2008 Porsche 911 Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 1, 2008

The 2008 Porsche 911 has few peers in performance or in endurance.

The supercar enthusiasts at TheCarConnection.com read and researched a wide array of road tests to write this definitive review of the 2008 Porsche 911. The editors at TheCarConnection.com also drove the Porsche 911 and have added details and more driving impressions where they help you make a better buying decision.

The flagship of performance and heritage for the German automaker, the 2008 Porsche 911 comes in many flavors, all of them hot and fast. There's a base Carrera, four-wheel-drive versions, Cabriolet versions, higher-powered S and GT3 versions, and the king of the hill, the Porsche 911 Turbo.

The styling of the 2008 Porsche 911 needs no explanation. It's directly related to the earliest 911s of the 1960s--and surprisingly modern, not to mention a lot beefier than ever before. The trunk's in the front, the engine's in the back, and the roofline tents over the front passengers, dropping toward the back in a classic curve. Inside, the dash is cleaned up and reorganized a couple of years back, and it's the best dash ever, but small buttons still dominate the center stack of climate controls and the audio/navigation system.

Performance ranges from electrifying to shattering. The base 911 Carrera comes with a rear-mounted, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that generates 325 horsepower and 274 pound-feet of torque. Top speed is 177 mph, with 0-60 times just over 5 seconds. The Carrera S versions, meanwhile, take this performance up a notch with a 355-horsepower, 3.8-liter flat-six that cuts the car's 0-60-mph time to 4.6 seconds. There's a 911 GT3 edition this year with 415 hp and 0-60-mph acceleration of 4.1 seconds, too. The king of the hill is the 911 Turbo; with its turbocharged, 3.6-liter flat-six and 480 horsepower, it rockets to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. Fuel economy of all versions ranges from 16/23 mpg to 15/22 mpg, amazing figures for such high-performance cars.

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The 2008 Porsche 911 handles with brilliance. There simply isn't a better steering car on Earth. The ride is always comfortable, and the wheels never seem to be anything except squarely and firmly planted on the pavement. There's no practical way to approach the 911's grip limits on the street--more so for the all-wheel-drive models, which have even wider tires.

Porsche calls its convertible a Cabriolet, and in 2008, Porsche's fitted the ragtop with an impressively snug top with a heated glass rear window. Putting the top down is a one-button affair that has the whole thing snugly retracted in just a few seconds and back up in a few more.

The rear seats on any 911 are token gestures, not even large enough for small children. To compensate, Porsche offers a staggering array of options and custom features, including an active suspension, ceramic brakes, 19-inch wheels, and leather trim for nearly every surface.

Dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, while stability control is an option--unusual in a high-priced car.

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2008 Porsche 911

Styling

The 2008 Porsche 911 manages to make its 40-year-old silhouette look fresh and its interior inviting.

The Porsche 911 is one of the true icons in the automotive world, as well as one of the most recognizable and heralded forms in sportscar history.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com unanimously rave about the exterior styling of the 2008 Porsche 911, a "familiar Porsche look" that ForbesAutos says is "instantly recognizable."

The 2008 Porsche 911 lineup is extensive, and the styling ranges from conservatively devilish on the base 911 Porsche Carrera to downright menacing on the Turbo and GT models. Edmunds lists the available trim levels as "Carrera, Carrera S, GT3, Turbo and GT2" and notes that "the Carrera and Carrera S can be had in three body styles," which include a standard "coupe and convertible ('Cabriolet')," along with the "911 Targa 4" that comes "with a large power-sliding glass roof." The GT2 and GT3 models both come only as a coupe, while the Porsche 911 Turbo is "available in coupe and Cabriolet form," according to Edmunds.

