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The Complete Porsche Buying Guide: Every Model, Explained

Once known just for its sports cars, Porsche now produces a wide variety of coupes, convertibles, SUVs and sedans.

porsche 911 gt3 interior
Porsche

Welcome to Brand Breakdown, a series of comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guides to your favorite companies, with insights and information you won’t find on the average About page.

Porsche is a German luxury and sports car manufacturer, based in Stuttgart and founded in 1931. The company is best known for its powerful, precise-handling sports cars, most famously the iconic 911. While capable on track, Porsches distinguish themselves by being entertaining on the street and comfortable and durable enough for daily driving.

This century, Porsche has broadened its lineup to include four-door vehicles — both SUVs (the Macan and Cayenne) and sedans (the Panamera and the electric Taycan). This model expansion has greatly increased sales, making the company more stable and profitable.

Volkswagen has had close ties with Porsche since its founding. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle, and that car’s rear-engined legacy still endures to this day in the 911. The companies are closely aligned in business, as well; Porsche and Volkswagen formed an “integrated automotive group” in 2011, and many Porsche vehicles share platforms, parts, and engines with Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, and other VW brands.

While Porsche only produces six models, the lineup can get confusing. Three-digit model numbers like 911 and 718 that were once tied to actual generations now have become historical designations; the new 911 is known internally as the 992 model, while the 718 Cayman and Boxster are known as the 982 inside the company and among die-hard fans. And Porsche still offers “Turbo” trims, even though almost every Porsche now uses a turbocharged engine.

The Terminology of Porsche Models

Air-Cooled: 911s through the late 1990s had air-cooled engines, which ran air over the engine oil to cool the engine rather than using a water-based radiator. These engines are generally simpler, lighter and sound better than newer water-cooled engines, and vehicles with them are highly valued by Porsche purists. Porsche replaced them with water-cooled engines for better performance, better reliability, and to meet modern emissions standards.
Base MSRP: This is the starting point for negotiations. A common term, but worth reiterating here; Porsche’s option tree is notoriously large and steeply-priced.
Boxer Engine: An internal combustion engine with horizontally-opposed pistons, used most commonly by Porsche and Subaru. It helps to lower the car’s center of gravity. Production is usually more expensive than a V-shaped engine, however, which is why it is used less commonly.
Carrera: “Race” in Spanish. Porsche initially used the term to celebrate class wins in Mexico’s Carrera Panamericana in the 1950s. Porsche has used the term over the decades to designate racing-oriented models, or to make base models sound more racing-oriented.
PDK: Short for Porsche Doppelkupplunggetriebe, or “Porsche dual clutch gearbox.” Known for its exceptionally quick shifts. It is the only transmission choice on top-tier 911s, as well as on all Panameras.
RS: Stands for “rennsport,” which means “racing” in German.
Targa: A retro body style that is part coupe, part convertible. The top roof panel retracts, but a distinctive roll bar remains in place. Porsche started offering it in the 1960s when it was feared the U.S. might outlaw convertibles for safety reasons.
Tiptronic: An automatic transmission with a manual shifting mode.
Turbo: The term “Turbo” originally designated a turbocharged engine. Now that almost every Porsche is turbocharged, “turbo” means a powerful, high-performance version of that particular model.

Buying Guide

Porsche Cars:

718 Cayman

porsche cayman gt4
Porsche

The 718 Cayman is Porsche's entry-level sports car. It's a two-door, two-seater, rear mid-engined coupe. With its exquisite balance and handling, the 718 Cayman is recognized as one of the gold standard driver's cars on the market. Porsche debuted the current fourth-generation in 2016 with a controversial shift to from flat-six to flat-four engines (though Porsche re-added some flat-six versions). Most 718 models can be fitted with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed PDK.

The base 718 Cayman starts around 300 horsepower with a four-cylinder. You can level up to the new $140,000-plus Cayman GT4 RS, with the flat-six engine from the 911 GT3 among other features.

Body Style

  • Coupe

    Models

    • 718 Cayman
    • 718 Cayman S
    • 718 Cayman T
    • 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
    • 718 Cayman GT4
    • 718 Cayman GT4 RS

      Engines

      • Turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer-four
      • Turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four
      • 4.0-liter boxer-six

        Base MSRP: $60,500

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        718 Boxster

        porsche boxster
        Porsche

        The 718 Boxster, a portmanteau of boxer and roadster, predates the hardtop Cayman by a generation. It debuted as Porsche's more affordable car for the 1997 model year, and helped save the company. The current generation is a mechanical sibling of the 718 Cayman, identical but for the soft top and the uniform $2,100 price increase. The 718 Boxster tracks the Cayman trim levels through the GTS 4.0. The 718 Spyder uses the same engine as the 718 Cayman GT4 but comes sans wing and is $2,900 cheaper.

        Body Style

        • Convertible

          Models

          • 718 Boxster
          • 718 Boxster S
          • 718 Boxster T
          • 718 Boxster GTS 4.0
          • 718 Boxster 25 Years
          • 718 Spyder

            Engines

            • Turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer-four
            • Turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer-four
            • 4.0-liter boxer-six

              Base MSRP: $62,600

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              911

              porsche 911 gts 992 2022
              Porsche

              The 911 is Porsche's legendary two-door, two-plus-two seat, rear-engined sports car. The eighth-generation 992 debuted for the 2019 model year. The base model 911 uses a 379 hp engine and comes in Carrera hardtop, Carrera Cabriolet and Targa body styles. "S" versions upgrade to 443 hp and offer a seven-speed manual transmission. "4" versions have all-wheel-drive instead of rear-wheel-drive.

