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The Complete Porsche Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained


June 14, 2019 Buying Guides By

Porsche is a German luxury and sports car manufacturer, based in Stuttgart and founded in 1931. The company is best known for its powerful, precise-handling sports cars, most famously the iconic 911. While capable on track, Porsches distinguish themselves by being entertaining on the street and comfortable enough for daily driving.

This century, Porsche has broadened its lineup to include four-door vehicles — both SUVs (the Macan and Cayenne) and sedans (the Panamera). This model expansion has greatly increased sales, making the company more stable and profitable.

Volkswagen has had close ties with Porsche since its founding. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle, and that car’s rear-engined legacy still endures to this day in the 911. The companies are closely aligned in business, as well; Porsche and Volkswagen formed an “integrated automotive group” in 2011, and many Porsche vehicles share platforms, parts, and engines with Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, and other VW brands.

While Porsche only produces five models, the lineup can get confusing quickly. As of this writing, Porsche is selling two generations of the 911, leaving buyers to choose between 28 different trims. Efforts at continuity can also create confusion: Three-digit model numbers like 911 and 718 that were once tied to actual generations now have become historical designations; the new 911 is known internally as the 992 model, while the 718 Cayman and Boxster are known as the 982 inside the company and among die-hard fans. And Porsche still offers “Turbo” trims, even though almost every Porsche now uses a turbocharged engine.

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Brand Terminology

Air-Cooled: 911s through the late 1990s had air-cooled engines, which ran air over the engine oil to cool the engine rather than using a water-based radiator. These engines are generally simpler, lighter and sound better than newer water-cooled engines, and vehicles with them are highly valued by Porsche purists. Porsche replaced them with water-cooled engines for better performance, better reliability, and to meet modern emissions standards.
Base MSRP: This is the starting point for negotiations. A common term, but worth reiterating here; Porsche’s option tree is notoriously large and steeply-priced.
Boxer Engine: An internal combustion engine with horizontally-opposed pistons, used most commonly by Porsche and Subaru. It helps to lower the car’s center of gravity. Production is usually more expensive than a V-shaped engine, however, which is why it is used less commonly.
Carrera: “Race” in Spanish. Porsche initially used the term to celebrate class wins in Mexico’s Carrera Panamericana in the 1950s. Porsche has used the term over the decades to designate racing-oriented models, or to make base models sound more racing-oriented.
PDK: Short for Porsche Doppelkupplunggetriebe, or “Porsche dual clutch gearbox.” Known for its exceptionally quick shifts. It is the only transmission choice on top-tier 911s, as well as on all Panameras.
RS: Stands for “rennsport,” which means “racing” in German.
Targa: A retro body style that is part coupe, part convertible. The top roof panel retracts, but a distinctive roll bar remains in place. Porsche started offering it in the 1960s when it was feared the U.S. might outlaw convertibles for safety reasons.
Tiptronic: An automatic transmission with a manual shifting mode.
Turbo: The term “Turbo” originally designated a turbocharged engine. Now that almost every Porsche is turbocharged, “turbo” means a powerful, high-performance version of that particular model.

Video: 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Review

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Buying Guide

718 Cayman

The 718 Cayman is Porsche’s entry-level sports car. It’s a two-door, two-seat, mid-engined coupe. With its exquisite balance and handling, it’s recognized as one of the best driver’s cars on the market; like BMW’s M3, it’s the sort of gold standard other automakers aspire to beat. The latest generation moved from flat-six engines to turbocharged four-cylinder motors. The base Cayman uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer-four making 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. The $69,300 718 Cayman S upgrades to a turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four making 350 hp and 309 lb-ft. Both trims can be paired with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed PDK.

Body Style: Coupe

Models:

• Cayman
• Cayman S

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer-four
• Turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four

Base MSRP: $56,900

718 Boxster

The “Boxster,” a word that’s a combination of “boxer” and “roadster,” predates the hardtop Cayman. The more affordable car helped keep Porsche solvent in the late 1990s. The Boxster is a mechanical sibling to the Cayman, but for the soft top and the $2,100 price difference.

Body Style: Convertible

Models:

• Boxster
• Boxster S

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer-four
• Turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four

Base MSRP: $59,000

718 Boxster / Cayman GTS

The GTS is the performance model of the 718, available as both a Cayman and a Boxster. The 2.5-liter boxer-four gets tuned up to 365 hp, a hair below the base 911. It’s available with both a manual transmission and a PDK. The PDK has more torque (317 lb-ft versus 309 lb-ft) and accelerates more quickly.

