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2015 Porsche 911: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2015

The 2015 Porsche 911 is probably Porsche's most recognized and coveted sports car. Whether you call it a 911 or simply a Carrera (Porsche uses both names), this model covers a wide array of trims and body styles, including the base 911 and the coveted GT3, GTS and Turbo S models.

While Porsche tends to lean more toward evolution than revolution as it redesigns its products, the newest 911 Carrera models appear to have only minor exterior updates despite major interior and mechanical changes. A recent refresh included numerous interior improvements, 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. While 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 would repair these electronic glitches.

What's New for 2015?

A new GTS trim was added to the line, while a rearview camera was made available. Also new for 2015 is the return of the 911 Targa, which features an electronically retractable roof panel and standard all-wheel drive.

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

How Much?

$85,295-$215,000

Fuel Economy

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, while the GTS bumps the figure to 430 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 in the city and 27-28 mpg on the highway. The foul-weather-friendly Carrera 4 and 4S models are rated between 18-19 mpg city/26-27 mpg hwy. The GTS earns 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the manual transmission and 19/26 mpg with the automatic transmission. The 4 GTS earns a slightly lower 18 mpg city/25 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 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy for the Turbo S. However, most people capable of affording a 911 probably won't mind paying for extra fuel.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Porsche 911 comes in 19 trims: Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera Cabriolet, Carrera S Cabriolet, Carrera 4, Carrera 4S, Carrera 4 Cabriolet, Targa 4, Targa 4S, Carrera 4S Cabriolet, GTS, 4 GTS, GTS Cabriolet, 4 GTS Cabriolet, 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, and many of them add tens of thousands of dollars to the bottom line.

The 911 Carrera ($85,295; $97,195, Cabriolet) has standard Bluetooth, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, HomeLink, iPod integration, power windows, dual-zone climate control, 19-inch wheels, cruise control, heated side mirrors and keyless entry on the base 911.

The Carrera 4 ($92,095; $103,925, Cabriolet) is similarly equipped to the Carrera but adds all-wheel drive.

The Carrera S ($99,895; $111,795, Cabriolet) adds a more powerful 400-hp engine, 20-in wheels, adaptive dampers and a torque-vectoring rear differential.

The Carrera 4S ($106,625; $118,525) is similarly equipped to the Carrera S but with all-wheel drive.

The Carrera Targa 4 ($102,595) adds all-wheel drive and a targa roof.

The Carrera Targa 4S ($117,195) adds a more powerful engine.

The Carrera GTS ($115,195; Cabriolet, $127,095) adds the Sport Chrono package, PASM active damper suspension, bi-xenon headlights, Porsche Dynamic Light System and a sport exhaust.

The Carrera 4 GTS ($121,895; Cabriolet, $133,795) is the same as the GTS but with all-wheel drive.

The 911 GT3 ($131,395) adds a 475-hp engine and special track tuning for the suspension and steering.

The 911 Turbo ($151,995; $163,995, 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 ($183,695; $195,595) is the ultimate Porsche, adding 560 hp and more standard features.

Many of the standard features on the upper trims are optional on the lower ones. Porsche 911 options include ceramic composite brakes, a carbon-fiber interior, an upgraded leather interior and dashboard, vent surrounds and door panels, adaptive cruise control, active suspension management, a heated steering wheel, adaptive sport bucket seats with natural leather, heated and ventilated front seats, a power moonroof (glass) or sunroof (metal), the Sport Chrono package and more.

Safety

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 2015 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 ultratight 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 2015 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.

Audi R8 -- Audi's R8 costs about as much as a well-equipped 911 S, and it's just as athletic, too. Plus, the R8 has the exclusive appeal of much more expensive exotic cars.

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray -- The Stingray delivers more horsepower and more thrills than base 911 models, but for a lot less money. It's a performance bargain.

Used Aston Martin DB9 -- A previously owned 2012-2014 Aston Martin DB9 offers a thrilling ride and a bit more exclusivity than the 911 for about the same price.

AutoTrader's Advice

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 delivering 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. For the Porsche faithful, it's a slam-dunk.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Porsche 911: New Car Review - Autotrader