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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 touring
koslowskiphoto

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Porsche History

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.

Porsche Terminology

  • 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.

    Every Current Porsche Model

    Porsche Cars:

    718 Cayman

    silver porsche cayman gts 4 side
    Tyler Duffy

    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 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 at 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

        Engines

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

          Base MSRP: $63,400

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          718 Boxster

          porsche boxster 718 gts 4 0
          Will Sabel Courtney

          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.

          Body Style

          • Convertible

            Models

            • 718 Boxster
            • 718 Boxster S
            • 718 Boxster T
            • 718 Boxster GTS 4.0

              Engines

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

                Base MSRP: $65,500

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                911

                porsche 911 turbo s lightweight package racing yellow
                Will Sabel Courtney

                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.

                "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.

                Porsche just added a GT3 RS model that pairs the naturally-aspirated motor with "motorsport-derived aerodynamics." The most expensive model is the new 911 Sport Classic, which is basically a 911 Turbo with a manual transmission.

                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
                  • GT3 RS
                  • Turbo / Turbo S
                  • Turbo Cabriolet / Turbo S Cabriolet
                  • Sport Classic

                    Engines

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

                      Base MSRP: $106,100

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                      Taycan

                      porsche taycan 4s light blue
                      Will Sabel Courtney

                      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: $86,700

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                            Panamera

                            porsche panamera gts
                            Will Sabel Courtney

                            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: $92,400

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                                  Porsche SUVs / Crossovers:

                                  Macan

                                  porsche macan gts
                                  Will Sabel Courtney

                                  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. Porsche also added a stripped-down, lightweight Macan T model f0r 2023. Porsche's next-generation Macan will be an electric car.

                                  Body Style

                                  • SUV

                                    Models

                                    • Macan
                                    • Macan T
                                    • Macan S
                                    • Macan GTS

                                      Engines

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

                                        Base MSRP: $57,500

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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.

                                        Several Cayenne trims offer new Platinum Edition variants, which are appearance packages that include satin finish paint and trim-specific wheels.

                                        Body Style

                                        • SUV
                                        • SUV Coupe

                                          Models

                                          • Cayenne (Coupe)
                                          • Cayenne Platinum Edition (Coupe)
                                          • Cayenne E-Hybrid (Coupe)
                                          • Cayenne E-Hybrid Platinum Edition (Coupe)
                                          • Cayenne S (Coupe)
                                          • Cayenne S Platinum Edition (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: $72,200

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