KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
Few cars wear the mantle of automotive icon as gracefully or as righteously as the Porsche 911 Carrera. The basic Carrera lineup now includes Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet body styles, rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations and standard as well as more powerful and sportier "S" variants. While the Carrera4 all-wheel-drive models add an extra measure of cornering stability and all-season confidence, even the standard Carreras offer dramatic proof that Porsche has overcome virtually every potentially negative characteristic one might ever have associated with a rear-engine vehicle. Dynamically and stylistically, the 911 in any guise maintains an intangible mystique that is not matched by such competitors as BMW 6 Series, Cadillac XLR and Lexus SC 430.
You'll Like This Car If...
If owning the world's best all-around sports car has always been one of your life goals, a 911 Carrera of any stripe could well be the vehicle for which you've been longing. Steeped in tradition, this thoroughly modern version of Porsche's seminal offering delivers a spectacularly well-sorted combination of power, handling and braking, while remaining very livable as an everyday driver.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Cabin space is modest in all 911 Carrera models, a fact that may well put off taller drivers. Minimalist rear seating, limited cargo capacity and the purposefully firmish nature of the suspension tuning, particularly in "S" versions, also could be potential deal breakers.
What's Significant About This Car?
In a largely carryover year, all 911 Carreras gain a standard tire pressure monitoring system. Meteor Grey Metallic paint and restyled 19-inch Turbo-design alloy wheels join the options list, while the available navigation system adds maps for Mexico and Puerto Rico.
The 911 is a true sports car, and displays all of the pluses and minuses that go along with the breed. Even the base models are exhilaratingly quick, and all have surprisingly neutral handling characteristics that make it hard to believe you're in a rear-engine car. Most owners will find the slightly taut suspension tuning totally acceptable, especially given the outstanding level of control it provides, although some may feel the "S" types with their even stiffer settings and lower-profile tires are a bit too harsh on anything but ultra-smooth road surfaces. In keeping with its high-performance character, Porsche designed the 911's available all-wheel-drive system to always send at least 60 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels.
VarioCam Plus Technology
Introduced on the 2001 911 Turbo, computer-controlled VarioCam Plus technology varies both the timing and lift of the intake valves to improve the engine's performance and fuel efficiency over its entire operating range.
Sport Chrono Package
Linking the throttle, the Porsche Stability Management system and the Porsche Active Suspension Management, the available Sport Chrono Package permits any 911 model to be driven even more aggressively, and includes a supplemental stopwatch on the dash that automatically keeps tabs on lap times and segment intervals for those times when the car is on a race track.
Although the ignition key still slides into a switch located in its traditional position on the left side of the dash, the rest of the 911's interior is decidedly contemporary. Its driver-oriented look and feel is highlighted by highly legible gaugeswith black faces on standard Carreras and silver-white on "S" modelsa tilt/telescoping steering column and firmly supportive but quite comfortable bucket seats. The diminutive rear "buckettes" are marginal even for kids, but the backs fold flat to offer a bit more stowage space. Despite jettisoning the conventional spare tire for a can of sealant and an air compressor, capacity in the 911's forward-positioned trunk is still a modest 4.5 cubic feet.
While its details have changed over time, the 911's basic silhouette remains a universally recognized form. The current generation boasts a wider body, bolder fender flares and more upright headlamps than its predecessor but retains the now-signature rear decklid spoiler that automatically deploys at 75 miles per hour. All Carrera S variants are fitted with 19-inch alloy wheels in place of the 18-inch rims used on standard Carreras, and with even wider and lower-profile performance tires. Targa models have an oversized sliding glass roof panel, while Cabriolets are crowned with a fully lined and insulated one-touch power top that can be raised or lowered in about 15 seconds and at speeds up to 30 mph.
Notable Standard Equipment
Both the Carrera and Carrera S include, as standard equipment, a full array of power assists, keyless remote entry, automatic climate control, leather seating surfaces, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering column, six-speed manual transmission, the comprehensive Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system, anti-lock disc brakes and an anti-theft immobilizer. The "S" models add larger front brakes, the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), an upgrade from 18-inch to 19-inch wheels and bi-xenon headlamps. All coupes have a power sunroof, all cabriolets a one-touch power top and Carrera4 models are fitted with full-time all-wheel drive. Front, front-side and door-mounted head-protection airbags are standard across the entire 911 lineup.
Notable Optional Equipment
A key upgrade for all Carreras is the multi-faceted Sport Chrono Package that can keep tabs on lap times and intensify throttle response and tweak suspension settings when paired with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system. Also offered are new 911 Turbo-type 19-inch two-tone forged alloy wheels and competition-inspired Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB). The S contingent can be further bolstered with a Power Kit that bumps engine output from 355 to 381 horsepower. Other extras include three different seat upgrades, a voice-activated navigation system and a Bose premium audio package, as well as numerous cosmetic tweaks, headed by full leather upholstery and a variety of available interior trim accents, in carbon fiber, aluminum look-stainless steel and dark and light wood.
Under the Hood
All 911 Carrera and Carrera S models are fitted with a rear-mounted flat-six boxer engine that uses Porsche's VarioCam Plus variable cam timing and lift technology to optimize responsiveness and operating efficiency. The Carrera's DOHC 3.6-liter makes 325 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while output figures for the larger 3.8-liter version in the S models jump to 355 and 295, respectively. Either engine can be matched with the standard six-speed manual transmission or five-speed Tiptronic S automatic with shifter buttons mounted on the steering wheel spokes. Regardless of drivetrain configuration, any member of the 911 clan can hit 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds or less and top out at 170-plus mph.
325 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)
355 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (manual), 19/25 (automatic)
Pricing on the prodigious 911 Carrera lineup starts with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $73,260 for the base Carrera Coupe and runs all the way to $99,460 for a Carrera4 S Cabriolet. The optional Tiptronic S automatic adds $3,420. All variants are currently selling for full MSRP, but Fair Purchase Prices that represent prices consumers are actually paying at any given moment can differ substantially, so click on the Fair Purchase Prices to compare. Resale values are strong across the board, with Cabriolets topping the list, followed by Coupe and Targa body styles. That puts their resale values virtually equal to a Chevrolet Corvette, slightly behind a BMW 6 Series and significantly better than a Lexus SC 430.