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Now in its seventh generation, the Porsche 911 is still recognizable by its iconic shape, even if it has grown since the last generation. he lineup continues to offer a wide range of models, from the base Carrera on up to the Turbo S and GT3, each with its own character, and each a representation of what remains one of the best sports cars on the market.
It wouldn't be a new year without at least one new 911 model. For 2015, the 911 coupes and convertibles are joined by a Targa body style. Absent from the lineup for some time, the Targa has been given an upgrade to automatic opening and closing. Instead of requiring the driver to install and store the cloth roof section manually, the 2015 Targa's back half splits open in an elaborate orchestration of moving pieces to do the job. It's quite something to watch, and easily the most complex roof system available today. All Targa models are equipped with all-wheel drive, adding to their all-weather versatility.
The lineup continues with Carrera and Carrera S models at the low end, both of which are available with all-wheel drive as well. The 'base' Carrera uses a 350-horsepower flat-six engine, while the S models get a 400-horsepower version.
From there, it's the 475-horsepower GT3, and then a pair of turbocharged models, the 520-horsepower 911 Turbo and 560-horsepower Turbo S. Both employ standard all-wheel drive and include almost all of the equipment that's optional on lesser 911s.
All models except the GT3 and Turbo range offer a choice of a seven-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed PDK paddle-shift dual-clutch automatic. The GT3, Turbo, and Turbo S are only available with a PDK gearbox.
While the exteriors and performance options vary widely across the 911 range, the cabins are nearly identical throughout the lineup. Whichever 911 you choose, the front seats are comfortable and roomy, with an open-feeling cabin thanks to a large windshield and side windows. The rear seats are best suited to extra cargo and occasional child-ferrying duties, as leg room is minimal, and the 911's sloping roof compromises head room, too. A front trunk area holds a fair amount of luggage.
Gas mileage is rather good for a high-performance sports car family, with up to 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway possible. Even the 560-horsepower 911 Turbo S avoids being a gas guzzler, at 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash tested the 2015 Porsche 911 or any of the current-generation 911s. Despite the lack of data, Porsche's reputation for sound engineering, advanced safety devices and electronics, and the 911's innate dynamic responsiveness should help avoid crashes or minimize injury.
New items for 2015 include a handful of small refinements, an extra wheel option for Carrera and Targa models, and a host of new paint and upholstery choices. Front and rear parking sensors with a rearview camera are now available on Carrera and Targa models, while GT3 models now feature Bluetooth as standard equipment, whereas it was formerly a no-cost option.