Perhaps the best, the most appealing, the most telling view of the 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo is from behind. From there the view is low and wide and powerful.
And, of course, the view from behind the all-wheel-drive 911 Turbo is a common one for the rest of the world - the world not inside this 500 horsepower super sports car. With its twin turbos blowing out 500 horsepower, a 0-100 km/h time of 3.2 seconds and Ceramic Composite Brakes the size of garbage can lids (and optional at $12,050), this is a serious high-performance machine.
The price says it all. The base on my tester is $165,300, but the final car came in at $192,585, including freight. For that kind of money, a real buyer wants not only a ride that carves apexes and flies down straights, but also makes sense for a Saturday night out with the significant other.
This is what separates Porsche in general terms from all its rivals. The cars are fast and handle beautifully, but they do not punish you in stop-and-go traffic. In particular, the 911 Turbo is arguably the ultimate everyday supercar.
In meandering drives through and around the city, what comes through are such things as seat comfort (firm but not painful), suspension tuning (firm but not painful), PDK transmission programming (nice, clean shifts under modest throttle) and an updated navigation (with an easy-to-manage touch screen).
Sure, you can go like lightning in a Nissan GT-R, and spend less than half the money ($98,900 base) in doing so. But this is a brittle ride at school-zone speeds. You cannot live with the GT-R on a day-to-day basis.
Or what about the Lamborghini Gallardo ($260,000)? Loud and flamboyant. If you want to be noticed, fill your boots. The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 ($128,515) is a 638-horsepower brute, but like the Lambo, it's loud and flamboyant.
Only the Audi R8 5.2 FSI stands out as a completely well-rounded supercar on par with the 911 Turbo. The Audi is the audacious newcomer, while the Porsche is tried and true - though updated for 2010.
You guessed it: the 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo is more of everything: more comfortable, more powerful, more capable, more fuel-efficient and only a little more expensive. The perfect storm of fast-car joy.
At the heart of it all is the Turbo's powerplant. Sit down before I tell you this. Okay? Seated? It makes an astounding 132 horsepower with each litre of displacement, or 83.3 hp per cylinder. GULP!
Each cylinder is slightly smaller than the size of a typical 750 ml bottle of wine and yet the flat six-pack makes 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. This engine is based on the recently released 3.8-litre flat-six in the 2009 911 Carrera S.
Here, the twin-turbocharged six-cylinder is essentially a brand-new unit from the bottom up. While variable turbine geometry (VTG) debuted on the 997-I Turbo (2006-'09), the new 997-II Turbo's closed-deck block now features direct fuel injection (DFI), first used on the V8-powered 2008 Cayenne (I know, I know, all this sounds like a deep dive into the worst kind of automotive geek-speak, but we've got to document these things).
If you know high-horsepower cars, you'll also be happy to read that the Turbo engine uses an integrated dry-sump oil lubrication system with six oil-scavenge pumps. This system keeps the engine lubricated even if you're pulling major Gs on a race track and we first saw it on the water-cooled 911s in 1999. But never on the 911 Turbo, until now.
Oh, and the expansion intake manifold that effectively cools the air before it enters the turbochargers (cold air equals more performance) appeared on the mega-turbocharged 530-hp 2008 911 GT2. Wipe that drool from your enthusiast's chin.
So lots of output. Yet Porsche claims the 2010 911 Turbo's engine is 16 per cent more fuel-efficient than last year's. And really, the fuel economy is not so bad at all: 12.7 litres/100 km in the city, 8.1 on the highway.
With a car like this, the temptation is to do errands "the Porsche Way:" slow into the corners, fast out. Don't be gentle. Don't be timid. Grab the car by the scruff of the neck and go driving.
Well, it's not only illegal but flat-out dangerous to drive this ride to its potential anywhere but on a race track. If you manage to engage seriously the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system - the anti-skid system - then you are more than likely risking jail time.
So spend some cash on track time. That way you can really appreciate how well Porsche has combined a long list of high-performance technologies - and bolted them together by hand in Zuffenhausen, Germany.
No one with any sense will argue that this is not the fastest, best-handling and most technologically advanced Porsche 911 Turbo in the car's 35-year history. Consider what is at work here.
Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), for instance, boasts two-position dampers that acts on an aluminum (not steel) subframe for the rear suspension. The seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) transmission provides seamless and lightning-quick shifts through shift paddles affixed to a unique steering wheel ($1,470). Rendered in cast zinc, the left paddle downshifts and the right one upshifts.
I'll say this about the PDK's automatic shifts: They are so intelligent, you'll be tempted to leave the Turbo in Drive most if not all the time.
And did I mention the centre differential distributing power between the front and rear tires. The electronically controlled clutch-pack unit has been beefed up and updated for smoother and quicker operation.
Then there is Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV). It uses brake intervention in certain corners on the inside rear wheel at speeds up to 160 km/h, sending power back through the limited-slip differential to the outside wheel. Porsche claims to have lopped 10 seconds off the previous 911 Turbo's lap time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife and PTV had much to do with this feat.
What it all adds up to is a masterpiece of speed in an eminently livable package. And it looks great not just from behind, but from all other angles, as well.
This supercar looks good from any angle.
2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
Type: Super sports coupe
Price: $192,585, as tested
Engine: 3.8-litre, turbocharged, six-cylinder
Horsepower/torque: 500 hp/480 lb-ft
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.7 city/8.1 highway; premium gas
Alternative: Nissan GT-R, Lamborghini Gallardo, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, Audi R8 5.2 FSI