              There are two veins of high-performance 911. "Turbo" versions shoot for all-out supercar performance with the Turbo S packing 640 hp and accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 2.6 seconds. The GT3 is more of a 911 purist's model, with a naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter boxer-six and a manual transmission. 911 GTS models provide a middle ground on price point and performance between the base and top-end models.

              Body Styles

              • Coupe
              • Convertible
              • Targa

                Models

                • Carrera / Carrera S / Carrera 4 /Carrera 4S
                • Carrera Cabriolet S / Carrera Cabriolet 4 / Carrera Cabriolet 4S
                • Carrera GTS / Carrera 4 GTS
                • Carrera GTS Cabriolet / Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet
                • Targa 4 / Targa 4S / Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
                • GT3 / GT3 w/Touring Package
                • Turbo / Turbo S
                • Turbo Cabriolet / Turbo S Cabriolet

                  Engines

                  • Twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter boxer-six
                  • Twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter boxer-six
                  • 4.0-liter boxer-six

                    Base MSRP: $101,200

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                    Taycan

                    porsche taycan turbo s
                    Omaze

                    The Taycan, pronounced "tie-con," is Porsche's first production electric car. It debuted for the 2020 model year. It runs on Porsche's high-performance J1 EV platform, which it shares with the Audi E-Tron GT. It comes as both a sedan or Sport/Cross Turismo wagon. The base "Taycan" is a single-motor RWD vehicle. All other Taycans have front and rear motors and all-wheel-drive. New Taycan GTS models slot between the base models and high-performance Turbo models.

                    The Taycan earned low numbers in EPA range testing, hovering around 200 miles. However, real-world testing performance places the Porsche far closer to the Tesla Model S than the EPA numbers would suggest.

                    Body Style

                    • Sedan
                    • Wagon

                      Models

                      • Taycan / Taycan 4S
                      • Taycan 4 Cross Turismo / Taycan 4S Cross Turismo
                      • Taycan GTS
                      • Taycan GTS Sport Turismo
                      • Taycan Turbo / Taycan Turbo S
                      • Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo / Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo S

                        Engine

                        • Single-motor RWD
                        • Dual-motor AWD

                          Base MSRP: $82,700

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                          Panamera

                          porsche panamera turbo s sport turismo 2021
                          Porsche

                          The Panamera is Porsche's front-engined, four-door car. Consider it a cross between a sports car and a sports sedan. The Panamera comes in Sedan, longer wheelbase Executive and Sport Turismo wagon body styles. All Panameras come with an eight-speed PDK automatic transmission.

                          Porsche gave the lineup a substantial refresh for the 2021 model year. The base Panamera has a 325 hp V6 and either RWD or AWD. Buyers can upgrade to a 552-hp V6 Panamera 4S E-Hybrid, a 473-hp V8 Panamera GTS, a 620-hp V8 Panamera Turbo S and a 689-hp Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid.

                          Body Styles

                          • Sedan
                          • Long-wheelbase sedan
                          • Wagon

                            Models

                            • Panamera / Panamera Platinum Edition
                            • Panamera 4 / Panamera 4 Executive / Panamera 4 Sport Turismo / Panamera 4 Platinum Edition
                            • Panamera 4S / Panamera 4S Executive / Panamera 4S Sport Turismo
                            • Panamera 4 E-Hybrid / Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Exeuctive / Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo / Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Platinum Edition
                            • Panamera 4S E-Hybrid / Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Executive / Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
                            • Panamera GTS / Panamera GTS Sport Turismo
                            • Panamera Turbo S / Panamera Turbo S Executive / Panamera Turbo S Sport Turismo
                            • Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid / Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive / Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

                              Engines

                              • Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
                              • Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 hybrid
                              • Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8
                              • Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 hybrid

                                Base MSRP: $88,400

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                                Porsche SUVs / Crossovers:

                                Macan

                                porsche macan s
                                Porsche

                                The Macan is Porsche's entry-level compact crossover. It debuted for the 2014 model year, and it remains Porsche's best-selling model; in 2019, Porsche sold more Macans in the U.S. than the 911, 718, Panamera and Taycan combined. All Macans feature all-wheel drive and a seven-speed PDK automatic transmission.

                                Porsche refreshed the Macan for 2022 with new and more powerful versions of the Macan, Macan S and Macan GTS trims. No word yet on whether a refreshed Macan Turbo will follow. Porsche's next-generation Macan will be an electric car.

                                Body Style

                                • SUV

                                  Models

                                  • Macan
                                  • Macan S
                                  • Macan GTS

                                    Engines

                                    • Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four
                                    • Turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
                                    • Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6

                                      Base MSRP: $54,900

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                                      Cayenne

                                      porsche cayenne turbo gt performance suv
                                      Will Sabel Courtney

                                      The Cayenne is Porsche's midsize luxury SUV. The third generation debuted in the U.S. for the 2019 model year. Each trim is available as a Cayenne Coupe variant with a rakish roofline. The new halo Cayenne Turbo GT isn't labeled as a coupe because it only comes as a coupe.

                                      Cayennes use an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission rather than Porsche's PDK. There are two combustion V6 powertrains, a combustion V8 powertrain and both V6 and V8 plug-in hybrids. Prices can range from the 335 hp base Cayenne starting around $70,000 to the Cayenne Turbo GT beginning at more than $180,000.

                                      Body Style

                                      • SUV
                                      • SUV Coupe

                                        Models

                                        • Cayenne (Coupe)
                                        • Cayenne E-Hybrid (Coupe)
                                        • Cayenne S (Coupe)
                                        • Cayenne GTS (Coupe)
                                        • Cayenne Turbo (Coupe)
                                        • Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid (Coupe)
                                        • Cayenne Turbo GT

                                          Engines

                                          • Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
                                          • Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 plug-in hybrid
                                          • Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6
                                          • Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8
                                          • Twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 plug-in hybrid

                                            Base MSRP: $69,000

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