Test-Driving Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet: 480 Horsepower

The traction-management system prevents the tires from skidding. A stability-management system distributes torque between the all-wheel-drive Cabriolet’s front and rear axles. If the wheels in the back begin to lose traction on a wet surface, the system feeds more torque and power to the front axle.

For speed freaks who want to experience what Porsche calls the “lateral dynamics on the race track� – i.e., skidding -- the stability-control system can be deactivated with a button on the dashboard. However, even then, the traction control is reactivated as soon as the brake is stepped on.

But the engine’s power is the real attraction of this car. All told, the Cabriolet packs 480 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 457 pound feet of torque. With the Sports Chrono Package Turbo, torque is further extended to 501 pound feet.

Like an overclocked PC, the 911 Turbo Cabriolet’s engine emits a huge amount of thermal energy in a confined space.

Temperatures inside the cabriolet’s variable-turbine geometry engine approach 1,000 degrees Celsius. For the engine to handle such extreme temperatures, Porsche says it has tweaked it material composites for enhanced heat resistance, while bolstering radiator cooling with a combination water- and air-cooling system. At speeds of 186 mph, the air-intake vents feed about 4,000 liters of air per second through the heat exchangers for the radiator. Engineers have housed a fan directly above the engine in the back for additional active cooling.

As a measure of Porsche’s engine-design progress, the first-generation 911 Turbo Cabriolet, released in 1987, had a 3.3-liter engine that achieved 300 horsepower, which was then considered a magic benchmark. It had a top speed of 161 mph; and stop-to-62 mph acceleration was 5.4 seconds.

Twenty years on, the new Cabriolet has a slightly larger 3.6-liter engine that can crank up to 480 horsepower, zooming the car at a top speed of 193-mph. According to Porsche, it gets about 22 miles to the gallon.

But for Porsche lovers that want even more power, the firm is on track to bring its fastest 911 yet, the GT2, to the United States early next year. The 911 GT2's 3.6-liter boxer engine will offer maximum output of 530 horsepower -- zero-to-60 mph acceleration in 3.6 seconds and a top track speed of 204 mph.

Of course, all this power has its cost. The 911 Turbo Cabriolet retails for $136,500, and the GT2 will cost a cool $191,700. Already, Porsche’s engineers are at work on the design of an even-more-powerful 911 for launch in the next few years.

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