Body Style: Coupe, Convertible

Models:

• Cayman GTS
• Boxster GTS

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four

Base MSRP: $80,700

911 Carrera

The 911 is Porsche’s legendary sports car. It’s a two-door, two-plus-two seat, rear-engine performance vehicle. The Carrera is the base model 911. The Carrera has 370 hp, while the Carrera S provides a bump to 420 hp for an extra $14,000. The “4” versions have all-wheel-drive instead of rear-wheel-drive, for an extra $6,900. The Carrera comes as both a coupe and a convertible, known as a Cabriolet. All Carreras can be fitted with either a manual or a PDK.

Body Style: Coupe, Convertible

Models:

• Carrera/Carrera 4
• Carrera S/Carrera 4S
• Carrera Cabriolet/Carrera 4 Cabriolet
• Carrera S Cabriolet/Carrera 4S Cabriolet

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $91,100

New 911 Carrera S  (992-generation)

Porsche launched the new 992 generation of the 911 with the Carrera S and Carrera 4S, selling them concurrently with the outgoing 991 generation. The new models get an additional 23 hp (for a total of 443 hp) and 22 more pound-feet of torque (for 390 lb-ft) and accelerate quicker than the old ones: The 991-gen 911 Carrera 4S goes from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, while the 992 model will do it in 3.4 seconds. It only comes with an eight-speed PDK at this time, but a manual is expected to be added in the near future.

Body Style: Coupe, Convertible

Models:

• Carrera S/Carrera 4S
• Carrera S Cabriolet/Carrera 4S Cabriolet

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $113,300

911 Carrera T

The Carrera T is a specialized gem made for driving enthusiasts. It uses the same engine as a base Carrera but, for an additional $10,000, drops some weight, adds performance features, and stiffens the suspension. A buyer can also delete the rear seat. The Carrera T can come with a seven-speed manual or a PDK. This car is meant to provide the purest 911 driving experience, even though you could get a more powerful Carrera S for $3,000 more.

Body Style: Coupe

Models:

• Carrera T

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter Boxer 6

Base MSRP: $102,100

911 Targa

The Targa is a retro bodystyle variant of the Carrera. It splits the difference between coupe and convertible with a retractable roof panel that leaves a distinct roll bar and rear window erected. Porsche began using the Targa top in the 1960s. The Targa only comes with AWD.

Body Style: Targa

Models:

• Targa 4
• Targa 4S

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP:$110,300

911 Carrera GTS

The 911 Carrera GTS is a performance variant slotting above the Carrera S. It can come as a coupe, convertible, or Targa. Buyers can chose between RWD and AWD (except the Targa GTS, which is AWD only) and between a manual or a PDK. The 3.0-liter flat six is tuned to 450 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. The Carrera 4S GTS with the Sport Chrono package and PDK can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds.

Body Style: Coupe, Convertible, Targa

Models:

• Carrera GTS/ Carrera GTS Cabriolet
• Carrera 4 GTS/ Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
• Targa 4 GTS

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $120,700

911 Turbo

“Turbo” should mean less now than it used to, since almost every Porsche uses a turbocharged engine. But Porsche has kept the historic moniker for its high-performance ranges. The 3.8-liter flat six is tuned up to 540 hp for the Turbo and 580 hp for the Turbo S. Every Turbo can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds or less with the Sport Chrono package. The Turbo range shoots for raw performance over tradition: There is no manual option, and all Turbos are AWD.

Body Style: Coupe, Convertible

Models:

• Turbo / Turbo Cabriolet
• Turbo S / Turbo S Cabriolet

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $161,800

911 Speedster

The 911 Speedster is a 1,948-unit limited run of the 991-generation model. It’s a tribute to the classic Porsche 356, a lightweight open-top sports car. The Speedster caters to Porsche purists with a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat six making 502 hp and delivering a 3.8-second run from 0-60 mph. A manual transmission is the only option. Base MSRP is $274,500, more than $100,000 more expensive than the 911 Turbo.

Body Style: Convertible

Models:

• 911 Speedster

Engines:

• 4.0-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $274,500

911 GT3

The GT3 is a track-tuned high-performance version of the 911. It comes in two trims: the GT3 (500 hp, 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds) and the GT3 RS (520 hp, 0-60 mph in 3.0 sec). Both employ a 4.0-liter naturally-aspirated flat six. The GT3 RS only has a PDK, but in large part due to American 911 enthusiasts, the GT3 can come with that or a six-speed manual.

Body Style: Coupe

Models:

• GT3
• GT3 RS

Engines:

• 4.0-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $143,600

911 GT2 RS

The 911 GT2 RS is Porsche’s range-topping rear-engined sports car. It’s the most powerful factory-built Porsche 911 ever, producing 690 hp from a twin-turbo 3.8-liter boxer six. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in 2.7 sec and reach a top speed of 211 mph. It’s only available with a PDK transmission and RWD. It’s the most expensive 911, with a base price of $293,200 — more than three times the cost of the base Carrera.

