2018 Porsche 911 Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 1, 2018

The 2018 Porsche 911 is a superlative sports car that has defied its age. It’s a classic, but performs better than nearly any newcomer to its arena.

The 2018 Porsche 911 has had an unusually busy year. Near the end of its current model cycle, the 911 has added 911 Carrera T and GTS models, world-beating 911 GT2 RS and GT3 editions, a Turbo S Exclusive option, and a half-million-dollar GT3 Touring Package that tempts the collector market.

In that list is the fastest 911 ever made.

That’s a flurry of activity for one of the oldest names in the sports-car business.

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We rate the range at a 7.6 overall with the implicit admission that it shouldn’t do well on our scale. It comfortably seats only two people, it has no crash-test data, and its styling hasn’t fundamentally changed since it was new for our fathers. And yet here we are. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year’s news is the staggering depth and breadth that the 911 range now covers. Starting from the base Carrera, the 911 is offered in Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera T, GTS, Turbo, Turbo S, Turbo S Exclusive, GT3, and GT2 RS trim levels. Prices range from roughly $93,000 to about $300,000 for a 911. Yeah, it’s like that.

Regardless of trim level, the 911 offers similar looks that evoke the original. Inside, the cabin is classic, but updated for modern tastes—and growing bottoms.

For most shoppers, there are turbo 911s and then turbo Turbo 911s. The base engine is a 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-6 that makes 370 horsepower, but output grows from Carrera S to Carrera GTS to 420 hp and 450 hp, respectively.

Opt for a 911 Turbo and you can have up to 580 hp from a 3.8-liter turbo-6, and the grand tourer is as breathtaking in its speed as it is in its starting price: more than $160,000.

If your flavor is a GT3 or GT2 RS model, your performance is limited mostly by your bravery—and our respect is unlimited.

In practice, the 911 is a two-seater with decent room for gear. Porsche’s reputation for building the “everyday supercar” is wholly applicable if the RSVP is for +1 only.

Base coupes are well-equipped with power adjustable front seats, an eight-speaker audio system, rearview camera, 19-inch wheels, 4.2-inch multifunction display for drivers, xenon headlights, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, and an Alcantara headliner, among other things. In every version, Porsche’s meticulous fit and finish is in full view; no detail is overlooked in a 911.

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2018 Porsche 911

Styling

Not much has changed with the Porsche 911’s shape, for better or worse.

The Porsche 911 has stayed vigilant to its iconic shape.

Although it’s classic, the 911 isn’t the best-looking supercar on the road today. Tomorrow, when the others have faded with style’s evolving taste, perhaps today’s 911 will look better. Until then, it’s just “same as.” We give it a 6 out of 10 for a good interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Last year, Porsche offered a slight refresh to the 911’s look with modified rear taillights and other horizontal elements that help the sports car look lower and wider. You’d be hard-pressed to spot those details unless the car is standing still—we hope that’s not often.

Inside, the dash is adorned with good looking trim and materials that help keep the 911 fresh. A multifunction display and center touchscreen don’t dominate attention like they may in other cars. Rather, Porsche’s screens complement the traditional layout with modern touches. A new 911 is due soon, but we’re not sure it’ll stray far from the successful formula.

That has us wondering: Next to the automaker’s world-beating shapes like the 918 or Mission-E concept, what would a 911 look like if it didn’t have to conform to its inherent 911-ness.

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2018 Porsche 911

Performance

The 2018 Porsche 911’s performance can’t be underestimated—in any trim level.

The 2018 Porsche 911 is excellent at every stop, whether as a classic coupe, high-performance grand tourer, or track-ready supercar.

The depth and breadth of the 911 is unrivaled, and this year it only gets bigger. A 911 Carrera T offers a stripped-out version of a base coupe that will be a classic in the coming years, a GTS is sandwiched in the 911 lineup to offer a hunkered-down coupe with performance that few can match, and a world-beating GT2 RS offers blistering speed that no one can match.

Starting from an average of 5, we give the 911 points above average for it all: power, handling, brakes, transmission, and superlative performance. And as far as performance is concerned, the 911 is perfect in our eyes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For most shoppers, there will be turbo Porsches and turbo Turbo Porsches. That’s because last year the automaker moved to a nearly all-turbocharged lineup with a base 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-6. In Carrera versions, the turbo-6 makes 370 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque and in Carrera S variants that output is boosted to 420 hp and 368 lb-ft.

