- Performance ranges from great to fantastic
- Modern take on classic good looks
- Comfortable, quiet interior
- Fair gas mileage for performance class
- Day-to-day practicality
- Electric power steering feel isn't quite 100%
- Can get expensive in a hurry
- Rear seat is cramped
The 2015 Porsche 911 is an enthusiast's dream, with excellent handling, comfort, and performance at every step through its range.
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.
2015 Porsche 911
It's much bigger these days, but the Porsche 911's outline still carries the charm of the original.
In its latest iteration, the 911 recalls the generations that came before it while managing to look somewhat different and new.
A low, sloped nose, rising front fenders capped by round-ish headlights, and the fastback coupe profile all say "911," despite the changes. The convertibles mimic the same shape, while the Targa model's brushed-metal basket handle harkens back to the Targas of the '70s. A wider front track balances out the front-rear proportions, and the longer wheelbase helps stretch the car's lines into more elegant arches and curves. All-wheel-drive models feature wider hips to accommodate wider tracks, while also accentuating the car's Coke-bottle shape.
Porsche offers numerous aesthetic add-ons to personalize the car to a customer's taste. Items include spoilers, body kits, different fascias, clear taillight lenses, accessory wheel designs, and decals.
Inside, the Porsche 911 has, for the first time, a large center console. he basic design was first seen in the Panamera sedan, and here is executed with perhaps greater effect. While there are a lot of buttons on the central spine, it's much sleeker and more intuitive than the Panamera's layout, while the dash, steering wheel, and other details fit perfectly with the 911's sporting aptitude and daily-driver comfort.
2015 Porsche 911
The 911 is unbelievably talented on the track and on the road, even in its plushest PDK Cabriolet models.
There are nearly as many engines available in the 911 as there are 911 variants; the base engine, found in the Carrera, Carrera 4, and Targa 4, is a 3.4-liter flat-six that packs 350 horsepower thanks to direct injection and a free-revving nature. The Carrera S, 4S and Targa 4S get a 3.8-liter six good for 400 horsepower. Both engines can be paired with either the seven-speed manual or the PDK transmission.
With the PDK, the Carrera coupe gets to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, while the Carrera S does it in 4.3 seconds; Carrera 4 models eke out 60 mph in as little as 4.5 seconds, and the C4S does it in 4.3 seconds. Cabriolet models add about 0.2 second to those times, while the Targa 4 and 4S add a few more tenths.
Add the Sport Chrono package, which includes launch control, and you take 0.2 seconds off each car's 0-60 mph run. The Sport Chrono package is also available on the base Carrera--and as the name indicates, a key element of the package is a stopwatch on the dash that ties into the car's computer to enable lap timing and other functions. Top speeds clock in at 179 mph and 188 mph respectively for base and S models, while Carrera 4 and 4S models top out at 177 and 185 mph. The Targa 4 can hit 175 mph, while the Targa 4S reaches 183.
The rear-wheel-drive GT3 hits 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds thanks to its 475-horsepower, normally aspirated 3.8-liter flat six-cylinder engine and 3,152-pound curb weight. Top speed is 195 mph, and the GT3 will lap the Nordschelife in less than 7 minutes 30 seconds.
The 911 Turbo and Turbo S put a particularly fine point on Porsche's refinement and evolution of the 911 chassis, delivering supercar performance in a very approachable, easy-to-drive package. The 911 Turbo boosts output to 520 horsepower with a pair of turbochargers added to the 3.8-liter engine, rocketing to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds with the aid of launch control and standard all-wheel drive. The Turbo S takes it a step further, with 560 horsepower and 2.9-second 0-60-mph runs. Top speed for the Turbo is 196 mph; the Turbo S can reach 198 mph.
The available PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) system offers dynamic suspension response to the road and driving conditions through a series of settings from Comfort to Sport Plus.
Porsche's advanced Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) is also available. The PDCC system adjusts the car's roll stiffness through the use of anti-roll bars.
Handling in the newest batch of the 911s is fantastic and amazingly neutral. Porsche has evolved away the older models' tendency to oversteer, using a combination of chassis tweaks and electronics.
In fact, the 911 range offers a stability and balance that any sports car would envy, even at the Turbo S end of the spectrum. Accurate steering, a nimble suspension, brisk acceleration (startlingly so in the Turbo and Turbo S), and fantastic brakes, the 911 is almost the perfect package. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available, further reducing brake fade and improving pedal feel in track situations.
If there's a weak spot, it's the electric power steering system, which, while accurate and nicely weighted, doesn't match the feel offered by older 911s, which were equipped with hydraulic power steering.
