2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
2010 Porsche 911 Turbo. Click image to enlarge
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Article and photos by Haney Louka

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2010 Porsche 911

I’d seen this type of e-mail before. Tony Morris, Porsche’s Western Canadian press fleet manager, sent me a note asking if I could move one of his cars to Winnipeg from another city. I’ve only taken him up on this kind of offer once before, to drive a Cayenne S from Saskatoon a few years ago. It was a great drive on the Yellowhead Highway that follows a northwest-to-southeast path through the Prairies.

But this time, it was different. That’s because the car would be waiting in Calgary, not Saskatoon. And this was no Cayenne S, either. No sir: Tony was asking me to drive home from Calgary in a Porsche 911 Turbo. In my ten years as an automotive journalist, I had yet to get behind the wheel of one of these beasts, and while there are more track-oriented members of the 911 family, this one has the whole package and, to me, has represented the pinnacle of the Porsche model line ever since I was a kid.

2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
2010 Porsche 911 Turbo. Click image to enlarge

So this one was a no-brainer, but there was only one problem. If you’ve ever driven the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Winnipeg you’ll likely recall that there’s one turn at Regina and that’s about it. Cruise control might was well be auto-pilot on this route. I knew that to make this drive special, I’d have to go out of my way a bit.

There was also a time constraint, so I thought I’d benefit from some help to cover more ground in less time (as if the 500 horsepower and all-wheel drive weren’t enough). I enlisted the help of friend and co-worker Derek Mizak to be co-pilot for this weekend adventure, which he later described as the fulfilment of a childhood dream. I’m pretty sure he was talking about the car and not the company.

We decided that we’d need to go south or west from Calgary and at least get a taste of the Rockies before heading back across the Prairies. We thought about going west to Banff, north on the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, and then heading back east through Edmonton. In the end, with the help of Google Maps, we planned a route that would take us south from Cowtown across the U.S. border into Montana, heading back east through North Dakota.

We arrived in a soggy Calgary around noon, where we were met by auto journalist Amee Reehal who had been driving the car before us. At least he was being let down easy; his ride for the following week was a Nissan 370Z convertible. I had seen the forecast for the areas we’d be travelling in and knew it would be raining. Little did I know, though, that we’d only see about four hours of dry roads during the entire 2,200-km trek.

2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
2010 Porsche 911 Turbo
2010 Porsche 911 Turbo. Click image to enlarge

With the airport being so close to Highway 2, also known as the Deerfoot Trail within Calgary city limits, we were on our way in no time. We opted to stay on 2 southbound rather than heading east through Lethbridge to maintain our proximity to the hills, entering the U.S. at Piegan, Montana. The following few hours saw the most scenic area of our drive; it’s too bad the low-lying clouds, constant rain, and three-degree weather weren’t the optimal conditions in which to enjoy the landscape. But none of that mattered, since we were, after all, behind the wheel of arguably one of the most livable exotics on the planet.

With a starting price of $167,900, the Turbo costs about a Boxster S more than a base 911 Carrera. While the 500 horses (making it the third most-powerful of the—count ‘em!—twenty 911 variants) and all-wheel drive make the headlines, there are plenty of other features that are optional or not available on other 911 models. Items like six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes, Porsche Active Suspension Management, 19-inch alloys, power sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, touch-screen navigation, and Bose surround sound are all part of the Turbo package. To make it even more special, our ride was adorned with more than $25,000 in extras, chief among them the $12,050 ceramic composite brakes and $6,200 PDK dual-clutch transmission. Other optional goodies included cocoa leather, aluminum interior trim, adaptive sport seats, a rear differential lock, and a PDK Sports steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles.

Despite being only 44 mm wider and 10 mm lower than a Carrera coupe, the Turbo manages a far more menacing road presence. The huge air intakes that reside just ahead of the rear wheel wells are reserved for turbocharged models only. Our tester wore the beautiful standard-issue 19-inch wheels which have elegantly thin double spokes, allowing a fine view of the ceramic-composite rotors and yellow brake calipers.

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