Is the Porsche 911 Turbo S Better With the Lightweight Package?

Or to put it another way...can you improve on perfection?

porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

Full disclosure, before we get started here: this will not be the sort of unbiased review you would find in, say, Consumer Reports. Both my personal enthusiasm and that of Gear Patrol generally for the Porsche 911 are well-documented; we celebrate great products here, and few other cars have managed to distinguish themselves from the pack over and over again with a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop worth of flavors of excellence the way the 911 has. Odds are good that, unless you're one of those staunch anti-Porsche types, you like it too — or at least have a general respect for it.

And, for my money's worth, the 911 Turbo S stands as one of the best of the breed. I've already gone on record citing the regular 911 Turbo as the last sports car you might ever need; the Turbo S is simply that with a bit of extra power, and who ever complained about that?

Even in today's world of 911 GT3s and Sport Classics and likely-incipient GT2 RSs and whatever wild performance variants are in the works, the Turbo stands tall. Before turbochargers found their way into every other car, truck and SUV on the planet, there was the 911 Turbo of the 1970s and 1980s: the first truly wild 911, a car whose propensity for snap oversteer and afterburner boost gave it the nickname "the Widowmaker." The Turbo S first dropped in 1997, as the ultimate version of the 993-generation Turbo, packing a bit of extra power, a few extra accoutrements and a price tag worthy of its limited-run status. It proved popular enough that Porsche brought it back as a regular production model for the subsequent 996-generation car, and since then, it's been the 911's top-tier non-GT model.

But at Porsche, like in nature, evolution never stops. So for 2022, the folks at Zuffenhausen found a way to make the Turbo S even more extreme: the Lightweight Package.

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The 911 Turbo S Lightweight Package's changes are few
porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

With all due respect to Porsche's engineers and brand managers alike, the Turbo S's "Lightweight Package" stretches the definition of its first name. Check the box for the pack — which adds $10,340 to the car's $217,550 starting price — and you'll see the following changes:

  • Lightweight, noise-insulated glass
  • Reduced insulation and sound deadening
  • The PASM Sport Suspension
  • The Sport Exhaust System (with tailpipes in silver or black)
  • Deletion of the rear seats
  • A choice of carbon-fiber full-bucket seats with 2-way manual adjustment, or the Adaptive Sport Seats Plus with 18-way electric adjustment

All told, the tweaks will save you about 66 pounds, if you go for the full-throated version with the carbon fiber bucket seats. Considering the 911 Turbo S weighs in around 3,600 pounds and brings 640 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque to bear, that's barely noticeable; if you can't tell the performance difference between your car when there's someone in the passenger seat and when there isn't, you certainly won't ever notice the weight difference. If you're looking to really squeeze out an extra erg of straight-line performance, you'd be better off drag-racing with half a tank of gas; you'd save the same amount of weight and all that money.

porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

The Lightweight Package, then, is more about changing the character of the Turbo S, rather than the actual performance. With less sound insulation, thinner glass and the sport exhaust, more of the flat-six's rawness shines through into the cabin; any grand touring pretensions of the 992-generation 911 vanish as the tachometer sweeps past 12 o'clock and the car leaps for Warp 9. And the seats grip you with an intensity not found in most street cars...

...which can be both blessing and curse.

The Lightweight Package's seats are the most aggressive part
porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

Keen-eyed observers may notice two things here: 1) yes, the Turbo S has a cupholder that can accomodate a Starbucks grande; 2) those aggro carbon fiber-framed seats have no backrest adjustment. They're as fixed as a spayed dog; all you can do is move them forwards or backwards.

You grow used to the upright angle of the seat over time, however. Same goes for the cozy nature of their sides, which keeps you snug as a bug in a rug as you whip through turns. What grows much more irritating is the sharp confines of the hip area, where the seats pinch inwards — and thus pinch the sides of your gluteal muscles. It's fine for the first 30 minutes, tolerable for the next 30, uncomfortable for the 30 after that, and leaves you limping upon exit after any length of time beyond there.

And when that time comes, extricating one's self from the car over the high lip of the seat is also a bit of a challenge; with no easy grab handle to help heft yourself over the high lip, it's an awkward maneuver, especially with a numb butt. It's even more tricky for anyone wearing a dress, skirt or kilt, as they'll be faced with the additional challenge of keeping their knees together like a Catholic schoolgirl, or else risk pulling a Britney Spears.