2015 Porsche 911
Comfort & Quality
You might be shocked at how comfortable, quiet, and practical the Porsche 911's cabin can be.
With leather upholstering the seats, across the dash, and many other places in the cabin, the 2015 Porsche 911 feels and looks more like a typical luxury sedan than a bare-bones sports car.
The front seats are comfortable and easy to get into. Four different sport seat styles are offered: base with manual adjustments, Plus with added bolstering and 4-way power, 14-way power seats, and 18-way power seats with adjustable bolsters. Rear-seat leg room is minimal to non-existent, however, depending on the height of front-seat occupants and where they have their seats located.
Gauges are simple and clear, with a circular color screen located in the rightmost pod that can show a variety of information, including navigation directions. Adding to the elegant feel, aluminum accents highlight key design elements, while most of the controls and functions are delegated to high-quality plastic switchgear. Porsche's customization menu extends to almost every surface in the 911 interior, offering embroidery, extended leather, and a variety of colors, textures, and finishes.
The front trunk is deeper and more spacious than you might expect, but it's best suited to soft-sided luggage, and nothing too large. Enough space for a weekend for two, but that's about it. The cabin itself offers very little storage, with small door pockets and limited center-console space. Unoccupied rear seats make a great location to store extra items or additional baggage.
2015 Porsche 911
No crash-test scores exist, but there's a plethora of safety tech built into the current 911.
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 other 991-generation model. It's common for expensive, low-volume sports cars to miss out on official crash testing.
The latest 911 packs a complement of standard and available electronic safety features to help assuage worried shoppers.
Porsche Side Impact Protection (POSIP) adds thorax airbags, an upward-inflating airbag in the door panel, and reinforcements in the doors to help minimize injury in a side-impact situation.
Porsche Stability Management (PSM) is the brand's name for its stability and traction control systems, which can vary their level of assistance depending on the driving mode chosen, though all levels function to help keep the car pointed along the path the driver intends.
All PDK-equipped models include a standard adaptive cruise control system, which uses front-looking radar to maintain distance from traffic. Even when the cruise control is not in use, the radar can spot road obstacles or other hazards and prime the braking system to improve stopping distances.
The 911's innate handling and braking capability also help drivers avoid road obstacles or other cars, and with or without optional ceramic composite brakes, the high-speed stopping ability of the 2015 Porsche 911 is excellent.
2015 Porsche 911
You can have just about anything you want in a 911--wrapped in leather, even--but beware that dizzying, long options list.
The 2015 Porsche 911 is well-equipped even in its most basic form, and a very long list of available features can enhance performance, luxury, comfort, and technology--but at a price.
Standard equipment on all 911 models includes Porsche Communication Management, which combines audio, navigation, and phone-integration functions; a seven-inch touchscreen interface; DVD/CD/MP3 audio; keyless entry; USB connectivity; an iPod interface; Bluetooth; and automatic two-zone climate control. A sliding/tilting sunroof is available, as is the ParkAssist system with front and rear parking sensors and an overhead display of nearby obstacles.
The Burmester surround-sound system is available as an upgrade, and it sounds fantastic. With the Burmester, you'll get 12 channels pumping a total of 821 watts, including a 300-watt subwoofer, plus Air Motion Transformer tweeters and some of the best sound we've heard in a car. A Bose system is also available for about a third of the price, though we'd pick the Burmester if money is no object.
Many more individual options are also available, though if you get too wild with the add-ons, the bottom line will quickly grow far beyond the $82,100 (Carrera) and $96,400 (Carrera S) base prices.
The most notable new option for 2015 Porsche 911 models is an available ParkAssist package with sensors front and rear and a rearview camera. It may be hard to believe or a model that offers so many features, but this is the first time a rearview camera has been offered on a 911. There is also a new 20-inch wheel option for Carrera and Targa models, as well as a new Sport Chrono package for the GT3 that includes the Porsche Track Position App.
2015 Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 is very easy on fuel, for what it is, and for what it can do.
For all the performance offered by the various models in the 2015 Porsche 911 range, fuel economy does not at all suffer. Porsche has always taken great care to produce some of the most environmentally friendly sports cars, at least as far as EPA testing is concerned.
The base Carrera with PDK is the most efficient 911 offering, at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway--very respectable figures for any 350-horsepower daily driver. Adding 50 horsepower and all-wheel drive, as in the Carrera 4S, with the seven-speed manual transmission, reduces the score slightly to 18/26 mpg. The other Carrera coupe and convertible variants, as well as Targa models and those equipped with the seven-speed manual transmission, fall somewhere within those bookends.
The Turbo and Turbo S return identical EPA scores of 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, while the GT3 is the least efficient, scoring just 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway.