2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S First Test Review: Set Your World on Fire

The target: 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds. That’s the record and the bar by which all other production cars will be measured. Only two have ever accelerated to 60 mph so quickly, the 2017 Tesla Model S P100D and now, the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S we tested recently.

If you haven’t noticed, we don’t do ties at MotorTrend; every comparison has to have a winner. To find one, I asked road test editor Chris Walton to go to the electron microscope and scrutinize the results. Our 20-hertz Vbox GPS data logger measures a vehicle’s position 20 times per second to give us extremely accurate results, but we round to the nearest 10th of a second for our published results. This rarely causes an issue, but it matters in this case.

Direct from the data file, the new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S needs only 2.348666958 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standstill. The Tesla was infinitesimally quicker, needing just 2.275507139 seconds. Holster your calculator, that’s a difference of just 0.073159819 second. An actual blink of the eye takes 0.1 to 0.4 seconds, per Harvard Medical School.

It’s worth noting that although the Vbox gives data to the ninth decimal place, the company officially certifies the accuracy to 0.01 second. That puts the Tesla at 2.28 seconds and the Porsche at a 2.35-second time that rounds down.

Porsche vs. Tesla

Don’t think this means the Tesla will win a proper drag race, though. The Model S gets the holeshot, hitting 30 mph in 0.87 second to the Porsche’s 0.94, but it starts to lose steam at higher speeds. A 10.5-second quarter mile at 125.0 mph is ludicrously quick for a production car on street tires, but it’s not quick enough to beat a 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S at the test track. The Porsche might launch fractionally softer, but once it’s moving the 911 will run down the Tesla before the finish line with a 10.3-second quarter mile and a trap speed of 132.3 mph.

It’s worth dwelling on the spec chart a little longer here. The quickest production cars MotorTrend has ever tested are a 680-hp, 4,891-pound battery-electric sedan, and now a 640-hp, 3,628-pound twin-turbo six-cylinder coupe. Neither is the lightest in its class by a long shot nor are they even close to being the most powerful. Neither wore the world’s stickiest street tires: the Tesla rode on Michelin Pilot Super Sports, the 911 on Pirelli P Zeros. What these cars are, then, are two of the best-engineered and best-programmed, factory-built, all-wheel-drive, street-legal drag racers in America.

Of course, the 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S we tested does a lot more than drag race. Keep looking down the chart, and you’ll see it stops from 60 mph in 97 feet, which is supercar territory but not a record. Remember, that’s on plain old P Zeros, not Corsas or Trofeos, which makes its performance more impressive.

The skidpad and figure-eight tests tell the same story. Achieving 1.10 average lateral gs on the skidpad is a crazy number, as is a 22.5-second figure-eight lap at 0.96 average cumulative g. Those are both in the top 10 all-time, again on regular Pirelli P Zeros. Put this monster Porsche Turbo S on a racetrack such as WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and, despite its tires, it’ll put down a lap time within 0.7 second of a 711-hp Ferrari F8 Tributo.

(Nearly) Unmatched Performance

What this 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S is capable of when tested to its limits, objectively speaking, is nearly unmatched. And anyone who can come up with $204,850 can walk into a Porsche store today and buy one (technically, $211,380 including just the performance options on our test car).

Subjectively speaking, it’s nearly as superlative. On the road, the Turbo S is pure magic. The way it moves feels organic, like the way an athlete moves, or a wild animal. Drivers of every skill level are immediately comfortable driving way, way over the speed limit—and right to their, and the car’s, limits. Read that again. A car that comes within a hair of setting performance records across the board is also incredibly confidence-inspiring and easy to drive quickly, despite relying on a strong sports-car tire rather than a proper supercar tire.

The 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S does have a limit, though. Blame the tires, blame that Turbo genealogy, but for as much Porsche GT personality as it has on the street, the 911 Turbo S loses something on the track. It becomes a bit cold and clinical on a road course. Would a set of Trofeos or Pilot Sport Cup 2s fix that? We’d love to find out. Either way, this test proved it already nips at the heels of the mighty, previous-generation 911 GT2 RS. Give it real running shoes, Porsche, and let’s find out.

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