Full 2013 Porsche 911 Review
What's New for 2013
Unlike last year when there were essentially two generations of the car on sale at the same time, the 2013 Porsche 911 is now almost entirely the new ("991") generation. Only the 911 Turbo soldiers on as the sole "997" anomaly. All-wheel drive is now available for the new 911, but traditional specialty models, such as the GT2 or GT3, won't likely be available until next year.
There are only a handful of iconic cars whose complete redesign is both as highly anticipated as well as utterly feared by car enthusiasts as the Porsche 911. When the seventh-generation 911 debuted last year, people wondered whether the car would still have enough spirit to make it worthy of its iconic name. Now that we've had a year to reflect, we have to say that it was a storm in a teacup. The 2013 Porsche 911 is still very much a 911.
Of all the changes wrought on one of the world's most famous sports cars, last year's shift from hydraulic- to electric-assisted steering was one of the most scrutinized. Rest assured Porsche faithful, as the 911 still has lightning reflexes and a jeweler's precision, but is now more capable and more comfortable over a wider range of circumstances.
It's rare for any company to release every model and trim variant during a redesign year, and Porsche is no different. To give you an idea of scale, at its maximum number during the previous generation's production, there were 21 distinct Porsche 911 models available. Now in its second year of production, the new Porsche 911 is limited to a relatively skimpy six variants. But there's little reason to fret; with its sublime handling, impressively quick acceleration and everyday usability, even a basic 911 is an utterly fantastic sports car.
Of course, there are other choices when it comes to flashy metal. Rivals such as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Audi R8, Chevrolet Corvette and Mercedes-Benz SL are all desirable in their own right. But when it comes to a highly evolved and refined front runner, there is no substitute for the 2013 Porsche 911.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Last year's partial introduction of the seventh-generation Porsche 911 made things confusing for buyers. There was a dizzying array of 911 variants because some previous "997" generation cars were sold alongside the current "991" versions. With the exception of the potent "997" 911 Turbo, that ends with the 2013 model year when the entire Carrera (coupe) and Cabriolet (convertible) lineup is unified under the "991" roof.
The 911 starts in Carrera (coupe) and Carrera Cabriolet (convertible) forms. Up from here, there are the higher-performance "S" models or the all-wheel-drive variants (4 and 4S).
The 2013 Porsche Carrera is equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlights, LED turn signals and running lights, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, four-way power-adjustable partial leather sport seats with manual fore/aft adjustment, split-folding rear seats, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, partial leather interior trim and a faux suede headliner. Standard infotainment is covered by Porsche Communications Management (PCM) that includes a 7-inch touchscreen electronics interface including navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod/auxiliary inputs.
The Carrera S version has this equipment plus 20-inch wheels, a more powerful engine, larger brakes and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with a lower ride height and selectable Sport or Normal driving modes.
The Cabriolet and Cabriolet S models are essentially the same but include a multilayer power soft top and power-operated wind baffle.
Notable stand-alone Carrera exterior options include 20-inch wheels, high-gloss anodized aluminum exterior trim, various body parts painted body color rather than the factory standard black, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, a rear window wiper, power-folding mirrors, a sunroof in either steel or glass and a rear wing.
For the interior, options include various surfaces in paint, leather, wood, aluminum and faux suede as well as colored seatbelts, a full leather interior, full leather seats, heated and/or ventilated front seats, 14- or 18-way power sport seats with driver memory, Sport Seat Plus (standard seats with more side bolstering), a heated steering wheel, multifunction or sport-oriented steering wheels and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Adaptive cruise control is also available and includes pre-collision warning and automatic braking.
Audio and communications options include voice control of navigation and audio, online services, an electronic trip/economy logbook, satellite and HD Radio.
Performance upgrades include a torque-vectoring differential (PTV), ceramic composite brakes, a two-position active suspension (PASM) with a lower ride height, variable power steering and a sport exhaust system.
There are also bundled options. The Sport Chrono package includes dynamic engine mounts, a dash-top stopwatch, a performance display, adjustable drive settings, shift light for manual-equipped cars, launch control for PDK cars and a steering wheel display for sport modes. The Premium package comes with auto-dimming mirrors, dynamic bi-xenon headlights, headlight washers and heated power sport seats. The Premium Package Plus adds ventilated seats, keyless entry/ignition and ambient interior lighting. The Bose Audio package has a 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, HD and satellite radio and a six-disc changer. The even more premium Burmester audio package duplicates the above features, but adds more wattage and more sophisticated speakers.
Stand-alone Carrera S options are the same as the Carrera (except where noted above as standard on the Carrera S), plus dynamic stabilizer bars (PDCC), a Carrera S Powerkit that further increases output to 430 horsepower and specific engine compartment styling with a titanium-colored cover and carbon inserts.
Standard and optional equipment on the Cabriolet/Cabriolet S largely follow those of the Carrera/Carrera S.