Cars.com writes that the exterior of the base Porsche 911 Carrera models is "nearly devoid of extraneous trim," and the "low, smooth-bodied 911 looks the part of a serious performance machine." The fearsome styling of the 911 Porsche Turbo includes "an LED-bearing bar across both outboard portions of the lower front air dam" and "twin gills behind each door," along with a "forward-canted spoiler" and "lower body work," according to Cars.com. Edmunds finds that visual changes for the GT3 include "a wider rear body and track" and "unique front and rear fascias," while Motor Trend writes that the GT2 gets "Audi R8-like LED light bars" and "a purer, more appealing prow," thanks to the deletion of the fog lamps. On the 2008 Porsche 911 Targa, ForbesAutos reviewers find that "all Targas have polished aluminum trim that follows the arc of the roofline" and note that the "extra chrome fits the more ostentatious persona Porsche seeks to give the 911 Targa."

The tremendous praise heaped on the Porsche 911 is not limited to the exterior. Reviewers also love what Car and Driver describes as the "great interior" on the 2008 Porsche 911. Edmunds says that the "driver-centric Porsche 911 interior features a single-pod gauge cluster," though ConsumerGuide remarks that those "gauges are closely placed and may seem daunting at first." Even aspects of the interior that might be considered drawbacks in other cars are justified in the Porsche 911. For example, ForbesAutos says that the "911 feels more utilitarian inside than the average luxury car--but this is by design, to keep the focus on the joy of driving." The one criticism of the interior that did arise in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com comes from ConsumerGuide, which comments "many switches are undersized and hard to decipher."

10

2008 Porsche 911

Performance

The 2008 Porsche 911 is a purebred performance machine.

The Porsche 911 is a tried-and-true sportscar, and performance comes before all else on this German beast.

The 911 Porsche lineup offers several different engine options, though all are variants of Porsche's signature flat-six powerplant. Edmunds describes the lengthy engine list as including a "3.6-liter, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that produces 325 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque" on the base Porsche 911 Carrera, while the "Carrera S has a 3.8-liter version of the flat-6 rated for 355 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque," and "an optional Carrera Power Kit for S models bumps power up to 381 hp." Both the 2008 Porsche 911 Turbo and the 911 Porsche GT2 use a "3.6-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine" that Car and Driver says produces 530 hp in the GT2, as opposed to 480 hp in the standard Turbo. The GT3 models of the 2008 Porsche 911 are powered by a "high-revving six-cylinder engine" that "yields 415 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque" from its 3.6-liter displacement, according to Cars.com.

Acceleration is the name of the game for the Porsche 911 lineup, and Edmunds writes "every 911 can perform the 0-60-mph sprint in fewer than 5 seconds, with the Turbo and GT2 doing it in well under 4." Furthermore, they add "top speed approaches 200 mph for the GT3 and Turbo and exceeds that in the GT2." ConsumerGuide chimes in, saying that the "torque-rich engines give any model strong thrust for all situations."

All of the engines on the 2008 Porsche 911 come mated to one of two available transmissions. Edmunds states "all 911s come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while all trims except the GT3s and GT2 also offer a five-speed Tiptronic automatic as an option." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com rave about the transmissions, especially the manual. ConsumerGuide deems the manual "slick" and "precise." Even the high-end Porsche 911 GT2's "control efforts are fluid and easy," in the words of Motor Trend. One feature that reviewers of the Porsche 911 GT2 especially love is the launch control, which Car and Driver says is "a way of taking off with maximum force while preventing mechanical meltdown." The launch control system essentially works the clutch and matches engine speed for you, providing optimal acceleration launches with minimal hassle. Edmunds also adds that "the 911 Carrera and Carrera S can be had in either rear-wheel- or all-wheel-drive ('4') versions," though the Targa 4 "comes only in AWD form." They conclude by remarking that "the GT3 and GT3 RS are rear-wheel-drive only," while "the Turbo features all-wheel drive" and "the GT2 is a rear-driver."

Performance cars, particularly ones as capable as the 2008 Porsche 911, usually demand significant amounts of fuel to power their thirsty engines. However, the Porsche 911 lineup isn't obscenely abusive to the environment, and ConsumerGuide reports that "a manual-transmission Carrera 4 averaged 17.2 mpg in mostly highway driving," while a "manual-transmission rear-drive Carrera S averaged 17.6 mpg." The official EPA estimates for the Porsche 911 lineup range from 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway for the 911 Turbo with automatic transmission up to 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for a manual-transmission Porsche 911 Carrera.

