2015 Porsche 911 Review
Pros & Cons
- Masterful handling
- soulful engines
- indefatigable brakes
- daily-driver seat comfort and ride quality
- endless customization possibilities
- respectable fuel economy.
- Options can inflate the price in a hurry
- no manual transmission for GT3 or Turbo models.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2015 Porsche 911 may not be the fastest sports car for the money, but its timeless character and style make it easily one of the most desirable.
Few high-end automobiles do nostalgia as well as the 2015 Porsche 911. Of course, the current 911 is a technological tour-de-force, brimming with multifunction display screens and computer-controlled systems. But when you're charging down your favorite back road, hands at 9 and 3 on the upright steering wheel, with those five round gauges in front of you and the rear-mounted engine at full song, the 911 is pure mechanical harmony. You just don't get the same car-and-driver connection in other premium sports cars, and that's why the 911 continues to justify its lofty price of admission.
Remarkably, Porsche has managed to preserve the 911's unique character while adding new technologies and new configurations that broaden its appeal. If you've ever been in an old air-cooled 911, you know that these cars used to be raw performance machines, with minimal concessions to comfort and convenience. The current model, however, boasts an exquisitely trimmed cabin with all the accoutrements of a luxury car. The ride, too, is pretty civilized these days, ranging from tolerable on gritty surfaces to downright compliant (for a sports car, at least) on well-maintained roads.
Lest you get the idea that the 911 has been dumbed down for mass consumption, we'll be clear -- this is still one of the most capable sports cars in the world, not to mention the quickest 911 ever around Germany's famed Nurburgring circuit. Predictably, there's plenty of firepower to make that happen: The 911 range starts with the base 350-horsepower engine and then peaks at the Turbo S's 560-hp monster. In sum, you're just not going to find a sports car that better combines civility, performance and variety.
Choosing a car in this rarefied class is an enviable challenge. The 2015 Jaguar F-Type is a fresher British face with a scintillating optional V8. If you want something of a more exotic nature, the 2015 Audi R8 or BMW i8 will turn a lot more heads than a 911 Turbo. On the other hand, a value play favors the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 -- or perhaps the 2015 Nissan GT-R as an all-wheel-drive alternative. Expectedly, most of these cars have also made it as recommended choices in our 2015 Buying Guide. But if you crave that old-fashioned feeling of being one with the machine, the Edmunds.com "A" rated Porsche 911 Carrera S coupe, "A" rated 911 Carrera S convertible, and of course the "A" rated 911 Turbo, as ever, satisfy like few others.
2015 Porsche 911 models
The 2015 Porsche 911 is offered as a coupe, retractable-roof coupe (Targa) or soft-top convertible (Cabriolet) in a wide variety of models. Note that all 911s have a "2+2" layout with vestigial rear seats except the GT3, which is strictly a two-seater.
The base-model 911 Carrera starts with 19-inch staggered-width alloy wheels with summer tires, automatic bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors (standard on Cabriolet; optional on coupe), heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, four-way adjustable power seats (with manual fore-aft), a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker audio system with a CD player and a USB/iPod interface.
The 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 4/4S and Targa 4/4S feature all-wheel drive and wider rear fenders, but are otherwise equipped similarly to their rear-wheel-drive counterparts, as are the Cabriolet versions of the Carrera 4/4S. In case you're wondering, a rear-wheel-drive Targa is not offered for 2015.
The new Carrera GTS essentially slots between the S and the hard-core GT3 (see below). The GTS can be had with rear- or all-wheel drive and gets more power than the S along with the "4" variants' widened body. In addition to the S's features, the GTS also comes with 20-inch centerlock wheels, the Sport Chrono package (including dynamic engine mounts, a dash-mounted stopwatch, a Sport Plus driving mode, upgraded displays and launch control), a dual-mode sport exhaust system, tinted head- and taillight lenses, black exterior trim (wheels, exhaust, engine grille), a unique front spoiler and mirrors, Sport Plus seats, Alcantara upholstery and black aluminum cabin accents.
The 911 Turbo gets a major upgrade in the engine room, all-wheel drive, a power-retractable front spoiler, a fixed rear spoiler with articulating wing elements, various other aesthetic and functional body revisions, a rear-wheel steering feature (which both tightens up the car's turning radius and improves stability in quick transitions), a more advanced torque-vectoring rear differential, adaptive headlights, more supportive seat bolsters (or 10-way power seats with four-way power lumbar and memory settings), extended leather trim and a 12-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system.
The Turbo S turns up the boost and adds the Sport Chrono package, LED headlights with automatic high-beam control, active stabilizer bars (PDCC), ceramic-composite brake rotors (PCCB), 10-way power-adjustable front seats and carbon-fiber interior trim.
Both the Turbo and Turbo S are available in either coupe or Cabriolet body styles.
Finally, there's the track-focused two-seat 911 GT3 coupe, which is defined by its high-revving naturally aspirated engine. The GT3's standard features are broadly similar to those of the Turbo model, but there are some notable differences, including having rear-drive only, a fixed rear wing, dynamic engine mounts (which are separate from the GT3's optional Sport Chrono package), shorter PDK gear ratios with track-optimized shift programming and shorter-travel shift paddles for a more responsive feel.
Many of the higher-end items are available as options on lesser trims. Other add-ons include alternative wheel designs, power-folding mirrors, roof-rack mounting points, a sunroof (coupe only), keyless ignition and entry, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control (with automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation), 18-way adaptive sport seats, auto-dimming mirrors, voice controls, a 12-speaker Burmester audio system, a six-CD changer, satellite radio and HD radio.
