Porsche has been a household name for generations now. Whether it’s been a dream of racing circuits and checkered flags, or canyon drives and fabulous dinners, there are few things in this world that have been so universally symbolic of success as one of Porsche's sports cars. And, throughout that time, only one car has been consistently adored by each generation: the Porsche 911 Carrera.
Over the years, the 911 has evolved from a lightweight, sporty, rear-drive coupe into a car offered in many flavors–all to meet the refined tastes of many lifestyles. Yes, one can still have a pure, purpose-built performance machine in the base 911 coupe, but Porsche makes it easy for owners to choose a car that can live in virtually any climate–as well as virtually any racetrack–without sacrificing the cachet and joy of owning the one of the greatest driving machines in the world.
More than that, though, is that Porsche is a brand focused solely on delivering the world’s most advanced performance engineering to the world’s discerning customers. It’s a promise guaranteed in every 911 Carrera purchase.
For the Driving Purist: The Porsche 911 and Carrera S
For the shopper who wants the most intimate relationship between driver and sports car possible, the standard Porsche 911 Carrera and more powerful Carrera S models are designed to fit like a glove.
At its core, every 911 comes with near-perfect balance and a horizontally opposed ‘flat’ six-cylinder rear-mounted engine. The entry-level Carrera (another name for the 911) has 3.4-liter version of that engine that produces 350 horsepower, and the option of either an exceptional seven-speed manual gearbox, or Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It is this standard model that best reveals the 911 sports car's core qualities. It’s a highly capable, highly comfortable, highly durable car that can handle aggressive driving and gridlock traffic with grace, ease, and poise, and this purest version of the 911 is well-suited for driving enthusiasts looking for a precise, balanced sports car, with all the cachet of owning the Carrera.
That driving exhilaration is only amplified by choosing an S model, which uses a slightly larger 3.8-liter flat-six-cylinder engine to amp the output up to 400 horsepower. The 911 S is also the most powerful version of the Carrera currently offered with the seven-speed manual transmission, so shoppers who want the most engaging drive experience won’t need to look any further than this high-performance model and its variants.
For the Sunshine Soldier: The Porsche 911 Cabriolets
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding driving experience than one with the top down and the music up, and shoppers who live in climates with extra sunshine can have the 911 in its convertible form, too.
The cabriolet models make the most of good weather by offering their drivers the open-air experience of driving a convertible. The soft convertible top retracts quickly to let the sun and wind into the cabin, or can be put back in place with the easy push of a button, even as the car in motion at low speed. Even better, the soft top doesn’t change the handsome exterior profile of the 911 design with the top up, meaning that you don’t lose any of the car’s beauty as a compromise on rainy days.
The cabriolet models are available on nearly every trim of the 911, including all-wheel drive, turbocharged, and S versions of the Carrera.
For the Winter Warrior: The Porsche 911 4, 4S, and Targa Models
Many sports cars on today’s market find themselves left in the garage as inclement weather sets in during winter months, leaving shoppers to break out the SUVs in the cold. However, drivers who don’t want to compromise their sports car delights when the weather gets shaky will be glad to know that the Porsche 911 offers all-wheel drive on several of its models.
You can spot an all-wheel-drive 911 by its badging; just look for the number ‘4’ on the tail. The system offers extra traction on slippery surfaces, thanks to a space-aged torque vectoring system that can send variable amounts of power to any given wheel, based on the driving conditions. All-wheel-drive can be had on most 911 Carrera models, including the base 911 4, the 911 4S, their cabriolet versions, and the 911 Targa, which was all-new for this year.
The 911 Targa is the connoisseur’s choice in the lineup. Here, the engineering of the 911 goes even further beyond the bits and pieces that make the car move quickly, by blurring the lines with art and design. Rather than a full convertible top, the Targa uses cloth, glass, and metal to create an open-air experience for the passenger’s without changing the silhouette of car.
This is accomplished with a soft fabric roof directly overhead, with a full glass rear that actually opens, tucks away the cloth room, and reattaches, all with the each push of a button. The Targa is a sports car that harkens back to some of the earliest 911 sports cars on the road, intended for customers who lived in colder climates but want some of the open-air joys of convertible ownership–or simply those who valued design above all else. Now, it’s a car that offers all of those things with an added layer of attention to detail unrivaled by any other manufacturer.
For the Driver Who Wants It All: The Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S
While a Porsche sports car may look a little more subdued than a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, in many cases, that can be part of the charm. And better even, handsome, conservative styling and all-out performance aren’t mutually exclusive with the Porsche 911.
At the top of the 911 lineup is a special pair of cars reserved for those with the desire for one of the fastest, most exclusive sports cars in the world–and the budgets to have exactly that.
The Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S models are powered by twin-turbocharged versions of the 3.8-liter flat six, and produce 520-hp or 560-hp, depending on which model you choose. Both come standard with the PDK dual-clutch automatic for quick shifting, as well as all-wheel-drive to keep all of that power on the road at all times. Here, the 911 Turbo and Turbo S make use of every technology available in the Porsche toolbox, ensuring the fastest speeds (with a 0-60 of only 2.7 seconds in Turbo S models).
The Turbo models drive the 911 out of sports car territory and into legitimate supercar territory, with speeds that rival vehicles like the Audi R8, Lamborghini Huracán, Ferrari 458, and McLaren 650S. However, the Porsche 911 remains perhaps the most classic, most understated vehicles in their class, allowing them to compete for performance without begging for unnecessary attention on the road. They’re for the speedsters out there who want blistering performance and the absolute most from their cars, without feeling the need to be too flashy about it.