2017 Porsche 911: Which spec is best?

By Daniel Gardner, 01 Aug 2017 Car Advice

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2017 Porsche 911: Which spec is best?

Which variant in the extensive Porsche 911 range offers the best balance of performance, value and features?

With the recent introduction of the GTS variants, Porsche’s 911 range has expanded to a whopping 20 options. Track stars and powerslide junkies will have already made up their minds regarding the motorsport-developed GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS, but what about the rest of the line-up that ranges from the entry Carrera to a limited Turbo S Exclusive?

With prices ranging from $220,900 to a hefty $590,400, rear- and all-wheel-drive options, convertible, coupe or Targa top, manual or PDK auto and a number of power outputs, here’s the simplified guide of what’s on offer from one of the world’s most recognisable sportscars.

Variants

At the entry level, the Porsche 911 range starts with the Carrera, which is available as both a coupe – the most affordable 911 - or a Cabriolet, which commands a $21,500 premium over the fixed-roof version. Standard fare for the Carrera is a rear-mounted 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six engine which sends 272kW and 450Nm to the rear wheels for 0-100km/h acceleration in as little as 4.4 seconds for the PDK coupe, or up to 4.8s for the manual convertible. For an entry-level variant, the Carrera is well equipped and includes leather upholstery, electric-adjust front seats, satellite navigation and a sunroof.

Technically, the 911 has a second row of seats but they can really only accommodate small children or more compact adults for only the shortest journeys. The space is a useful storage area, however, in addition to the front luggage area under the bonnet.

All versions except the Turbo family are available with a seven-speed manual gearbox or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic for an extra $5950, or $7390 when added to a GTS. All Turbo variants are fitted with the auto as standard.

The Carrera also comes with all-wheel drive, which adds $16,100 to the cost of the entry manual Carrera coupe and a “4” to the end of boot badge. Carrera 4 variants gain weight but the extra traction through the driven front axle increases acceleration.

For more performance, Porsche offers the Carrera S, which uses the same boxer engine but wrings out extra output to the tune of 309kW and 500Nm. Similar to the standard Carrera, the Carrera S can come with the all-paw transmission (Carrera 4S) and the Cabriolet or Coupe body styles. The 4S and variants above it introduce the so-called widebody, which brings a 44mm wider rear track and more plumped wheel arches to accommodate the offset wheels. Getting into a manual Carrera S coupe costs $256,000. Standard 19-inch wheels are upgraded to 20-inch versions, and sports suspension matches the extra performance.

The 0-100km/h acceleration time drops to as little as 4.0secs in the case of the auto Carrera 4S coupe, while the slowest variant is the manual Carrera S Cabriolet which does the dash in 4.5secs.

Still not enough performance? The newest GTS addition to the range blows the 3.0-litre even harder with a larger pair of turbos for peak performance of 331kW and 550Nm. As well as the extra oomph, the GTS adds 20-inch centre-lock wheels lifted from the Turbo, lowered suspension, a different bodykit and the Sport Chrono package that is available optionally on lesser variants.

If convertible motoring is your thing but you don’t want to sacrifice a solid roof for the fabric Cabriolet top, the Targa variant offers a clever hard-top folding mechanism and a unique look for the 911. The Targa is only available with all-wheel drive and in three variants – the Targa 4, which shares specification with the Carrera 4, a mid-range Targa 4S that aligns with the Carrera S, and the Targa GTS. Prices range from $258,500 to $327,490.

At the top of the 911 pile, the Turbo range represents the performance and luxury halo starting from $390,000 for the Coupe. It upsizes the turbocharged flat-six engine to 3.8 litres and a corresponding boost grunt – 397kW/710Nm. To cope with the prodigious power, all Turbo variants are all-wheel drive with the PDK automatic transmission also standard. Optioning your Turbo with a convertible roof takes the price up to $411,500.

Similar to the Carrera, the Turbo also comes as a performance-enhanced Turbo S, which gets 427kW and 750Nm from a tuned-up version of the same 3.8-litre engine. Performance peaks with the Turbo S Coupe, which can dash to 100km/h from standstill in 2.9secs, while the convertible version takes a tenth longer.

For those with an even bigger budget, the limited-run Turbo S Exclusive Series offers an extra touch of exclusivity with bespoke material and colour options, plus active suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, rear wheel steering and the Sport Chrono package as standard. The Exclusive Series also gets an extra 19kW of power but the 0-100km/h sprint is unchanged. Production will be limited to 500, and the price carries a hefty $128,800 premium over the ‘standard’ Turbo S Coupe.

Our pick

With so much variety within the 911 range it is almost impossible to pick just one variant to do it all, so we will narrow it down to two.

With a more flexible budget, the GTS Coupe offers a lot of 911 for the money. Not only does it get the most potent version of the 3.0-litre, but it is also the only way you can have the sexy widebody and rear-wheel drive for ultimate driver involvement. The compelling package is completed by race-derived centre-lock wheels, the more purposeful bodykit and sportier interior and seats as standard. Driving purists will also appreciate the most powerful 911 you can get with a manual gearbox.

Australia's favourite? Of the numerous variants and combinations on offer, the Carrera S Coupe with PDK auto is the most popular.

In reality though, the entry-level 911 is an exceptionally well-rounded sportscar and often overlooked in the shadow of its more powerful and expensive siblings. Its 272kW is still ample to have a lot of fun with behind the wheel, especially when combined with the 911’s sharp chassis. The most affordable version also gets the unmistakable 911 shape that will keep you glancing over your shoulder every time you walk away.