Porsche’s 911 needs little introduction. The teardrop-shaped sports car with the rear-mounted engine has defied vehicular convention since 1965, becoming a performance icon in the process. Even in entry-level Carrera guise, the 911 punches above its considerable price point in performance, and it’s achingly pretty as well as technically brilliant. The lineup includes two turbocharged flat-sixes; rear- and all-wheel drive; manual and dual-clutch-automatic transmissions; and coupe, cabriolet, and Targa body styles.
Embarrassment of choice, incredible performance in any form, sweet to drive.
Expensive; options can make it dizzyingly so.
The benchmark for cars with oddly located engines and sports cars in general.
What’s New for 2018?
Aside from new headlights and taillights, the 2017 911 looks essentially the same as it did when it was introduced for 2012. That sameness belies a major change hiding in the engine bay, where last year’s naturally aspirated 3.4-liter (Carrera) and 3.8-liter (Carrera S) flat-six engines have been replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six offered in two strengths. Carreras have 370 horsepower while S models boast 420 horsepower; both iterations are 20-hp stronger than their predecessors. On a less exciting note, every 911 has an improved infotainment touchscreen.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
As impressive as the base Carrera’s performance may be, we’d spring for the 420-hp Carrera S to get its burlier engine, upgraded brakes, and fancier wheels. It helps that the leap from Carrera to Carrera S costs “only” $14,000, which seems like a lot until you consider that the base 911 costs $92,150. The Carrera S nets you:
• An extra 50 horsepower
• 20-inch wheels with summer tires
• Electronically controlled limited-slip differential
• S badge that signifies superiority over “base” Carrera buyers
If you’re planning on driving your 911 year-round in a northern state, the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 or 4S models are worth a look. We’d keep our 911 rear-drive for purity’s sake, and skip the PDK dual-clutch automatic in favor of the more involving (and standard!) seven-speed manual gearbox. The $2090 Sport Chrono package is a must, bringing a dashtop stopwatch and a handy drive-mode selector on the steering wheel, while the $2950 Sport Exhaust System brings out the flat-six engine’s raspy song. That may sound like a lot of gear, but it barely plumbs the depths of Porsche’s agonizingly tempting options list.