Opting for forced induction has its benefits; the 911’s power comes on lower and longer, and results in a 0-60 mph sprint in 4.0 seconds in the base Carrera, or 3.7 seconds in the Carrera S, when equipped with the automatic transmission, which Porsche calls PDK. (Don’t ask us what it stands for, it’s 21 letters long.)

One step above Carrera S versions is this year’s new Carrera GTS that offers 450 hp and, perhaps most importantly, a 7-speed manual transmission with active exhaust and less sound-deadening material to let Porsche’s six-piece orchestra permeate the cabin unfettered.

In the same way that the GTS offers a purist’s take, the new 911 Carrera T does the same with even less. It’s saddled with the base, 370-hp mill, but less weight and fewer amenities to separate driver from road. We haven’t yet driven these models, so stay tuned.

The 911 Turbo isn’t the same terrifying exercise it used to be. The Turbo and Turbo S models represent Porsche’s best expression of a grand touring car, with 540 hp and 580 hp respectively from their 3.8-liter turbocharged flat-6. Its prowess on a race track can’t be underestimated—the cars rocket to 60 mph in around three seconds, but its long-distance comfort and prolific speed are even more impressive.

Race-ready Porsches are available in GT3 and GT2 RS guise, and their performance can’t be understated. GT3 versions get a naturally aspirated 3.8-liter version of the flat-6 that is an instant classic; GT2 RS versions cost $300,000 and are a relative bargain because they’re quicker than $1 million supercars from recent memory.

Throughout most of the lineup, Porsche’s excellent 7-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic Porsche calls “PDK” is available. Certain versions such as the GTS and Carrera T are manual-only, others such as the GT2 RS and 911 Turbo are PDK only. The Cliffs Notes version: PDKs are faster and no less enjoyable, manuals are for purists and offer to make the car even more engaging.

All turbocharged Porsche 911s benefit from the automaker’s pressurized turbos that keep its power ready—turbo lag is so 1977.

Active anti-roll bars help the 911 stay flat through corners and relay little of the road’s drama through the tires and wheels. Despite the 911’s heritage as a true sports car, the coupes are comfortable over long distances and make for excellent road trip vehicles.

All 911s have superb steering, thanks to Porsche’s knowledge of electric power racks that other automakers haven’t yet duplicated. It would be the eighth wonder of the world, only if Porsche’s product planning that brought us the GTS and 911 Carrera T weren’t already.

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2018 Porsche 911

Comfort & Quality

Few cars are as comfortable and livable as a Porsche 911—for two.

The 2018 Porsche 911 is the daily supercar—it’s comfortable and livable with a classic shape and practical interior.

It’s also not a minivan, and no one will confuse the 911’s classic shape for anything other than a sports car with room for two and their gear.

Starting from an average score of 5, we give the 911 points above average for its comfortable front seats and excellent fit and finish. Almost as quickly, we take points back for its cramped—and largely unnecessary—rear seat accommodations. It’s not a four-seater and we take another point back for its false advertising, the so-called “911 rule.” It earns a 5 out of 10 for comfort and so what. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The front seats are surprisingly easy to get into, with plenty of bolstering and adjustability in base versions. Most 911s will have power-adjustable seats, from 14- to 18-way adjustability, or sport buckets that hug driver and passenger in a luxurious German embrace.

The vestigial rear posts are for insurance purposes or misbehaving in-laws only. Porsche offers a rear footwell seating option on the order sheet, and may we interest you in some real estate opportunities on Venus as well?

The front trunk (aka “frunk”) and rear seats offer suitable cargo storage, but it’s best for soft-sided bags or other similarly easygoing materials. Just 5.1 cubic feet of room is available in the frunk, and the rear seats offer nearly 10 cubes of storage for bigger luggage. Opt for the convertible and that cargo area theoretically reaches into the lower troposphere. Congrats.

Regardless of trim level, the 911 is finished in high-quality materials with a construction that few automakers can rival. The driver’s binnacle is classic Porsche, but updated for the modern era. The key still goes on the left, a tradition carried forward from the earliest Porsches. A 4.6-inch multifunction display lives in the gauges for a modern twist on the old look.

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2018 Porsche 911

Safety

The 2018 Porsche 911 lacks crash-test data, but there’s a full complement of standard safety systems on all cars.

Federal and independent testers can’t keep a Porsche 911 long enough to ruin it, and we won’t begrudge them for it.

Porsche has escaped federal crash-testing for all of its models. We can’t assign a safety score here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Absent crash data, the 911 packs a standard complement of safety systems including front driver and passenger airbags and Porsche’s side impact airbags that inflate upward to protect occupants. Door reinforcements bolster the coupe’s safety in side-impact collisions.

