The 2014 Porsche 911 is Porsche's signature sports car. Known to some as the 911 and to others as the Carrera (Porsche uses both names), this model covers a wide swath of trims and body styles, from the base 911 up to the coveted GT3 and Turbo S models.
While Porsche tends to lean more toward evolution than revolution as it redesigns its products, the newest 911 Carreras appear to have only minor exterior updates despite major interior and mechanical changes. Last year's update brought a completely refinished and decidedly upgraded interior, along with a new 7-speed manual transmission.
There's no question that today's Porsche 911 is the most luxurious 911 ever built, but it hasn't come without a few technological gremlins. In reviewing a 911 S in 2012, for example, we experienced six phantom check-engine lights, all of which went out once we turned the car off and restarted it. The dealership technicians were unable to identify any issue, which leaves us wondering how they'd repair these electronic glitches.
What's New for 2014?
New models updates include the 911 Turbo, Turbo S and GT3, with the Turbo and Turbo S in cabriolet form, as well. A 50th Anniversary model is also new for 2014.
What We Like
Raw sporting ability; luxurious interior; classic 911 profile; extensive dealer network
What We Don't
Expensive; costly options; impractical back seats; relatively common
The entry-level 911 comes with a 3.4-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine that's good for 350 horsepower. The 911 S has a slightly larger 3.8-liter engine that produces 400 hp. A newly developed 7-speed manual transmission comes standard in both cars, and the PDK dual-clutch automatic is optional.
We're not sure how often shoppers in this segment seriously consider fuel economy, but the 911 receives middling-to-decent figures. The base 911 Carrera and Carrera S with the PDK transmission are rated at 19-20 miles per gallon city/27-28 mpg hwy. The foul-weather-friendly Carrera 4/4S models are rated between 18-19 mpg city/26-27 mpg hwy.
Turbo models send the fury of a 520-hp turbocharged, horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine to all four wheels, with Turbo S models doing the same with an even more powerful, 560-hp version of the same engine. Fuel economy drops as low as 16 mpg city/24 hwy for the Turbo S Cabriolet, not that most people capable of affording one will likely mind paying for extra fuel.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Porsche 911 comes in 14 trims: Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera Cabriolet, Carrera S Cabriolet, Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, Carrera 4 Cabriolet, Carrera 4S Cabriolet, 50th Anniversary, GT3, Turbo, Turbo S, Turbo Cabriolet and Turbo S Cabriolet.
Most of the differences among the models reside in their performance as opposed to standard and optional equipment. Porsche provides an almost unlimited number of customization options, many of them adding 10s of thousands of dollars to the bottom line.
The 911 Carrera ($85,250; $97,150, Cabriolet), Bluetooth, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, HomeLink and iPod integration are all standard on the base 911, as are power windows, dual-zone climate control, 19-inch wheels, cruise control, heated side mirrors and keyless entry.
The Carrera 4 ($91,980; $103,880, Cabriolet) is similarly equipped to the Carrera but adds all-wheel drive.
The Carrera S ($99,850; $111,750, Cabriolet) adds a more powerful 400-hp engine, 20-in wheels, adaptive dampers and a torque-vectoring rear differential.
The Carrera 4S ($106,580; $118,480) is similarly equipped to the Carrera S but with all-wheel drive.
The Carrera 50th Anniversary ($125,050) gets a boost in horsepower plus more standard features, such as a power adjustable steering column and memory for the power seat, as well as some retro touches and unique interior and exterior trim.
The 911 GT3 ($131,350) adds a 475-hp engine and special track tuning for the suspension and steering.
The 911 Turbo ($149,250; $161,695, Cabriolet) offers 520 hp, a fix rear wind, all-wheel drive, rear-wheel steering, unique body and trim pieces, Bose audio and HID headlights.
The 911 Turbo S ($201,645; $194,895) is the ultimate Porsche, adding 560 hp and more standard features.
Many of the features standard on the upper trims are optional on the lower ones. Porsche 911 options include ceramic composite brakes, carbon fiber interior, upgraded leather interior including dashboard, vent surrounds and door panels, adaptive cruise control, active suspension management, heated steering wheel, adaptive sport bucket seats with natural leather, heated and ventilated front seats, power moonroof (glass) or sunroof (metal) and the Sport Chrono package -- and the list goes on for days.
With its nearly useless back seat, the safety features in the 911 focus on the driver and front-seat passenger. Both passengers have full-size head, knee and side airbags, as well as side-curtain airbags.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the federal government has crash-tested the 2014 Porsche 911.
Behind the Wheel
Everything about driving the Porsche 911 makes you feel like a rock star. No matter how you equip it, the car is an absolute thrill to drive with its aggressive power delivery and ultra-tight handling. Steering is also among the most direct that we've ever experienced, despite Porsche's inclusion of an electrically assisted steering system. Inside, the cabin is comfortable and easy to navigate, and the car is intuitive to maneuver on enthusiastic drives. Whether you're looking for a comfortable cruiser, an exciting weekend warrior or a dedicated track toy, the 911 works as a one-size-fits-all solution. That's if you have the budget, of course.
The only downside we see to driving a 911 is that the car feels larger and heavier than we expected. Porsche should be synonymous with small and light, but the 911 is neither.
Again, this all comes down to personal taste. If you're in the market for a scaled-down racer, it may be worthwhile to look at the Cayman S or the upcoming 2014 Boxster S. But if owning "the" Porsche is on your bucket list, the 911 is an easy choice.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 6 Series -- While not as aggressive as the Porsche, the BMW 6 Series offers a roomier and more comfortable interior in a generally sporty touring car.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray -- The Stingray delivers up more horsepower and more thrills than the base 911 cars but for a lot less money. It's a performance bargain in anyone's book.
The sweet spot is in the 911 S Cabriolet. With its 400 hp, legitimately premium interior and open-air experience, it's sure to give you a rush when you gun the accelerator, as well as a generally pleasant ride for longer trips. The only consideration here is price, because with a starting price around $112,000 and options that can push it well over $130,000, there are several interesting alternatives available. But for the Porsche faithful, it's a slam-dunk.