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A living legend, the 2002 Porsche 911 offers a level of technology, performance and versatility that few other cars can match.
Finely honed sports car abilities, available in all-wheel-drive, convertible, and turbo forms, legendary prestige.
Options are pricey, engine layout attempts to fight the laws of physics.
Available 911 Models
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For those zealots who feel that a 911 Turbo isn't quite enough, Porsche rolls out the new-for-'02 GT2. Standard 911s receive new front-end styling and a bump in engine size (from 3.4 liters to 3.6) and power (from 300 horsepower to 320). Other 2002 Porsche 911 updates include a real glovebox, the option of a Bose stereo, a single cupholder and a gaggle of new wheels. Open-air versions were not overlooked when they were making improvements; the Cabriolet finally gets a glass rear window and the Targa model returns after a four-year hiatus.
The 911 continues to be one of the world's top sports cars. Porsche has the uncanny ability to build a car that has stunning performance (zero-60 in under 4 seconds for Turbo and GT2 models), legendary mystique (what 13-year-old boy doesn't dream of owning a 911?) and real-world functionality (a useable interior and optional all-wheel drive).
Back in 1999, the 911 underwent its first "clean-sheet" redesign since its introduction in 1965. Longer, wider and sleeker than any previous 911, the newest version nevertheless maintains the unmistakable 911 profile and classic styling cues. There are currently six models: the Carrera Coupe and Carrera Cabriolet, the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 Coupe and Carrera 4 Cabriolet, the 911 Turbo and the new 911 GT2. Answering a long-time 911 complaint, Porsche has updated all 911 headlights to look like the style found on last-year's Turbo, thereby making it easier to tell whether it's a Boxster or the faster and more expensive 911 swooping up behind you on the interstate.
Like all previous 911s, the current models feature a rear-mounted, horizontally- opposed six-cylinder engine. Horsepower and displacement have been increased this year, and the all-aluminum 3.6-liter engine generates 320 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. In the Turbo's boosted engine generates a very healthy 415 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.
Still not enough? The new GT2 is an even faster version of the Turbo. For $65,000 more than the all-wheel-drive Turbo, the rear-drive GT2 offers 456 wild horses and 450 pound-feet of twist in a car that's 221 pounds lighter. In addition to the big power, this car comes with ceramic brake discs that weigh 50 percent less than conventional discs and offer superior stopping ability. This road rocket comes only in rear-wheel drive and doesn't have Porsche's stability control system. In other words, only highly-skilled (and wealthy) drivers need apply.
Porsche offers the choice of either a six-speed manual or a five-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission on all models except the GT2, which comes only with the manual gearbox. The Tiptronic S allows drivers the option to manually change transmission gears via steering wheel-mounted thumb switches.
To keep the power under control, the 911 has an independent suspension that uses an optimized MacPherson strut design in front and a multilink setup in the rear. The standard 17-inch wheels come with 205/50ZR17 tires in front and 255/40ZR17 tires in back. An optional 18-inch wheel/tire package (standard on Turbo and GT2 models) enhances both looks and performance.
For ultimate traction, there's the all-wheel-drive system found on Carrera 4 and Turbo models. This system can direct torque to the front wheels at a rate of 5 to 40 percent, depending on available traction and power applied. Carrera 4s and Turbos also receive the Porsche Stability Management system (PSM) as standard equipment (optional on Carreras).
In the 911 coupes, the rear seatbacks (don't plan on actually putting people back there) fold down to create a flat cargo floor. The one-touch power soft top (which now has a glass rear window) on the Cabriolet models folds compactly in a compartment behind the rear seats and is covered with a flush-fitting panel when lowered.
Similar to the last 911 Targa, (1996-1997), the 2002 version features a huge glass roof panel that slides under the rear window. Once again, however, we take exception with the name, as this is more a big moonroof (about twice the size of the standard 911 sunroof) than a true Targa, at least in the traditional sense. The older 911 Targa (pre-1994) was completely open from A- to B-pillar. In its defense, the new Targa is more rigid than those more open cars, contributing to less chassis flex and thus better handling and safety. This newest iteration boasts a rear window that swings open to access the cockpit's luggage area and a sunblind that automatically deploys when the panel is closed.
What's not to like? With MSRPs ranging from nearly $70,000 to $180,000, the Porsche heritage still includes sapping a big bundle of cash out of your wallet. The company also charges a fortune for the long options list. But if you're looking for supercar performance in a legendary package, it's tough to top the 911.
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