First Laps: 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series

WILLOWS, California — Wealthy folk sometimes make it seem as though having cartoonish piles of money is such a bore. When you can afford anything you want, it’s apparently not worth buying if Alistair down at the equestrian club has the same, even in a different color. High-end automakers thrive on this vehicular one-upmanship, releasing limited batches of cars to appease picky, complex-ridden collectors. Stuttgart’s latest and greatest smugmobile, the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series, is a 607-horsepower, all-options-checked monster that’s as limited as it sounds. Last month, ahead of the 2017 Monterey Car Week, the company rolled out an Exclusive Series for us to drive at Thunderhill Raceway—and discover how it feels to be the one percent of the one percent.

From a brand standpoint, the Exclusive Series makes a worryingly large amount of sense. Compared to hard-nosed adrenaline junkies who snap up offerings like the 911 R, GT3, and forthcoming GT2 RS, Turbo buyers tend to focus more on how the world perceives them rather than knocking fractions of a second off of their lap time. Ever since the 930 911 became the darling of Wall Street back in the 1980s, the Turbo badge has carried weight a GT3 just isn’t able to match.

The Exclusive Series (ES) plays to this social strength. And while Porsche GT products infamously command more for less, with no back seats, radios, or air conditioning, the Exclusive Series follows a radically different formula: pay more, get more.

Similar to the regular, hum-drum 911 Turbo S, the ES arrives wearing nearly every single accoutrement offered in the long catalogue, plus additional details from the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur department, a faction specializing in giving extremely wealthy customers customization options limited only by their imagination and checkbook. Scrolling through endless order books can be so dull, so the ES offers rarity right off the peg.

Everything is massaged, touched, stitched, and wrapped by the Exclusive department. Visually, the ES wears the optional Turbo aerokit as standard, now with great chunks of carbon fiber hanging off of the rear bumper, plus a decklid wing, and rear intake ducts. See those distinctive hood stripes? Those are strategically masked-off portions of the all-carbon bonnet where the bare weave shines through gloss. Black brake calipers and a black exhaust outlet round out the design.

We drove a white ES, but the car might be best ordered in the debut Golden Yellow Metallic, similar to the hue featured in the wheel accents. Inside, things get a little crazy. This is where Porsche Exclusive adds color-matched stitching and extended leather to everything. Check the air vent slats—yep, leather. Underneath the steering column? Stitched leather. There’s the requisite carbon-fiber trim kit as well, but look closer. Porsche wove copper thread into the carbon strands, creating a luminous new design that is sure to make your tennis partner, Hudson, feel inadequate about his off-the-shelf black-on-black Carrera 4.

These surface-level touches are fun, but the package starts to gain momentum under the rear decklid. The 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six is fitted with a model-specific powerkit, boosting output to a stunning 607 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. This is 27 extra ponies over the regular Turbo S, and while that torque figure is unchanged, the ES has 553 lb-ft on tap at all times—the pedestrian Turbo S only sees that peak briefly with the standard overboost function.

More carbon fiber, more power, more speed. Advertised 0-60 time is unchanged at 2.8 seconds, but the 0-124 mph time is cut by 0.3 second, down to a skin-rippling 9.6 seconds. Of course, Porsche is famous for providing conservative performance numbers, and from behind the wheel, its cars usually feel much, much faster. This definitely applies to the ES. Our friends at Motor Trend tested a regular, 580-hp Turbo S at 2.5 seconds to 60 mph, so we’ll settle for a 2.4 second sprint in the ES.

There will only be 500 of these worldwide, so imagine my surprise when this white example sat among the three 911 GT3s on hand at the Thunderhill. While the GT3s were real stars of the show at the time, now featuring a killer 4.0-liter, 500-hp naturally aspirated flat-six and the six-speed gearbox out of the 911 R, the Exclusive Series was a perfect companion piece to the track toys.

After running the sweltering, off-camber, decreasing radius Thunderhill gauntlet in the raw GT3, I fell out of the car a sweaty, sore lump. When I finished guzzling two or three water bottles, Porsche handlers dragged me over to the ES, turned on the cooled seats, and sent me on my way down the first straight, behind Le Mans legend Hurley Haywood and his regular 991.2 Turbo S, which served as the pace car.

Warp drive? This is teleportation. Leave it to Porsche to make 607 hp feel like a billion, especially when facing down a 140-mph straight. One second, you’re staring down the tarmac dragway. Mat the throttle and you hear a whoosh; then, suddenly, the first turn looms ahead. It’s that simple—point-to-point takes on a new meaning.

When you do haul the ES down from speed with the standard carbon-ceramic brakes, the plan of attack is not too far off the same method I discovered in the 991.2 Turbo I drove a few months back. It’s true, all Turbo models are heavier and cushier than their sinewy GT siblings, but don’t listen to anyone who says the Turbo’s not for turning. The trick lies in leaning heavily on the incredibly effective all-wheel-drive system, accelerating through the turn rather than maintaining or sloughing speed. If you give it too much of the 553 lb-ft, Porsche’s excellent torque vectoring and stability management (PTV, PSAM) is there to pick up where you left off.

If there’s a weak spot to be found, it’s in the standard Pirelli P Zero tires, which weren’t ideal for continuous track abuse, returning far more understeer than I would have liked when they became too hot. Granted, this relatively long-lasting rubber is ideal for the target customer, who is sure to keep his or her Exclusive Series far, far away from anything remotely resembling a road course. For those who enjoy risking such an asset, Porsche informed me it will offer buyers an optional set of P Zero Corsas, which wear out quicker and are less usable in inclement weather, but far more suited for trackwork.

I didn’t get a chance to drive the ES on public roads, but rest assured, it is as cosseting and easy to drive as the regular Turbo. It’s viciously fast when you need it to be, calm when you don’t, and fills the gaps everywhere in-between.

If this sounds fine and dandy, get ready to shell out an eye-watering $258,550 for one of the 500 examples. While this isn’t too far off the price tag of a fully loaded regular Turbo S, the ES offers a handful of high-dollar options that’s sure to push it right up to the $300,000 mark. Chief among them are the optional carbon-fiber wheels, setting buyers back $15,000, and the limited edition Porsche Design chronograph wristwatch, allowing you to show off even when you have left your car with the valet.

The 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series is a rolling manifestation of one-upmanship, and that’s fine. If you’re shaking your head in disgust, or still trying to fathom why someone would want this over a regular Turbo, that’s also okay, as you’re clearly not the target audience.

Thanks for the laughs and spinal compression, Turbo S Exclusive Series. I’ll see you on the Monaco Riviera.

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $258,550 (base)
ENGINE 3.8L DOHC 24-valve twin-turbocharged flat-six / 607 hp @ 6,750 rpm, 553 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, rear-engine, AWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE N/A
L x W x H 177.4 x 74.0 x 51.1 in
WHEELBASE 96.5 in
WEIGHT 3,528 lb
0-60 MPH 2.4 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 205 mph

 

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