While Porsche's lineup of vehicles has been expanding in recent years, there's no question that the company's heritage and soul primarily come from a single rear-engine sports car, the 911. From rather humble beginnings, the Porsche 911 has gone on to become one of the most influential and most recognizable vehicles in the world. Today's version of the car provides stunning levels of performance without sacrificing much in terms of day-to-day usability, and many Porsche purists still consider the 911 the only "real" Porsche.
For the sports car shopper, a wide choice of drivetrains and body styles through the years makes it easy to find the perfect new or used 911. And although other sports cars have been able to outperform the 911 in one area or another, arguably no car can match the Porsche's overall blend of performance, practicality and that intoxicatingly direct connection between car and driver.
Current Porsche 911
The current 911 is available in coupe, retractable-roof coupe (Targa) and convertible (Cabriolet) body styles. The base 911 Carrera features a 350-horsepower 3.4-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine (flat-6), while the Carrera S gets a 400-hp 3.8-liter flat-6 (430 hp with the optional Powerkit). The transmission for these models is either a seven-speed manual or an optional dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual known as PDK. Rear-wheel drive is standard on all except the Targa, which employs an all-wheel-drive system that's optional on the others (and denoted by a "4" in their model names).
If these specs seem inadequate, you've got options. The AWD-only and PDK-only 911 Turbo carries a turbocharged 3.8-liter flat-6 that pumps out a cool 520 hp, while the rear-wheel-drive GT3 coupe (also PDK-only) features a naturally aspirated version with 475 hp and a 9,000-rpm redline. There's also a truly absurd Turbo S model with 560 hp.
In terms of feature content, a 911's standard equipment is generally just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, if you want a bone-stock 911 Carrera coupe, Porsche will gladly build you one, and in fact it'll come nicely equipped with bi-xenon headlights, leather upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen and a nine-speaker sound system. But most buyers take advantage of Porsche's seemingly endless options list to make their cars unique, adding niceties like Burmester premium audio, adaptive sports seats, Porsche crests in various locations and even leather-trimmed climate vent slats. OK, most people don't add the leather slats, but we enjoy the fact that Porsche offers them at all.
In reviews, we've found that most of the 911 variants are equally comfortable whether tearing through a twisty road or smoothly dealing with the daily commute. The 911's capabilities are even easier to exploit with the PDK dual-clutch automated manual gearbox, which shifts more quickly and smoothly than you can, and requires one fewer pedal to do it. On the other hand, the buttery seven-speed manual shifter provides a more intimate driving experience, and it traces a direct lineage to the manual-only 911s of the past. You can't go wrong either way. The high-performance 911 editions are regrettably no longer available with a stick, but they compensate with performance and handling on par with exotic supercars. If you're looking for a premium yet practical sports car with history on its side, the 911 is tough to top.
Read the most recent 2015 Porsche 911 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Porsche 911 page.
For more on past Porsche 911 models, view our Porsche 911 history page.