GRR

The eight best Porsche 911s ever

04th August 2023
Russell Campbell

With the Porsche 911 S/T providing peak 992 911, it got us wondering – what is the best model from each generation? It’s a question that’s akin to asking "which is your favourite of your two children?" and could potentially send the comments section into a frenzy. Still, we've attempted to offer a broad mix of models that show the 911 at its best, while signposting its progression through the ages. Keep reading as we guide you through the best 911 of every generation.

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1. Porsche 911 F R

The original Porsche 911 R provided the blueprint for the Porsche GT machines we know and love today. Power came from a familiar source, a 2.0-litre flat-six that produced 213PS (157kW). Porsche then set about adding lightness. Glass-fibre was used for the bumpers, bonnet, wings and doors, and all windows (bar the windscreen, which used crystal-thin glass) were made from plexiglass.

Inside, you got Porsche's now trademark door pulls while the ashtray, cigarette lighter, sun visors, and two of the five instruments you'd expect to find in the 911's iconic instrument binnacle were removed. As a result, the R weighed just 800kg, an impressive 230kg less than a 911S, could get from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, and lapped Hockenheim just 12 seconds slower than a 906 Group 4 racer.

Just 19 911Rs were built, and it went on to triumph in circuit racing, rallying and endurance events.

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2. Porsche 911 G Turbo​

The second generation of the Porsche 911 – the 911G – went on sale in 1974 and remained on the market until 1989. It would bring several famous badges, including the 2.7 RS, SC and Carrera, but the Turbo proved to be the most seismic. It's easy to understand why. An exhaust-fed turbine cranked power up to 260PS (191kW) and gave the 911 effortless overtaking ability that perfectly matched the car's everyday usability.

Unfortunately, the Turbo's peak power delivery went a long way to earning the 911 its 'widow maker' reputation. However, if you could master the handling, few cars could touch the Turbo on the road. Few cars looked as good either, thanks to its blistered rear wheel arches, shark fin wing protectors and iconic whale tail spoiler. It's probably not a surprise to know that the current (now four-wheel drive) 911 Turbo remains one of the fastest point-to-point cars you can buy.

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3. Porsche 964 911

The Porsche 964 went on sale in 1989 and, in true Porsche tradition, looked incredibly similar to the outgoing model, despite 85 per cent of its parts being new. The 964 added a few things that remain 911 trademarks to this day – a rear spoiler that automatically rises at speed and the four-wheel drive Carrera 4 which was the 964's original launch model. It had electronically controlled four-wheel drive that split power 31% front and 69% rear, giving the Carrera 4 the feel of a normal 911 but with more predictable handling on the limit and vastly improved all-weather performance.

The 964 also saw torsion bar suspension replaced with coil springs and dampers. The result was a sweet-handling sportscar with a 250PS (184kW) 3.6-litre flat-six that was good for 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 163mph.

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4. Porsche 993 911 GT​

The Porsche 993 is considered by many to be peak 911. It has the classic looks, small dimensions and air-cooled engine of the original car, combined with modern technology like twin-turbocharging and multi-link rear suspension that finally tamed the 911's wayward handling.

The GT – later known as the GT2 – represents the pinnacle of 993s and not just because only 57 examples were built. It got the same 430PS (316kW) 3.6-litre bi-turbo flat-six as the standard Turbo but without the heavy four-wheel-drive system. In all, Porsche shaved a hefty 205kg from the weight of a standard 911 by removing things like the back seats, central locking, electric windows, airbags and sunroof and by adding hardshell front seats and magnesium wheel centres.

The result was performance of 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, a 187mph top speed and a blueprint that all future blown range-toppers could follow.

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5. Porsche 911 996 GT3

The Porsche 911 996 GT3 was another defining model, setting the standard that all modern 911 GT homologated racing cars follow today. The 996 was also the first 911 to be water-cooled. The GT3 took its (famously robust) 360PS (265kW) 3.6-litre Mezgar flat-six from the Turbo, losing the turbos but keeping sophisticated internals like titanium conrods.

With 0-62mph taking 4.5 seconds on the way to a 190mph top speed, the 996 was quick, but the on-paper figures don't do justice to the spine-tingling way the GT3 delivers its power. Cornering performance was just as impressive. As well as getting lowered suspension and adjustable dampers, the GT3 featured beefed-up brakes with the option to upgrade to race-spec carbon ceramic brakes and a half cage.

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6. Porsche 911 997 GTS

While a GT 911 will always be your best option for track use, there is a strong argument that the Porsche 997 GTS is the best road car Stuttgart has ever built. The 997 had the analogue feel of the 996 but without the controversial looks and fried-egg headlights.

The GTS got a 3.8-litre flat-six with a power kit that delivered 408PS (300kW) – good for 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and a 190mph top speed, along with one of the best soundtracks you'll find in any 911.

Meanwhile, a widebody increases the car's rear track by 32mm, and you get the option of a mechanical limited-slip differential that gives the best handling you'll find this side of a GT3. But without the GT3's bone-shaking suspension and noisy cabin free of sound deadening, the GTS is a far easier car to live with daily.

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7. Porsche 911 991 GT3 Touring

The 991 GT3 Touring can claim to be the modern Porsche for purists. It borrows its naturally aspirated 500PS (368kW) 4.0-litre flat-six from the GT3 but only comes in manual form. The manual gearbox is critical here, giving you a closer connection to the car and allowing you to manipulate its incredible engine exactly how you want to. Even with you manually changing the cogs, the Touring still gets from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and onto a staggering 196mph top speed.

While there's no ducktail spoiler, the rest of the Touring is based on the GT3 chassis, meaning you get revised bumpers, centre-lock wheels and a track that's 40mm wider than the standard Carrera. Meaning you can enjoy the GT3's limpet-like handling without looking like a failed/wannabe racing driver. 

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8. Porsche 911 992 S/T

While we've yet to drive it, the Porsche 911 S/T has a strong argument for being the best of the batch of the current 992 model range. Like the Touring, it borrows much from the current GT3, including its naturally aspirated, 525PS (386kW) 4.0-litre, flat-six engine, which is never happier than when revved to 9,000rpm, especially when you factor in the S/T's lightweight clutch and single-mass flywheel, which shave rotating mass by 10.5kg.

The wings, doors, bonnet and roof are made from carbon-fibre, and disposing of the GT3's rear-wheel steering knocks 40kg off the weight of a GT3 Touring. Porsche claims 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and a 186mph top speed. And it looks as good as it goes. Outside, the Heritage Design Package adds Shoreblue Metallic paint, ceramic wheels and racing numbers, while inside, you get Cognac leather upholstery with carbon-fibre hardshell seats. 

  • Porsche

  • 911

  • 991

  • 997

  • 964

  • 993

  • GT3

  • GTS

  • 911 S/T

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