Acceleration may be blistering, especially on turbocharged Porsche 911 models, but the 911 really shines when it comes to handling. ConsumerGuide finds that the Porsche 911 is "balanced, grippy, and stable," and it offers "quick, informative steering." Other reviewers unanimously agree, with Edmunds writing that the 2008 Porsche 911 "turns in crisply and with precision, and is largely unaffected by broken pavement." Ride quality is equally impressive, and even on the Porsche 911 GT2, Motor Trend declares that "ride quality in either mode is pain-free." ConsumerGuide agrees and calls the ride "firm but seldom punishing." Further praise for the 2008 Porsche 911 falls on its brakes, which Edmunds says are "powerful and respond promptly in a linear fashion." ForbesAutos goes so far as to call the brakes "among the best on any car at any price."

8

2008 Porsche 911

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Porsche 911 lineup is quite comfortable up front and well built, but essentially useless for passengers in the back.

The 2008 Porsche 911 lineup offers very good front-occupant comfort and great overall quality, and it even boasts impressive cargo space, especially for its class.

Inside the cozy cabin of the 2008 Porsche 911, Cars.com finds that although they are "called four-passenger automobiles by Porsche, 911s have plenty of space for front-seat occupants, but backseat riders are in for a major squeeze." Other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com affirm that opinion, with Edmunds claiming that "large footwells and a tilt/telescoping steering column virtually guarantee that most drivers will be comfortable behind the wheel," but they also write of the backseats that "in a pinch, they'll work for small children, but no more than that." Up front, ConsumerGuide says "room is good" and the "911's seats hug without binding and are long-haul supportive." For extra comfort and support, ForbesAutos writes that Porsche 911 customers have the option of upgrading to Adaptive Sport Seats, which "improve both lateral support and overall comfort."

One area of concern on the 911 Porsche is the retractable roof on the Targa models, which ForbesAutos notes "reduces what little rear-seat headroom there is to begin with and could even smack a rear occupant in the head." It is also worth mentioning that both the GT3 and GT2 variants of the 911 Porsche do away with the rear seats altogether, in the interest of cutting weight.

The interior of the 2008 Porsche 911 also offers impressive cargo room, especially in Targa form. ForbesAutos claims that "the Porsche 911 Targa provides a surprising amount of cargo flexibility," thanks in part to the fact that "the rear seats fold forward to create a flat cargo floor" and the "lift-up glass hatch makes accessing this space much easier than on other 911 coupes." Edmunds writes that although the folding rear seats provide some storage space, "the 911's principal cargo area is located underneath the hood up front." Thanks to the rear-engine layout of the Porsche 911, the underhood storage compartment is free to hold "a couple of gym bags," according to ConsumerGuide, who also declares that overall cargo room is "great for a sports car." Inside the cabin, even the lightweight 911 Porsche GT2 retains "two swing-arm cup holders," which are present on all 2008 Porsche 911 models.

Porsche has a long history and reputation of producing high-quality vehicles, and the 2008 Porsche 911 lineup is no exception. ForbesAutos writes that "Porsche 911s are usually completely devoid of creaks and rattles," though they did notice "creaks when going over potholes" in their Porsche 911 Targa. Otherwise, they praise "plenty of engineering forethought" that goes into every 911 Porsche. ConsumerGuide recognizes the quality that comes with the Porsche badge, saying that "you pay plenty, but that's partly offset by solid construction." ConsumerGuide adds that "cabin materials are solid and mostly upscale," while Motor Trend raves about the standard "rich Alcantara" that adorns the interior of the GT2 and GT3 variants of the 911 Porsche.

