale, or maybe $5m for a Bugatti Chiron.

On the other, however, the case for the latest Turbo S is undone by the excellence of more basic 911 models. There is a degree of irrelevance to that comment; 911 Turbo buyers want a 911 Turbo and they won’t be in the least bit disappointed this time around. However, when it came to assess the Turbo S at the end of PCOTY week, while in awe of its ability, the question remained: at any point on road or track would I have enjoyed the (almost $200,000 cheaper) Carrera 4S any less? The answer is no.

In fact, in some instances, less is more. The sledgehammer torque hit of the Turbo is almost unnerving in its violence, but the linear escalation of the Carrera’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo unit is a more pleasant experience. Apart from its loaded equipment levels, there is also nothing to separate the Turbo S’s interior from its cheaper siblings.

While that means there’s absolute nothing wrong with its cabin, for almost half-a-million dollars should there be a little more differentiation? Of course, these have been questions asked of 911 Turbos for the past few decades, but it’s always been able to answer them with outrageously superior performance.

This remains the case, but when a Carrera 4S is capable of 0-100km/h in 3.4sec and an 11.4sec quarter mile, there is an element of diminishing returns at play. PCOTY isn’t necessarily the place for philosophical arguments, but this desire for more power and more performance has also resulted in a 911 Turbo that’s now a fairly large car, weighs 1640kg before fuel and occupants and has a terrifying thirst when driven hard.

None of this should take away from the brilliance of the latest Turbo S. It’s an almost peerless engineering achievement and phenomenal to drive in all circumstances, but when you’re asking stratospheric money there should be an easy justification for that price tag. Our winner - the Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro - offers that, the Turbo S does not. – SN

WATTS THE GO?

Would the 992 Turbo S have still carried off the acceleration crown at PCOTY ‘21 had Porsche been able to supply a Taycan Turbo S in time? It certainly sparks an interesting debate. Porsche claims 2.7s for the 911 to 100km/h and 2.8s for the top Taycan.

We comfortably beat the factory claim in the 911 and MotorTrend have timed a Taycan Turbo S to 60mph (97km/h) in 2.4s: that’s less than eight car lengths. Sounds like a drag race waiting to happen...

THE NUMBERS

0-100km/h: 2.58 sec
0-400km/h: 10.28 sec @ 217.32km/h
Lap Time: 1:30.1

JUDGE'S RANK

Butler 2ND
The most expensive car here, but the rush is worth every penny

Cordony 2ND
Insert acclamation here. So. Bloody. Fast. A bit short on theatre, though

Dupriez 2ND
As the fat luxo 911, the Turbo S’s dynamic competency and driving purity never fails to surprise. Oh so very close…

Enright 3RD
Sledgehammer punch aside, is there a whole lot here that the more tactile 992 Carrera can’t offer for half the price?

Newman =4th
A stunning engineering achievement, but a Carrera is a more enjoyable drive