Stability and traction control are standard on all coupes and convertibles, and Porsche’s rollover protection is standard on convertibles. (Please keep the shiny side up.)

Thankfully, standard on every 911 is the supercar’s famous maneuverability, which should be the front line of defense in avoiding a crash.

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2018 Porsche 911

Features

Few cars are as customizable as a Porsche 911. Even fewer cars can be as expensive too.

Porsche’s myriad options and trim levels for the 911 is a Rorschach test. What do you see when you look at the iconic sports car?

If it’s a luxury car to you, there are endless options including leather-clad air vents to cater to your desires. If it’s a performance car, there are many ways to outfit a 911 to be a track-day champion, including more power and dynamic engine mounts. If it’s a daily driver, how about some ski racks? If it’s a classic in the making, may we suggest a sunroof delete?

In all, the 911 offers a truly staggering process for buyers—thousands of options are possible for the right price. It ticks all of our boxes too, and then some more. It aces our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Base 911 coupes are well-equipped, which you would expect for $92,150 to start. They feature power adjustable front seats, an eight-speaker audio system, rearview camera, 19-inch wheels, 4.2-inch multifunction display for drivers, xenon headlights, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, and an Alcantara headliner, among other things.

Luxury-minded buyers will want to add a Premium Package that adds 14-way adjustable heated front seats and adaptive headlights. Other versions of the same package can add cooled seats and keyless ignition for more money.

Sport Chrono should be the first stop for any buyer looking to make the most of their sports car. The popular package unlocks a drive mode selector, dynamic engine mounts, launch control (automatic transmission only), rev-matching downshift (manual transmission only), and is the 911’s best life.

From there, your imagination and pockets are the only limits on how far you can take a 911.

A Powerkit package add-on for a Carrera S that adds more horsepower, an active exhaust, and rear wheel steering costs as much as a Rio—the Kia car, or maybe the city too.

The Porsche 911 doesn’t blink past $100,000 and reaches six figures nearly as quickly as it reaches 60 mph. Most trim levels beyond base add a few creature comforts, but some take them away in the name of performance.

A new Carrera T trim level this year is a purist’s pick: coupe, no radio, manual transmission, no rear seats, more money.

The story is largely the same all the way to the new 911 GT2 RS that costs nearly $300,000 to start.

The best advice we can offer: Pack a lunch and your pocketbook when configuring your new Porsche 911.

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2018 Porsche 911

Fuel Economy

Owning a Porsche 911 will make you many friends, but thankfully the gas station attendant doesn’t have to be one of them.

Despite its classic shape, the 2018 Porsche 911 manages respectable modern fuel-economy figures—especially given its performance.

That’s due in large part to the 911’s rounded shape and new turbocharged engine lineup that maximizes fuel economy at every turn after turn after exhilarating turn.

The base 3.0-liter 911 with an automatic is the most efficient, according to the EPA, and the most common. It’s rated at 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined. That’s good enough for a 7 out of 10 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

No other 911 manages the same fuel efficiency, but most aren’t far behind. Dozens of permutations in the 911 range mean that specific fuel economy figures are unique like fingerprints, but they mostly depend on powertrain and roof configuration.

Manual-equipped models are rated slightly lower than the automatic versions. The base coupe with a 7-speed manual is rated by the EPA at 20/29/23 mpg.

Opting for all-wheel drive usually shaves 1 mpg off of highway and combined ratings. Opting for higher-powered “S” trim levels nets the same dip in mileage, regardless of powertrain.

The new 911 Carrera GTS is rated at 20/26/23 mpg with its higher-output flat-6.

Convertible versions are rated almost identically to their fixed-roof counterparts.

At the top of the heap, Turbo and Turbo S variants are all rated at 19/24/21 mpg. (Except for the higher-output Turbo S Exclusive that, like the name implies, will be an extremely rare sight.)

The GT3 versions are unique and prioritize performance well beyond fuel economy. Because they aren’t equipped with turbochargers and fitted with higher-output, naturally aspirated engines, they’re the thirstiest among 911s. The GT3 is rated at 13/21/16 mpg and we don’t mind one bit.

Among performance supercars, the 911 is entirely reasonable. The Chevrolet Corvette is rated at 19 mpg combined (in most versions) and the Nissan GT-R manages 18 mpg combined.

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$91,100
MSRP based on Carrera Coupe
 
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7.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 10
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety N/A
Features 10
Fuel Economy 7
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