Used 2002 Porsche 911 Convertible
- 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.
Used 2002 Porsche 911 Convertible for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
A living legend, the 2002 Porsche 911 offers a level of technology, performance and versatility that few other cars can match.
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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In the high-dollar world of exotic sports cars, even Porsche knows there's always room for a good value.
Consider the 2002 911 Targa. With a translucent glass roof that slides open with the touch of a button, it provides a convertible-like experience for thousands less than the full-bore cabriolet.
Or how about the all-new 911 4S? This hard-top coupe comes loaded with nearly all of the hardware found in the big-buck Turbo, sans the turbo engine, for a mere $80,000 35 g's less than the standard Turbo.
OK, so maybe value is a relative term. But there's nothing relative about the appeal of these new 911s. Whether you're looking for an exquisite coupe that just happens to have a huge sunroof, or you're yearning for the stunning looks and handling of the legendary Turbo minus the equally stunning six-figure sticker price, the reintroduction of the Targa and the 4S to the 911 lineup is about as close to a bargain as you're ever going to get.
The return of the Targa marks its third generation. First introduced in 1967, the Targa gave buyers the thrill of an open-air coupe while retaining the 911's stiff body structure. The concept returned in 1996, with a power sliding sunroof replacing the fully removable panels on the original. This latest version further refines the concept with even more glass overhead and a new hinged panel in back for easier access to the rear storage area.
The rest of the Targa's interior is standard 911, although there are some minor upgrades for the 2002 model year. A real glovebox now resides in front of the passenger, while the cupholder, stilly poorly placed above the dash, has been redesigned for a better grip on your morning coffee. A digital Bose sound system in now available, finally bringing the 911 up to speed in the arena of high-end audio systems. Unfortunately for the salespeople at Bose, Porsche also refined the exhaust system for the revamped engine, rendering the new stereo a somewhat questionable option.
Now displacing 3.6 liters, the 911's flat six boasts 320 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The addition of the VarioCam Plus valve timing system from the Turbo and a dual-stage intake system gives the engine incredible flexibility, allowing it to deliver up to 86 percent of its peak torque output between 2,500 and 7,000 rpm. V8 fans might find it a little soft off the line, but the power builds quickly thereafter, continuing well into tachometer ranges that would leave most eight-cylinders gasping for air. The slightly revised mufflers make for an even sweeter sound when running wide open, but even at idle, there's still that unmistakable Porsche purr.
The standard transmission remains a six-speed manual, with the five-speed Tiptronic automanual optional. Certain key components on the manual unit were beefed up with stronger steel to handle the added engine power, but the shifter retains the lightweight feel of last year's model. It's still a little too notchy for our tastes, but for most driving situations, and most drivers, the shifter works well.
On the road, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the Targa and a standard Carrera coupe. Additional reinforcement in the A- and C-pillars of the Targa maintains its structural rigidity, while revised spring and shock settings compensate for the added weight (150 pounds) of the glass roof. Handling remains phenomenal, with more than enough power and grip to keep even the most jaded enthusiast challenged for years to come. Then again, if you really want a car that will test the limits of your nerves, the 4S might be the ride you're looking for.
Although the Carrera 4S shares its powerplant and transmissions with the standard Carrera, the rest of the car borrows heavily from the top-shelf Turbo. You can see it in the more muscular body with its prominent front and rear air intakes and wider rear track. There are no side air intakes on the 4S, as their sole purpose was to feed the Turbo's dual intercoolers. The car also retains the one-piece retractable spoiler found on the standard models. Details unique to the 4S include a reflector strip between the taillights, a reinforced rear decklid and a reshaped front spoiler to compensate for the slight difference in weight between it and the Turbo.
For hardware, the 4S draws from the Turbo for its all-wheel-drive system, suspension, brakes and 18-inch wheels and tires. The all-wheel-drive system sends between 5 and 40 percent of the engine's power to the front wheels for added grip. The suspension is identical to the Turbo's, with only slight tuning changes made to the shock absorbers. Four-piston brake calipers grab cross-drilled rotors measuring 13 inches in diameter, while the massive aluminum alloy wheels that surround them wear 225/40ZR18 tires in front and huge 295/30ZR18 meats in the rear.
With all the extra parts, the 4S is about 300 pounds heavier than the standard coupe. Porsche claims that 0-to-60 times suffer by no more than a tenth of a second, and our seat-of-the-pants impression seemed to back up that assertion. Driving both the Targa and the 4S back-to-back revealed noticeably heavier steering feel in the 4S, a likely consequence of the all-wheel-drive system, so if you like your 911s light on their feet, you might want to stick with the rear drivers.
Then again, the remarkable grip of the 4S is almost too good to pass up. It humbles you at every turn, cornering with such ease that you quickly learn that its ability far exceeds yours. Even with the heavier steering, the 4S can still be tossed around with little effort, a tribute to the precise suspension tuning and flexible engine.
Needless to say, both the Targa and the 4S are brilliant sports cars with performance capabilities far beyond the reach of the average driver. Lucky for us mortals, they're equally as enjoyable when piloted at less than full tilt. Choosing one or the other is largely a matter of your driving style, and maybe the latitude of your current residence. Although neither model represents the ultimate in performance or cache in the realm of the 911, both are fully capable of providing enough high-g thrills to last a lifetime a good value at any price.
Used 2002 Porsche 911 Convertible Overview
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Should I lease or buy a 2002 Porsche 911?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.