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The Top Gear car review:Porsche 911
For:Incredibly usable performance, and the most flexible sports car on sale
Against:Gets expensive when you start speccing
What is it?
It’s the Porsche 911, perhaps the world’s most famous sports car. It’s certainly one of the best-selling: production has surpassed one million. The Mazda MX-5 has done that too, but then it’s a cheaper, more attainable car. And Porsche reckons around three quarters of those million 911s are still in good nick and being driven.
You won’t fail to notice that the 911 range is considerably more complex than when it launched in 1963, one million cars ago. As we write this there are 23 different models of 911 available to buy new – by the time you’re reading this, that number could well have risen.
Understanding the range has the potential to be tricky, then, but it’s easy to find which car might suit you with a few simple questions. Coupe or convertible? Will you use it on track? Do you need back seats? The good news is they’re all very good – some brilliant, some superlative – so you’ll hardly pick a duffer no matter which configuration wormhole you end up in.
The 911 was last updated in 2015, when the most basic models received turbocharging for the first time, a move that displeased the most ardent purists. Don’t let it bother you – if anything its performance is now a bit more accessible, and the car more exciting at the kind of speeds you actually drive on the road, thanks to more torque at much lower revs.
You can essentially split the 911 range into three sections. You have the 911 Carrera – and Carrera S, Carrera T and Carrera GTS – all of which get a twin-turbo flat-six engine. They’re the most useable 911s of all. Each one can come with four seats and all but the Carrera T comes in convertible form, too. You can have each as either a manual or a PDK automatic, and several of them offer four-wheel drive as an option. These are the most flexible 911s when it comes to configuring one to your own taste.
Then there’s the 911 Turbo and Turbo S, the all-weather supercars that are four-wheel drive and PDK only. They offer back seats and all the everyday usability of the Carrera models, but mated to sub-three-second 0-62mph times and some of the most shockingly easy performance on offer at any price. They’re probably too heavy to be natural track cars if that’s your thing, though.
If it is, you want a ‘motorsport’ 911, either the GT3, GT3 RS or GT2 RS, the most hardcore 911s on sale. They’re rear-wheel drive only. Only the base GT3 offers a manual gearchange, though. The GT3s offer some of the purest driving joy on the market, whereas the GT2 takes their recipe and adds a pair of turbos, making it less delicate and more savage. Until recently, it was the quickest production car around the Nürburgring’s infamous Nordschleife.