As with any Porsche, you can also customize the 911 to your heart's (and hopefully wallet's) content, adding everything from colorful Porsche crests on the seats to leather trim on the climate vent slats. Those leather slats cost a cool $1,200, by the way, but they sure smell nice when the heat's on.
Performance & mpg
The 911 Carrera, Carrera 4 and Targa 4 models are motivated by a 3.4-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine rated at 350 hp and 287 pound-feet of torque, while the Carrera S, Carrera 4S and Targa 4S upgrade to a 3.8-liter six-cylinder with 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Opting for the Carrera S Powerkit (unavailable on Carrera/Carrera 4/Targa 4) increases output to 430 hp. The GTS comes standard with the latter.
The "4" in these model names stands for all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive is standard except on the Targa, Turbo and Turbo S. The base, S and GTS models start with a seven-speed manual transmission, but Porsche's PDK seven-speed automated manual is offered as an option. An automatic engine stop-start function (to conserve fuel when the car is stationary) is standard.
The rear-wheel-drive GT3's 3.8-liter engine boasts a 9,000-rpm redline as well as an astounding output of 475 hp and 325 lb-ft. No manual transmission is available, as it comes standard with the PDK transmission.
The all-wheel-drive 911 Turbo flaunts a turbocharged 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine that cranks out 520 hp and 487 lb-ft. The Turbo S raises the stakes to 560 hp and 516 lb-ft. The PDK transmission is the only available transmission on these models.
The Sport Chrono package (standard on the GTS and Turbo S) adds a hard-core Sport Plus driving mode that includes a racy shift program and launch control on PDK cars, while manual 911s with this package get an amusing "Gearshift Assistant" gauge that tells you when to shift.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Carrera Cabriolet with PDK and launch control turned in a 4.8-second 0-60 mph time. More impressively, a Carrera S coupe with PDK leapt to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds (again with the aid of launch control). Should you still have Maverick's "need for speed," a 911 Turbo S we tested blasted to 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds flat. The regular Turbo and GT3 should be just a few tenths slower.
Fuel economy for the 911 is generally respectable. The base 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 coupes are rated at an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) with the PDK transmission, dropping to 22 mpg combined (19 city/27 highway) with the manual. The Carrera S returns the same 22 mpg combined with either transmission. The Carrera 4S is rated at 22 mpg combined with PDK and 21 mpg combined with the manual. The Turbo and Turbo S drop to 20 mpg combined, while the GT3 brings up the rear at 17 mpg combined. Note that these numbers are for coupes; certain Cabriolet models vary a tick from their fixed-roof counterparts.
Every 2015 Porsche 911 is outfitted with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, and front seat side airbags that protect both the body and head. The Cabriolet features automatically deploying roll-over bars that ordinarily remain hidden behind the rear seats.
Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional. The optional adaptive cruise control feature is bundled with a forward collision mitigation system that first issues audible and visual warnings, then automatically applies the brakes if no action is taken.
In Edmunds brake testing, a 911 Carrera S stopped from 60 mph in a face-distorting 98 feet, while a Carrera S Cabriolet required just 5 feet more. The Turbo S with the optional carbon-ceramic brakes also stopped in just 98 feet.
The right engine for your 2015 Porsche 911 is a matter of personal taste, as there's not a bad apple in this barrel. Although the base 3.4-liter flat-6 doesn't really wake up till you get past 4,000 rpm, exploiting that peaky power band is gratifying in its own right, and the noises are pure Porsche magic. If you want more midrange punch, the S- and GTS-spec 3.8-liter engine provides a palpable upgrade without sacrificing any high-rpm thrills.
As for the Turbo and Turbo S, they're just dumbfoundingly fast, though their engines sound far less appealing in normal driving. As long as you're not the kind of purist who thinks an automatic GT3 is blasphemous, then the GT3 gives you the best of both worlds -- wicked acceleration and a glorious 9,000-rpm redline. Speaking of PDK, it's lightning-quick and nearly flawless in all situations, though we still feel the seven-speed manual fosters a tighter bond for drivers so inclined.
For everyday driving, the 2015 Porsche 911 won't ever be confused with a luxury coupe. The ride quality can be surprisingly stiff if you've got the big wheels and standard suspension. But the available adaptive dampers go a long way toward delivering a genuinely livable ride. The cabin is reasonably quiet at speed, solidifying the sense that the 911 is a world-class grand-touring machine.
But you really need to hit up your favorite road or local track day event to have the 911's performance heritage shine through. The steering is quick and precise, and overall the 911 gives you a nearly unparalleled sense of control and engagement. It works better the harder you drive it. Even the Turbo, with its extensive amount of chassis and powertrain technology, feels alive. Turn into a corner and the Turbo's nose just digs in, bites down and yanks the car toward the apex, then hurls you out the other side with freakish efficiency.
As expected of Porsche, the 911 offers ample headroom and legroom in its snug front seats. Those seats can be specified in a few different forms, with varying degrees of adjustability and lateral bolstering, but even the base chairs provide superb support for both long-distance and enthusiastic driving.
The rear "seats," however, are very small; most 911 owners know them better as cargo shelves. Still, they're big enough to fit small children, and that does give the 911 a practical advantage compared to two-seat-only rivals. The front trunk (remember, there's an engine in the back) measures a paltry 5.1 cubic feet. But in our year-long test of a 911 Cabriolet, we generally found that it holds more stuff than you think it might.
Despite the limited cargo space, the 911's thoughtful interior layout and modern amenities make it well suited to daily use. Navigation, smartphone and audio functions are easily accessed and operated through both the touchscreen interface and the numerous physical buttons that line the elevated center console, and there's also a handy stalk on the steering column that acts as a redundant multifunction controller.