Body Style: Coupe

Models:

• GT2 RS

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter boxer-six

Base MSRP: $293,200

Panamera

The Panamera is Porsche’s front-engined, four-door luxury sedan. The base Panamera uses a 330-hp 3.0-liter V6 and is available in RWD and AWD. The S versions get a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 that puts out 440 hp and accelerates to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. There are three Panamera body styles: a standard fastback sedan; the Executive, which has an extra-long wheelbase for more leg room; and the Sport Turismo, which is basically a station wagon. All Panameras come with an eight-speed PDK.

Body Style: Sedan, Executive Sedan, Wagon

Models:

• Panamera
• Panamera 4/4 Sport Turismo/4 Executive
• Panamera 4S/4S Sport Turismo/4S Executive

Engines:

• Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6

Base MSRP: $86,300

Panamera GTS

The Panamera GTS is a higher-performance Panamera trim. It’s available in both the standard fastback and Sport Turismo wagon styles. The twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 produces 453 hp and 457 lb-ft and propels the car to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds with the Sport Chrono package.

Body Style: Sedan, Wagon

Models:

• Panamera GTS/GTS Sport Turismo

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8

Base MSRP: $128,300

Panamera Turbo

The Panamera Turbo is the most powerful conventionally-powered model in the Panamera range. With 550 hp and 567 lb-ft from its V8, the AWD Turbo gets to 60 mph from a stop in 3.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 190 mph. It’s available in regular, Executive and Sport Turismo versions.

Body Style: Fastback Sedan, Wagon, Executive Sedan

Models:

• Panamera Turbo/Turbo Sport Turismo/Turbo Executive

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8

Base MSRP: $151,500

Panamera E-Hybrid

Porsche offers two E-Hybrid ranges of the Panamera. The Panamera 4 range uses a 2.9-liter V6 and an electric motor, putting out 457 hp and 516 lb-ft combined. It accelerates to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and earns 23 mpg combined. The Panamera Turbo S range, which starts at more than $80,000 more, utilizes a 677-hp 4.0-liter V8 and an electric motor, getting to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and hitting a 192 mph top speed.

Body Style: Fastback Sedan, Wagon, Executive Sedan

Models:

• Panamera 4 E-Hybrid/E-Hybrid Sport Turismo/E-Hybrid Executive
• Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid/E-Hybrid Sport Turismo/E-Hybrid Executive

Engines:

• Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 w/14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery
• Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 w/14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery

Base MSRP: $102,900

Macan

The Macan is Porsche’s entry-level compact crossover SUV. It is Porsche’s cheapest and best-selling model by far. The base Macan has a 248-hp 2.0-liter inline-four and goes from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The $58,600 Macan S brings a 348-hp 3.0-liter V6 and a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds to the table. All models have a PDK transmission. Porsche plans for the next-generation Macan (if it’s still called that) to go fully electric.

Body Style: SUV

Models:

• Macan
• Macan S

Engines:

• Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four
• Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6

Base MSRP: $49,900

Cayenne

The Cayenne is Porsche’s midsize luxury SUV. Pure gasoline engines come in three trims: the base, with a turbo V6 making 335 hp; the S, with a twin-turbo V6 making 434 hp; and the Turbo, with a twin-turbo V8 making 541 hp and launching it from 0-60 mph in 3.9 sec. The Cayenne also comes in a 477-hp E-Hybrid version, with EPA fuel economy estimates estimates pending. Notably, the Cayenne uses an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission instead of the Porsche PDK.

The Cayenne may be the Porsche vehicle that shows the carmaker’s integrated, parts-sharing relationship with the broader VW Group better than any of the rest. It shares all three engines with Audi, in one form or another, and it’s built on the same VW MLB Evo platform as the Audi Q8, the VW Touareg, the Lamborghini Urus and the Bentley Bentayga.

Body Style: SUV

Models:

• Cayenne
• Cayenne S
• Cayenne Turbo
• Cayenne E-Hybrid

Engines:

• Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
• Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 w/14.1 kWh lithium ion battery
• Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8

Base MSRP: $65,700

Cayenne Coupe

Yes, the word “coupe” has been stretched to fit a four-door SUV. The Cayenne Coupe is a trendy new variant of the Cayenne, offering a sporty, rakish back end on an SUV. The trim levels and mechanicals are the same as the standard Cayenne, but the cost goes up. In its defense, it looks more like a “typical Porsche” than the regular Cayenne, and selling these is what helps pay for the Porsche sports cars you like.

Body Style: Fastback SUV

Models:

• Cayenne Coupe
• Cayenne Coupe S
• Cayenne Coupe Turbo

Engines:

• Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
• Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8

Base MSRP: $75,300

 

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