Everything You Need To Know To Understand The Porsche 911 Model Range

Car Culture

So, what the heck is the difference between an 'S' and a 'GTS' model?

Have you ever looked at the entire Porsche 911 lineup? It's like trying to order food off the menu at the world's greatest diner. There are a million good choices, but you still don't know what to get. Porsche currently sells 24 distinct variations of the 911 – we know, we checked. The 911 ranges from around $91,000 on the low end to around $293,000 on the high end, so understanding the lineup can make a big difference. The current 991 generation car will be replaced later this year by an all-new 992 generation, but before it does we wanted to help break down Porsche's dizzying array of 911 models. Here's everything you need to know to decipher today's 911 lineup.

The Bodystyles

The first thing you should know about the 911 is that it is available in three different body styles: Coupe, Cabriolet, and Targa. Most of the specialty models are only available as coupes, but we'll get to that later on. A coupe is exactly what you would expect - a fixed roof with no hidden tricks. The cabriolet is also pretty self-explanatory with a droptop that retracts without taking up any trunk space (because the trunk is up front).

The Targa is a bit trickier to explain because it has changed from generation to generation. A Targa is a semi-convertible car with a removable roof section with a full-width roll bar behind the seats. Some 911 Targa generations, like the 993, simply had a sliding glass roof instead of a simple removable one. The current 991 generation uses a complicated power system to remove a section of the roof and store it behind the seats. Why get a Targa over a cabriolet? Because it looks cool and is far less common.

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Carrera, Carrera S, and Carrera GTS

Things get a bit complicated with the Carrera models, which can also be ordered in S or GTS power levels, and as coupes and cabriolets. Each comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and models with a '4' in their name have all-wheel drive. You can also distinguish a 4 model by its wider hips and taillight bar across the rear. RWD and AWD can be combined with all Carrera trim levels, except for the specialty Carrera T (see below). Targas are treated as separate models and can only be ordered with AWD.

The base Carrera is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six producing 370 horsepower. The Carrera S brings the power up to 420 hp and the GTS to 450 hp. All of these 911s can be ordered with a seven-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch. The manual is more fun, but the PDK is quicker.

Carrera T

Porsche loves special lightweight editions, but these are typically reserved for the higher priced models in the 911 range. The Carrera T takes a base Carrera and strips as much weight as possible out of it to create the purest driving experience possible. Power is the same as a base Carrera at 370 hp, but this specialty model certainly feels more special to drive. This is the 911 to buy if you would like to be a bit more unique than the other lawyers in the office but don't want to spend the cash on one of the more expensive models.

Turbo and Turbo S

In the world of 911s, the Turbo has always been the ultimate speed machine. The 911 Turbo has been overlooked in recent years as variants like the GT3 and GT2 RS have taken over the spotlight because of their exclusivity and staggering performance. The Turbo name also makes a bit less sense now that all 911 models, besides the GT3, are turbocharged. All 911 Turbos come with AWD and PDK, making them the quickest off the line.

The base Turbo comes packing 540 hp from a 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-fix, while the Turbo S produces a meatier 580 hp. Porsche claims 0-60 mph times of 2.9 and 2.8 seconds for the Turbo and Turbo S respectively, but some outlets have tested them at just 2.5 seconds to 60 mph. Despite such savage acceleration, the Turbo is known as one of the quietest and most comfortable 911s, making it the ideal Grand Touring car. Both the Turbo and Turbo S are also available as Cabriolets, which lowers the 0-60 time by a minuscule tenth of a second. Porsche also introduced a Turbo S Exclusive Series, which ups the power to 607 hp.

GT3 Models

All 911s are special, but the GT models are really special. These are the most track-focused in the range for owners who like to race on the weekends. The GT3 is the most suited for public roads but is still powered by an awe-inducing 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six with 500 hp. Why use a naturally aspirated engine instead of a turbo one? Because it sounds better, of course. The 991.1 GT3 was only offered with a PDK, but demand from enthusiasts forced Porsche to offer a six-speed manual on the refreshed 991.2. Porsche also sells a Touring Package, which removes the rear wing for a more subtle look.

The GT3 is really a street car for the track, whereas the GT3 RS is more of a track car for the street. Here, the 4.0-liter flat-six produces 520 hp and additional weight is taken out. It is also PDK-only to keep it as fast as possible. The GT3 RS can also be ordered with a more extreme Weissach package that makes it even lighter. Porsche is also rumored to be working on a new Speedster model, which will be based on a GT3 for the first time in the specialty model's history.

GT2 RS

The 911 GT2 started off as a hardcore, RWD version of the Turbo. The current GT2 RS is the ultimate 911, powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-six producing 700 hp. Think of the GT2 RS as the best of the GT3 RS and Turbo mixed into one: a savage creation that managed to lap the Nurburgring in just 6 minutes 47 seconds (the quickest time ever for a rear-wheel-drive production car at the time). The GT2 RS is the most expensive 911 with a $293,000 starting price, but like most modern Porsche 911 GTs, the price has already gone up on the second-hand market due to high demand.

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