Full 2014 Porsche 911 Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the new Turbo, Turbo S and GT3 models initially join the Porsche 911 lineup. Later in the model year, the Targa and the Turbo convertible variants further expand the family. To celebrate a half-century of 911s, there's also a 50th Anniversary edition.
For 50 years, the Porsche 911 has been the quintessential sports car. Through the decades, it has remained true to its roots as a serious performer, with enough refinement and innovation to appeal to more sophisticated drivers with deeper pockets. Rather than explode onto the scene with a completely reworked 911 every generation, Porsche's top sports car has evolved, edging ever closer to perfection.
The latest 2014 Porsche 911 lineup follows this tradition, providing stunning performance, decadent luxury and all-day comfort in a single package. This year, its performance threshold increases, as the new-generation 911 Turbo, Turbo S and GT3 models join the lineup. The new Turbo and Turbo S get a turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder that belts out 520 horsepower in the Turbo and 560 hp in the Turbo S. All-wheel drive is again standard, though the Turbo models do have a new four-wheel steering system. Also new: Porsche is only equipping them with the seven-speed automated manual (PDK) transmission.
No disrespect to the Turbo S -- it's the fastest 911 on the lot -- but the GT3 is still the baddest Porsche on the block. This track-oriented model features a normally aspirated 3.8-liter six-cylinder good for 475 hp and a hair-raising 9,000-rpm redline. The new four-wheel steering system is used here as well, as is the PDK transmission (specially tuned for GT3 use). Note that PDK is standard -- this is the first Porsche 911 GT3 not offered with a conventional manual gearbox.
Making their debut halfway into the model year are the Turbo convertible and the Targa versions. The former is as you'd expect: the Turbo in the convertible body style. But the latter is noteworthy in that it mimics the style and function of the classic 911 Targa. Rather than having a big, framed glass sunroof that slides rearward over the rear hatch glass (like the most recent Targas), the 2014 version has a large, frameless roof panel that powers out of sight behind the rear seats, providing a more open cabin. It also features the iconic brushed aluminum "Targa bar" and wrap-around rear window that recall the handsome style of the earlier Targas.
With so many Porsche 911 models available, not to mention hundreds of options, there's undoubtedly one to suit you. To commemorate this year's milestone, there's even a 50th Anniversary edition that goes beyond simple badging and adds real performance in the form of a horsepower bump. But even the base 911 Carrera is sure to please even the most jaded of sports car drivers with its intoxicating blend of power, handling and sensory input.
Of course, the 2014 Porsche 911 isn't the only choice out there for a sports car. Depending on your priorities, other cars like the 2014 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, 2014 Audi R8, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette, 2014 Jaguar F-Type, 2014 Mercedes SL-Class or SLS AMG GT or 2014 Nissan GT-R might work out better for you. But the Porsche's all-around appeal is hard to beat, especially if you want a car you can drive every day. Fifty years on, the 2014 Porsche 911 is quite simply perfection evolved.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The four-seat 2014 Porsche 911 features a deep roster of trim levels and distinct models.
The base model 911 Carrera starts with 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, automatic bi-xenon headlights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, four-way adjustable power seats (with manual fore-aft), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker audio system with CD player and USB/iPod interface.
The Carrera 4 is similarly equipped, with the addition of slightly wider rear fenders and all-wheel drive. The rear-wheel-drive Carrera S adds a more powerful engine, 20-inch wheels, a slightly lower ride height, adaptive suspension dampers (PASM) and a torque-vectoring rear differential. The Carrera 4S includes the same features, along with all-wheel drive.
All the above models are also offered in convertible ("Cabriolet") versions, which have a power-operated cloth top and wind blocker that deploys behind the front seats. Furthermore, the Carrera 4 and 4S are also available in the Targa body style. The Targa features a power-operated, fully retractable rooftop panel that provides the comfort and security of a coupe when closed and the open-air exhilaration of a convertible when open.
For 2014, a special 50th Anniversary 911 coupe model is offered that features all of the Carrera S items, along with a more powerful engine, retro-styled wheels, the 4S model's wider rear bodywork, 10-way power-adjustable front seats (with four-way lumbar), driver memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel and unique interior and exterior trim.
The new 911 Turbo coupe features even more power, a fixed rear spoiler with articulating wing elements, some aesthetic and aerodynamic body revisions, a rear-wheel steering feature (that both tightens up the car's turning radius and improves stability during lane changes), adaptive headlights and a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system (with smartphone app integration). The Turbo S model turns the power output up even higher and adds LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, 14-way power-adjustable front seats and carbon-fiber interior trim. The 911 Turbo and Turbo S are also available in the Cabriolet body style.
Finally, there's the track-focused two-seat 911 GT3 coupe with power output that places it between the 50th Anniversary and Turbo models. Features are similar to the Turbo model with the addition of a "Track" driving mode.
