The famed car name meets the need for speed

Some might say that Porsche is the traditionalist among manufacturers because the 911 has been around since the 1960s with the same general shape. But that is like saying that, since the personal computer has looked pretty much the same over the years, nothing much has changed in computer performance or features.

The latest rendition of the 911 Turbo has the same badge as the first one built in 1974, but little else remains. Yes, it is still rear-engined. And yes, it still has a turbo. But gone is the old air-cooled powerplant, and substituted is a water-cooled twin-turbo unit developing a stout, to say the least, 480 horsepower from a rather small 3.6-liter, 6-cylinder block. And besides the standard six-speed stick shift, an automatic Tiptronic five-speed is available.

Over the years, the Turbo’s styling de-emphasized the large spoiler on the rear end, but has definitely bulked up on the side of the body. This latest version has had a steroid treatment around the rear wheels to accommodate inlets for the airflow to the radiator, and to enclose the 305/30 19-inch rear tires. On the spoiler arena, this year’s Turbo has a smaller two-for-one airfoil. At speed or with a push of a dash button, a separate wing detaches from the bottom one to hold the rear end down.

And, oh, is there speed when needed. Around town with the six-speed stick driven in a conservative manner, everything is quite normal to downright economical. In a Kailua-to-downtown commute, the mileage reading was 21 miles per gallon. The engine sound is muted even when a little thrust is called for. But give some real throttle in any gear and this car is frighteningly speedy – it simply takes your breath away. Zero-to-sixty time is 3.8 seconds.

With its massive tires and taut suspension, every corner can be handled, and with all-wheel drive, traction is glue-like. And there is no buckboard ride … it’s tight, but relatively absorbing of even a drive over our worst potholed streets.

As to be expected, this 911 has the traditional Porsche interior layout. The ignition key is on the dash to the left of the steering wheel, with the tach sitting squarely behind the steering wheel. With this rendition of the Turbo, nearly every luxury feature is either standard or available.

The optional power adaptive sports seats are fully adjustable, including the back and bottom side bolsters. The center console has a large video display to handle navigation, stereo and other functions. Automatic dual climate controls take care of the comfort level.

This time around the convertible styling generally maintains the design and slope of the coupe’s roofline. Multiple linings of the soft top give the cabin a serene feeling at any speed.

But one does not buy a Cabriolet to admire the top-up look. With a simple push of a button up to 30 mph, the top simply, in a matter of seconds, disappears or reappears as desired.

Unlike some sports cars, this Porsche is easy to get into and has plenty of up-front room for full-sized adults. Behind the front seats are two very small jump seats for very little kids or for storage. And carrying capacity is needed since the up-front trunk is small.

So for the urban warrior who wants lightning speed and good looks without undue compromises, the Turbo could be the answer. After all, power with beauty does count.

Porsche 911 Turbo

Engine: 480 hp, 3.6 liter, 6 cylinder
Acceleration: 0-60: 3.8 seconds
Braking: 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS, optional ceramic brake discs
Sound system: Bose sound system with 13 speakers with a noise compensation system