Those lucky enough to drive a 2008 Porsche 911 will be treated to quite a bit of ambient noise, but most of it comes from "the engine's unique sound," which ConsumerGuide considers "music to an enthusiast's ears." One complaint from Automobile comes from testing the 2008 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, where they state that "when the turbos are on full boost, intake honk and turbo whoosh create a giant sucking sound that assaults your ears." Otherwise, most reviewers agree with ConsumerGuide when they say that there is "lots of engine and tire noise, but 911s are on par for ultra-performance sports cars."

8

2008 Porsche 911

Safety

The 2008 Porsche 911 has an excellent suite of electronic stability aids and a full complement of airbags, but no crash-test scores.

The 2008 Porsche 911 hasn’t been run into a wall intentionally by the government or by the insurance industry, but there’s no lack of safety gear in each one.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have passed on testing the 911, most likely because it’s a low-volume production car with a high price tag.

Nonetheless, the 911 comes outfitted with all sorts of modern safety gear. Cars.com reviewers note that "all-disc antilock brakes and six airbags--including seat-mounted side-impact airbags and head airbags that emerge from the windowsills--are standard" on the 2008 Porsche 911. Edmunds reviewers add that "traction control and stability control are included on all 2008 Porsche 911 models except the GT3," and the ultra-high-performance GT2 "uses a specially tuned version of Porsche's stability-control system," according to Car and Driver. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate high praise for the stability system, which ForbesAutos says "feels like a partner in driving fun instead of a big brother, working with the 911 so well that you can keep it turned on and let it enhance the experience."

Other than the standard safety features present on the Porsche 911, there is very little offered in the way of safety options. ConsumerGuide finds that a "rear-obstacle-detection system" is available on all 911 Porsche models except for the GT3 variants, and that system represents the full extent of available safety options. Aside from that, drivers have the option of turning the stability control off if they are feeling adventurous and want a purer driving experience.

The 2008 Porsche 911 is, in many ways, one of the best sportscars on the planet. However, when it comes to driver visibility, some problems arise on the Porsche 911 Targa models. On those versions, ForbesAutos says that "rear visibility while backing up with the top open can be challenging due to the darkly tinted glass and because of the way the retracted panel doubles up against the rear window." Visibility with the top up in the Porsche 911 Cabriolet models is likewise impaired, but on both the Cabriolet and the Targa models, the poor rear visibility can be mitigated by the aforementioned rear obstacle detection system that is available as an option.

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2008 Porsche 911

Features

From an available navigation system and Bose stereo to standard leather and automatic climate control, the 2008 Porsche 911 offers it all.

The 2008 Porsche 911 may be an incredible sportscar, but it also comes standard with a lengthy list of luxury features.

For those who demand even more luxury and personalization, Edmunds reviewers note, "Porsche offers up a dizzying array of expensive options."

While the standard features are not the same on all the various models of the 2008 Porsche 911, even the most basic Porsche 911 Carrera comes well equipped off of dealer lots. ConsumerGuide says that all 911 Porsches come with standard "air conditioning w/automatic climate control" and "tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel," along with "cruise control, partial leather upholstery," and full power accessories.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com also rave about the sound system, and ForbesAutos writes "the latest sound system really makes the best of the 911's tight cabin with nine well-placed speakers." An upgraded "Bose sound system" is standard on the Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo, according to ConsumerGuide.

Aside from the long list of standard goodies, the 911 Porsche boasts an extended roster of optional features. Edmunds writes that those options include "custom color schemes, different seats, upgraded stereos, custom leather trims and a choice of wood, aluminum and carbon-fiber accents." ConsumerGuide reviewers also mention that the 2008 911 Porsche Carrera Turbo comes with standard "full-leather upholstery." Other noteworthy features on the Porsche 911 include Porsche's Adaptive Sport Seats, which ForbesAutos says "improve both lateral support and overall comfort so much that they are worth it if you plan to spend a lot of time behind the wheel."

Edmunds reports that "a navigation system and a Sport Chrono package" are available, and "in addition to supplying lap times and records, the Sport Chrono option also remaps the electronic throttle for quicker response."

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9.2
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Styling 10.0
Performance 10.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 10.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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