Used 2016 Porsche 911 Convertible Review
Big, worthwhile changes are in store for next year's 911 Carrera and Targa models. But the 2016 Porsche 911 is still a divine performance car.
Hold your prancing Stuttgart horses before racing out to get a 2016 Porsche 911. You see, if you're interested in a Carrera or Targa model, there are big, worthwhile updates coming for 2017's models that you'll most likely want, including those to the engine, transmission, suspension and infotainment features. At the same time, though, the 2016 911 is hardly akin to yesterday's leftovers. In fact, even sans changes, it is one of the finest performance cars on the planet. Heck, given its surprising practicality, let's nix the qualifier. It's just one of the finest cars, period.
This group is but an icicle on the tip of the 2016 911 iceberg.
For starters, no other sports car matches the 911's breadth of powertrain choices. Of course, every 2016 911 has a flat-6 positioned over the rear wheels, but various applications of high-revving natural aspiration or twin turbocharging results in outputs ranging from 350 horsepower up to 560. At the same time, not every 911 is cut from the same performance cloth, as some are comfortable and friendly enough to drive every day, while others are realistically only suited to a track. All offer interior space and visibility that put virtually every other high-end or exotic sports car to shame, while the convertible model doesn't suffer as much from the same sort of practicality and performance trade-offs that many other convertibles do.
If for some reason none of the 911 models work out for you, there is an equally wide selection of competitors to choose from. Just for starters, there is the more flamboyant but less practical and precise Jaguar F-Type, as well as the more exotic Audi R8 and Mercedes-AMG GT Coupe. Then there are the BMW i8, Chevrolet Corvette, Nissan GT-R and Porsche's own Boxster and Cayman, along with pricier Ferraris, Lamborghinis and McLarens. Most of these boast more flamboyant style, more extreme performance or even value for the money. But none can match the so perfectly well-rounded nature of the 2016 911.
trim levels & features
The 2016 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 models, which are strictly two-seaters.
The base model 2016 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 power-adjustable front 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 port with a media player interface. The convertible features a power-operated soft top and wind deflector.
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 and 4S and Targa 4 and 4S feature all-wheel drive and wider rear fenders, but are otherwise equipped similarly to their rear-wheel-drive counterparts, as are the convertible versions of the Carrera 4 and 4S.
The Carrera GTS, Carrera 4 GTS and Targa 4 GTS essentially slot between the S/4S and the hard-core GT3 (see below). In addition to the S's features, the GTS also comes with 20-inch center-lock 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, simulated suede upholstery and black aluminum cabin accents.
Can't decide between a Carrera S or a GT3? That's why Porsche offers the middle-ground GTS trim.
The 911 Turbo gets a major engine upgrade, 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 at high speeds), 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.
Then 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.
And finally, there's the pinnacle of the 911 range, the GT3 RS. It strips out additional interior trappings to save weight and adds a bigger, more powerful engine, unique wheels (20-inch front, 21-inch rear), a wider track, body modifications including extra functional vents, a larger racecar-style wing, carbon-ceramic brakes, lightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic body panels, fixed-recline carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic seats and interior trim, and a special GT3 RS steering wheel. The radio and air-conditioning can be removed to save weight.
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.
The engine might be in the wrong place, but the Porsche 91 is still utterly brilliant.
performance & mpg
The 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera, Carrera 4 and Targa 4 models are motivated by a 3.4-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder (flat-6) engine rated at 350 hp and 287 pound-feet of torque, while the S and 4S variants receive a 3.8-liter flat-6 with 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Opting for the Carrera S Powerkit increases output to 430 hp. The GTS comes standard with the 430-hp 3.8-liter engine.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on all models except the Targa, Turbo and anything with "4" in its name. 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. The GT3 RS has a 4.0-liter flat-6 with a slightly lower redline (8,250 rpm), but boasts 500 hp and 338 lb-ft of torque. No manual transmission is available on either GT3 model, as they come 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 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 be yearning for more, a 911 Turbo S we tested blasted to 60 mph in just 3.0 seconds flat. The regular Turbo and GT3 models should be just a few tenths slower.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is actually very respectable for a sports car. Carrera and Targa models get between 21 and 23 mpg combined depending on engine, body style and transmission. Even the Turbo and Turbo S dip down to only 20 mpg combined. The GT3 and GT3 RS are the guzzlers of the bunch at 17 mpg combined and 16 mpg combined, respectively.
Every 2016 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 convertible 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 2016 Porsche 911 is a matter of personal taste, as all are pretty great. 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. The GT3 RS is best suited to racetracks and trained professionals — or else it would properly be described as "insane."
For everyday driving, the 2016 Porsche 911 won't ever be confused with a luxury coupe. The seven-speed manual's clutch is heavy and the ride quality can be surprisingly stiff (the available PASM adaptive suspension dampers help somewhat). Going with the PDK transmission gets you lightning-quick shifts and nearly flawless behavior in all situations, though we still feel the seven-speed manual fosters a tighter bond for drivers so inclined.
Forget about comfort and easy-to-drive considerations for a moment, though. 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.
Interior space and visibility are exceptional for a sports car.
The rear "seats," however, are very small; most 911 owners know them better for the seatbacks that flip down to become useful cargo shelves. Still, they're big enough to fit small children or smaller dogs, 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. Also, unlike with other convertibles, that front trunk means that you don't lose any cargo space versus the coupe version.
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.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.