The Boxster may be the most popular Porsche these days, but the rear-engine 911 is still the most famous. A redesigned 911 with evolutionary styling changes arrived for 1999 to replace the original model, whose basic design survived more than 34 years.
This year, the most lusted-after 911 model the Carrera 4 Turbo coupe returns to the lineup. It comes with all-wheel drive and 415 horsepower from its 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine.
Still immediately recognizable as a 911, the current version is 7 inches longer than the original and has all new sheet metal, while it retains the fastback rear roof and silhouette of its forerunners. The 911 shares most of its front styling with the Boxster.
The 911 comes as a coupe and a convertible, and the latter has a power top that raises or lowers in 20 seconds and includes an integral hard tonneau cover. The convertible top has a plastic rear window, but an optional aluminum hardtop that weighs 71 pounds has a glass rear window with a defogger. Supplemental safety bars pop out of the rear deck if sensors detect an impending rollover.
Like the previous 911s, the current model comes with nominal seating for four. Despite a roomier interior, the tiny rear seat is still installed mainly to avoid the high insurance premiums levied on two-seaters in some European markets.
One key change that Porschephiles will notice quickly from behind the wheel: The brake and clutch pedals are suspended instead of being mounted to the floor. The accelerator pedal is still floor-mounted.
Under the Hood
The base engine for the 911 is a 3.4-liter six-cylinder with horizontally opposed cylinders what Porsche calls a boxer engine and 300 horsepower. This engine powers both rear- and all-wheel-drive versions of the 911.
The 911 Turbo coupe comes only with all-wheel drive and a 415-hp 3.6-liter six-cylinder with twin turbochargers. Previous generations of the 911 had air-cooled engines, but the latest are water-cooled.
Both engines are available with a standard six-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic this is the first time the 911 Turbo has been offered with automatic transmission. The automatic is Porsches Tiptronic, which allows manual shifting through switches on the steering wheel a feature found on many racecars.