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Racing Along the Rhine

Motoring along the banks of Germany’s famous river in a top-of-the-line Porsche 911 Turbo S

Author James Williams Illustration Brett Affrunti

Price: $182,700

Price: $182,700

Now 50 years old, the 911 is as much an icon as the UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Middle Rhine, the region we’re driving through today. Though the car’s front end is instantly identifiable, the Turbo S has racer-style rear intakes that set it apart from other Porsches.

We start off in Mainz, birthplace of the Gutenberg printing press, and drive west toward the forested hillsides of Rüdesheim and the challenging terrain of its snaking cliffside roads, which allow us to put the Turbo S’s precise four-wheel steering to work.

We stop off at the Nürburgring, a race track where, for $35, you can drive your own car on 13 and a half miles of twists, cambers and blind bends. Here, the Turbo S does zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, after which we edge toward the top speed of 197 mph. Mein Gott!

Active damping constantly monitors forces on each wheel. In Sport mode there is a tighter feel, which perfectly complements the Turbo S’s new front and rear spoilers, which provide extra downforce, a trick up your sleeve on the no-speed-limit Autobahn.

This is Germany, people, so pump up the Wagner … or Kraftwerk. Whatever your taste, it’s gonna rock coming out of the Burmester sound system, which consists of 12 amplifier channels totaling 821+ watts of output and 12 loudspeakers, including a 300-watt subwoofer.

The four-pipe exhaust note is all we can hear (time to turn up the “Ring Cycle”!) as we hum past a collection of 20 or so fairy-tale castles. At Koblenz, where the Rhine joins the Mosel, we visit Stolzenfels Castle, a bit of kitsch replete with pretty gardens and epic river views.

The 20-inch forged aluminum wheels emblazoned with the Porsche crest look awesome lined up in the Nürburgring’s paddock. On the track, the tires give relentless grip, and ceramic brakes bring us to a halt faster than a dodgy bratwurst at an Autobahn truckstop.

The Turbo S doesn’t have all that much room for luggage: on top of two carry-on suitcases, maybe a case of classic Bitburger lager in the front trunk space. If your weekend getaway includes a trip to the Nürburgring, just be sure to take that Bitburger out first.

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