Many of the upper trim features are available as options on supporting models. There is a wealth of other optional add-ons that are bundled in packages or à la carte. Option highlights (depending on the model) include various wheel designs, ceramic-composite brake rotors, dynamic engine mounts, a sport suspension, active antiroll bars (PDCC), power-folding mirrors, roof rack mounting points, a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated and/or multifunction steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, an upgraded trip computer, a dash-mounted stopwatch, voice control, a 12-speaker Burmester premium audio system, a six-CD changer, satellite radio and HD radio.
Time and budget allowing, buyers can further customize their 911 with seemingly endless interior treatments, from leather texture to trim material and seatbelt colors.
Powertrains and Performance
The base 911 Carrera models are powered by 3.4-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engines that produce 350 hp and 287 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed manual transmission is standard and sends power to the rear wheels, with a seven-speed automated manual transmission (called PDK) offered as an option. Selecting the Sport Chrono package provides additional driver-selectable shift modes for the PDK, plus launch control.
Carrera S models receive a 3.8-liter engine that increases output to 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Opting for the Carrera S Powerkit increases output to 430 hp. The 50th Anniversary model's 3.8-liter engine receives the Powerkit upgrade as standard.
Porsche 911 models with the 4 and 4S designations denote all-wheel drive and mirror the Carrera and Carrera S engine specs, respectively.
The 911 Turbo has a turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder that generates 520 hp and 487 lb-ft (524 lb-ft with a temporary overboost function). The Turbo S further increases power to 560 hp and 516 lb-ft (553 lb-ft in overboost). The GT3's normally aspirated 3.8-liter six-cylinder makes 475 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The Turbo models and the GT3 are only available with the seven-speed PDK transmission. All-wheel drive is standard for the Turbo models, while the GT3 is rear-drive only.
In Edmunds testing of a Carrera Cabriolet with PDK, we recorded a 4.8-second 0-60 mph time with launch control. More impressive was a Carrera S coupe with PDK; it accelerated to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds (again, using launch control). Porsche says the Turbo sprints to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds (3.0 with launch control), the Turbo S in a blistering 2.9 seconds and the GT3 in 3.3 seconds.
Despite the impressive performance, Porsche's 911 lineup also produces respectable fuel economy numbers. The base 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 are rated at an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) with the PDK transmission. The seven-speed manual Carrera and Carrera S models are rated 1 mpg lower across the board. The Carrera 4S is rated at 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway) with PDK and 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway) with the manual.
Standard safety features for all 2014 Porsche 911 models include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, and side thorax, head and knee airbags for the front seats. Adaptive headlights and parking sensors are available as an option, but a rearview camera is not offered. The optional adaptive cruise control also includes a forward collision warning and mitigation system, which can apply the brakes if no action is taken.
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 frequently participate in high-performance driving events.
Interior Design and Special Features
Throughout much of the Porsche 911's storied history, interior quality has been class-leading, with improvements along the way. Today's 911 is downright luxurious, with top-notch leather upholstery (and even more leather coverings available as an option) and plastic panels that are convincingly grained to match. Trim elements in aluminum and carbon fiber are equally praiseworthy.
The front seats still provide a surprising amount of space for larger adults, considering the 911's smaller exterior appearance. There are several seat choices, with varying degrees for sport-oriented support, but all of them supply ample lateral support to hold you in during enthusiastic cornering and enough cushioning to provide all-day comfort. There is also a wealth of head- and legroom, as well as seat/wheel adjustments to make tall drivers comfortable. The rear seats, however, are ill suited to even the smallest of passengers and are better suited to handling the overflow from the small 5.1-cubic-foot luggage compartment up front.
On the whole, the Porsche 911 is suitable for daily use, thanks to thoughtful design and modern amenities. Navigation, smartphone and audio functions are easily tackled through the touchscreen interface and numerous physical buttons. There's also an additional stalk coming off the steering column that acts as a redundant multifunction controller. Interior storage is passable by sports-car standards, but none of the slots are particularly large and the cupholders won't hold anything larger or heavier than a cup of coffee.
The 2014 Porsche 911 remains true to its performance and racing heritage, while providing an agreeable ride quality for long-distance touring. The electric-assist power steering that's now used on all 911 models lacks some of the feel of the old hydraulic system, but it's still brilliant in the way it communicates what's happening at the wheels and consequently builds your confidence during enthusiastic driving.
Power from the flat-six-cylinder engine is robust, even in base Carrera trim. Upgrading to S, GT3 and Turbo models is really only justified for the most power-hungry and talented of drivers. As an added bonus, all of these 911s sound great under spirited acceleration.
Historically, a manual transmission was the only true choice for those who enjoy a thrilling romp on twisting roads or a racetrack, but Porsche's PDK automated manual should change all of that. Shifts are executed with an urgency and perfection that even the best professional drivers would find nearly impossible to duplicate with a traditional manual. Going with PDK also allows a driver to focus his energies on driving well, and as an added bonus, PDK-equipped models are eligible for the Sport Chrono launch control option. That said, the seven-speed manual is still one of the best being made today, so if you like shifting your own gears, you won't be disappointed with it.