The 911 Turbo S's practicality is largely unaffected, though
porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

Learn to deal with the seats, however — or rather, I'd suggest, spec their power-operated alternatives — and you'll find the Lightweight Package does nothing to compromise the basic utility that helps set the 911 above other sports cars of similar capability. Indeed, in some ways, it adds to it.

With the rear nubbin seats deleted, their former home becomes a carpeted, terraced cargo shelf area — one that proved large enough to comfortably hold a studio apartment's worth of plants, as I found while helping a friend move. Between the scalloped seat holes and the parcel shelf above, there's enough room in back for at least two carry-ons and two personal items — and the frunk has room for another 4.5 cubic feet of storage on top of that.

Likewise, while the PASM Sport Suspension brings a bit of added ride harshness to the party, it's small potatoes unless you're the sort of sleeper bothered by peas under piles of mattresses. Rough surfaces will send the occasional shockwave through the car's rock-solid body, sure, but it's the price you pay for a car capable of such remarkable levels of performance. That suspension has to hold all that mass taut and level even under the supercar-level g-forces this car is capable of inflicting upon itself, after all.

Bottom line: the 911 Turbo S may be the perfect sports car...
porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

Simply put: there's no car on sale today that combines the sheer breadth of capabilities as the 911 Turbo S. Just look at the stats: 0-60 miles per hour in 2.12.2 seconds; a quarter-mile time of right around 10 seconds flat; a top speed well north of 200 miles per hour — but also room for tall people to stretch out in comfort, a high-end Burmester stereo, more cargo space than a BMW 33oe and even the ability to get 27 mpg on the highway. (Okay, fine, that's the regular 911 Turbo, but odds are good the Turbo S would be pretty damn close.)

But as with all the best driver's cars, the spec sheet doesn't tell the whole story. It can't tell you just how engaging and tactile the steering is for a car made in the modern era, with a feel and directness that makes you feel truly tied into this Porsche. It can't explain what it truly feels like to be launched forward at a peak acceleration of nearly twice the force of gravity, or the euphoria that comes with pushing harder and harder into turn after turn only to realize you can keep on going faster and faster. It can't explain the rock-solid feel that permeates every inch and ounce of the car...and it can't explain the swelling of pride that blossoms when you park the car and walk away to look back and see its happy face, just waiting for you to come back for another dance. Plenty of cars are fast, and many of those make fast fun; the 911 Turbo S redefines both.

...but the Lightweight Package is very much a matter of personal taste
porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

Luckily, you can choose almost all the chunks of the Lightweight Package á la carte from Porsche's extensive options list. For my money, I'd say absolutely yes to the sports exhaust and sport suspension, maybe to the lightweight glass, and probably not for the rear seat delete. (It may free up a couple inches more cargo space, but it'd be nice to have room for dogs or smaller humans for short trips.) As for those manual seats that represent the biggest chunk of the already-minor lightweight'ning? To quote Randy Jackson, that's gonna be a no from me, dawg.

The Lightweight Package tweaks the character of the Turbo S, bringing out a bit more of the aggression and potency that once defined the 911 Turbo but has since been, to some degree, smoothed out with layer upon layer of refinement, luxury and technology. It may not be any more likely to bite you in the ass, but it certainly sounds and feels more like it.

If you're looking for a 911 to demolish race tracks, the Turbo S Lightweight will absolutely do it — but the 911 GT3 will do it better. It weighs more than 300 pounds less, after all, offers even more aggressive aero, and doesn't sully its front wheels with thrust duties. (It also lets you spec a six-speed manual gearbox if you prioritize engagement over lap times.)

Personally, I'd take my Turbo S a bit more subdued and comfortable, making it ideal for both the long drives to the best back roads and those back roads in equal measure. But if you prefer your Porsches loud and proud, the Lightweight Package is for you. Just, y'know, make sure you try those manual bucket seats before you buy ‘em.

2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S w/Lightweight Package
porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
Will Sabel Courtney

Price as Tested: $226,550

Powertrain: 3.7-liter turbocharged flat-six; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive

Horsepower: 640

Torque: 590 lb-ft

EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway

Seats: 2


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Will Sabel Courtney

Know what you're talking about when the Porsche 911 comes up.


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