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.

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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.

Brand Terms to Know

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.

The Porsche Buying Guide

718 Cayman


porsche cayman
Porsche

The 718 Cayman is Porsche's entry-level sports car. It's a two-door, two-seater, mid-engined coupe. With its exquisite balance and handling, it's recognized as one of the best driver's cars on the market; it's the gold standard other automakers benchmark against. The fourth generation starting in 2016 moved from flat-six engines to higher-performing boxer-fours. Nearly every 718 model can be fitted with a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

The base Cayman uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 300 horsepower. Bumping up to the Cayman S ($71,900) gets you a 2.5-liter four-pot putting out 350 hp. The Cayman T ($68,900) is a pared down, driver-oriented version of the base model. The Cayman GTS 4.0 ($86,800) and Cayman GT4 ($100,200) performance models both use naturally-aspirated boxer-six engines. The latter has a wing and 20 more horsepower, up to 414 hp.

Body Style

  • Coupe

    Models

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

      Engines

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

        Base MSRP: $59,900

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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. It 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 Spyder

            Engines

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

              Base MSRP: $59,000

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              911

              porsche 911 turbo s
              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.

              High-performance "Turbo" versions upgrade to a 3.8-liter boxer-six. The Turbo trim ($170,800) offers 572 hp while the Turbo S ($203,500) upgrades to 640 hp. Porsche sells both in hardtop and cabriolet versions. Even more high-performance trims like the 911 GT3 should follow later in the 992-generation model's run.

              Body Styles

              • Coupe
              • Convertible
              • Targa

                Models

                • Carrera S / Carrera 4 /Carrera 4S
                • Carrera Cabriolet S / Carrera Cabriolet 4 / Carrera Cabriolet 4S
                • Targa 4 / Targa 4S / Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition
                • Turbo / Turbo S
                • Turbo Cabriolet / Turbo S Cabriolet

                  Engines

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

                    Base MSRP: $99,200

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                    Taycan

                    2020 porsche taycan turbo s gear patrol lead slide 2
                    Porcshe

                    The Taycan, pronounced "tie-con," is Porsche's first production electric car. It debuted for the 2020 model year. Currently, Porsche offers three versions of the Taycan: the Taycan 4S ($103,800) with 522 hp, the Taycan Turbo ($105,900) with 670 hp and the Taycan Turbo S ($185,000) with 750 hp.

                    The Taycan disappointed in EPA range testing, ranging from 192 miles for the Turbo S to 203 miles for the 4S. Though real world testing places the Porsche far closer to the Tesla Model S than EPA numbers would suggest.

                    Body Style

                    • Sedan

                      Models

                      • Taycan 4S
                      • Taycan Turbo
                      • Taycan Turbo S

                        Engine

                        • Dual AC Synchronous Electric Motors

                          Base MSRP: $103,800

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                          Panamera

                          2021 porsche panamera range
                          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 is giving the lineup a substantial refresh for the 2021 model year. As of this writing, Porsche has not released the new pricing. 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
                          • Station wagon

                            Models

                            • Panamera
                            • Panamera 4
                            • Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
                            • Panamera 4S
                            • Panamera 4S E-Hybrid
                            • Panamera GTS
                            • Panamera Turbo S
                            • Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid

                              Engines

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

                                Base MSRP: $87,200 (2020)

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                                Macan

                                porsche macan gear patrol
                                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.

                                The base Macan uses a 248-hp four-cylinder engine. The Macan S ($60,200) upgrades to a 348 hp 3.0-liter V6. High-performance Macan GTS ($72,100) and Macan Turbo ($84,600) versions use 375- and 434-hp outputs from a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6. All Macans use a seven-speed PDK automatic transmission.

                                Body Style

                                • SUV

                                  Models

                                  • Macan
                                  • Macan S
                                  • Macan GTS
                                  • Macan Turbo

                                    Engines

                                    • Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four
                                    • Turbocharged 3.0-liter V6
                                    • Twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6

                                      Base MSRP$52,100

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                                      Cayenne

                                      porsche cayenne gear patrol
                                      Porsche

                                      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. Cayennes use an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission rather than Porsche's PDK.

                                      The base Cayenne uses a 335 hp 3.0-liter V6. The Cayenne E-Hybrid ($81,800) version puts out 455 hp combined. The Cayenne S ($85,100) uses a 434 hp twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6. The Cayenne GTS ($107,300) bumps to up a 453 hp V8. The Cayenne Turbo ($127,800) has a V8 that puts out 541 hp. The top-tier Turbo S E-Hybrid ($163,200) gets 670 horsepower.

                                      Body Style

                                      • SUV
                                      • SUV Coupe

                                        Models

                                        • Cayenne
                                        • Cayenne E-Hybrid
                                        • Cayenne S
                                        • Cayenne GTS
                                        • Cayenne Turbo
                                        • Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

                                          Engines

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

                                            Base MSRP: $67,500

                                            Learn More

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