The all-wheel-drive 911 Turbo (coupe and convertible) rides on 19-inch wheels, a more aggressive suspension tune, unique body styling, full-power front seats, a full leather interior, auto-dimming interior and driver-side mirrors and a 13-speaker Bose surround-sound system. The Turbo S version adds more power, an automated-manual transmission, carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive sport seats and the availability of special two-tone interior color schemes.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Porsche 911 line is powered by a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine (two different sizes/outputs). It's connected to a seven-speed manual transmission as standard or a seven-speed automated manual (known as PDK) as an option. Rear drive is used for most 911s, but Carrera 4, 4S and all Turbo models have all-wheel drive.
The 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera has a 3.4-liter engine producing 350 hp and 287 pound-feet of torque. Porsche estimates the Coupe will go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with the PDK, and in Edmunds testing a PDK-equipped Cabriolet did it in 4.7 seconds. The Carrera S is powered by a 3.8-liter engine that makes 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque (430 hp with the optional Carrera S Powerkit). In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Carrera S coupe went from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while a Carrera S PDK did it in 3.9 seconds. A Cabriolet S PDK got to 60 in 4.2 seconds.
Fuel economy, of course, varies by model, engine and driveline, but not by much. From most to least efficient variants, the Carrera PDK earns an EPA rating of 20 mpg city/28 highway and 23 mpg combined, to the Carrera 4S Cabriolet with an 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined estimate.
The obvious outliers are, of course, the Turbo and Turbo S models. The all-wheel-drive Turbo has a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter engine that produces 500 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. The PDK is available, but a six-speed manual is standard. An overboost function cranks the torque output to 516 lb-ft. In Edmunds performance testing of a PDK-equipped coupe, this engine was enough to hit 60 in a staggering 3.2 seconds. The Turbo S, also available as a convertible, should be even quicker, with 530 hp, 516 lb-ft of torque and standard PDK.
The entire Turbo line manages to achieve the same EPA-estimated 19 mpg combined regardless of engine output or transmission. Of course, your results may vary.
Every 2013 Porsche 911 comes with antilock ventilated disc brakes, stability control and front, side and side curtain airbags, and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger (except Turbo/Turbo S models). The optional adaptive cruise control system also features automatic brake application if it detects an imminent collision.
In Edmunds brake testing, the 911 Carrera S came to a stop from 60 mph in an astounding 98 feet. At the other end of the spectrum, a Cabriolet S required 5 feet more. Given this excellent performance, you'd only need the available ceramic composite brakes if you frequent high-performance driving events.
Interior Design and Special Features
Exceptional build quality and superior materials are consistent throughout the varied Porsche 911 lineup. Leather surfaces are top-notch and plastics are convincingly grained to match. Optional genuine leather, aluminum and carbon fiber are impeccable.
Since its introduction in 2012, the redesigned 911 interior features a center console that sweeps upward, creating a unified bridge between the center armrest and dash that's similar to the design Porsche uses for its Panamera sedan. The upside is that the gearshift is conveniently placed closer to the steering wheel; the downside is that the cabin feels less open and spacious than before.
The new car's longer wheelbase also translates to added legroom, but only by an inch for the front seats. Rear seats also benefit from added legroom, but are still barely suitable even for small children. Realistically, their flip-down seatbacks create a useful parcel shelf big enough to hold a golf bag. Extremely supportive and comfortable standard front bucket seats do a great job of holding both driver and passenger in place while cornering. The optional seats with more articulation plus heating and ventilating only improve on the excellent design. Roomy foot wells and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel mean the 911 can accommodate drivers of nearly all sizes.
Interior controls are relatively simple to operate, and items like navigation, Bluetooth, the iPod interface and optional voice controls help make this sports car a viable daily driver. There are also plenty of places to stow all manner of personal effects.
Any fears that Porsche strayed too far from the winning 911 formula with last year's redesign are completely unfounded. The 2013 Porsche 911 remains an extraordinary sports car. Quicker and more efficient, it now meets an even higher standard of handling and grip. The 991's electric-assisted steering doesn't quite match the previous car's hydraulic-boosted setup for feel, but the system remains incredibly precise, just as before. The flat-6 engine produces strong acceleration and sounds fantastic doing it. At the same time, the 911 is very comfortable over long distances, improving its ability to be an everyday sports car.
To this day, the Porsche 911 is the first and only production car to feature a seven-speed manual transmission. It sounds implausible, and the shift pattern embossed on the cue-ball-shaped knob looks outlandish, but in operation 7th gear is locked out until you've first visited 6th gear and then it's just another upshift to the right of 5th. For those who enjoy living with three pedals, Porsche's manual is still one of the finest around.
However, to get the best economy, quickest acceleration and seamless shifting performance regardless of engine or driveline, Porsche's PDK automated-manual transmission is overwhelmingly superior to the standard transmission. Porschephiles might say otherwise, but our collective hunch is that they've yet to fully experience the utterly flawless PDK that's worth every cent.