13. Carrera 4
Okay, hands up - we’re not covering off every 911. Firstly, because that would mean ranking all 25 derivatives (no kidding) currently on sale in the UK, which would not be good for anyone’s patience, and secondly, it would’ve meant lumping a lot of Targa variants at the bottom (sorry, Targa fans). So instead we’ve removed all the convertible stuff at a stroke, leaving us with a baker’s dozen. And while there is not a bum note among them, it’s the Carrera 4 that kicks us off. Why? Well, because unless you live in the Arctic circle, the starter 992 - a 911 furnished with more traction than any generation preceding it - should absolutely be rear-drive. You’ll just have more fun, more often. For less.
12. Carrera 2
There’s a subjective hair’s breadth between many 911 variants (that is Porsche's overriding talent, after all) and so it is between a Carrera 2 and a 4S. Because the point made above still stands - a rear-drive 911 is generally preferable to an AWD one - but when you add 65hp and the no-cost option of the seven-speed manual into the mix, it’s fair to say that the 4S nicks it. Nevertheless, the entry-level 992 makes a great case for itself. The model’s gradual slide towards GT status is arguably at its most prominent here, but that notion just confirms how well it mingles comfort and supreme usability. Rest assured, if you try a bit harder there’s still a deeper, rear-engined reservoir of talent to be explored - and 385hp is plenty enough to do that with.
11. Carrera 4S
It’s a fairly senior step-up in price between Carrera 2 and 4S (nearly £20k), but the step-up in performance is probably worth the premium. In fact, while there are plenty more senior AWD options to come, it’s fair to say that a well-specced 4S is almost certainly more than enough all-weather 911 for most people. In fact, thanks to the beefier output and the 992’s bigger footprint, it’s probably enough car for most people, full stop. It’s hugely fast, for one thing - Porsche is absolutely not underselling the 3.6-second-to-62mph performance - and there’s sufficient breath of dynamic talent to put most supercars to shame. Make no mistake: on a winding public road, no car to come would walk away from a robustly driven 4S.
Of course, a Turbo would mince it in a straight line. We’re talking about the difference between very fast and extremely fast. And ‘extremely fast’ is the Turbo’s stock in trade. So why not higher up the list? Well, there’s no denying the staggeringly high quality of tech or engineering nous or legacy-regarding effort that goes into making the flagship 911 - internally, Porsche lauds it endlessly - but there is inevitably something of the sledgehammer in the way the model goes about the business of being a road car. And because of that, because you’re buying a missile for all the exemplary things a missile does, it stands to reason that you should go all-in on the rocket. And that means 650hp from the Turbo S, not 580hp from the (still very good) lesser version.
9. Carrera S
But don’t worry if you can’t stump up £180k, because there’s still the rear-drive S to consider. Not just for the sake of the lighter, more lurid purist argument, but because we’d sacrifice some of that outrageous forward momentum for the pleasure of completely uncorrupted steering. Not that the Turbo or the 4S is bad in this regard, it’s simply that the Carrera S is (inevitably) that bit more honest. And because it is a smidgen lighter, there’s the abiding sense that it’s more agile, too. That doesn’t mean that we’re totally resistant to the abiding wet road argument, it’s just that on balance we’d prefer to savour the highs than live better with the lows. Not for nothing either, but if this is the most senior 911 you ever get to access, you’ll have experienced a significant portion of what makes the subsequent cars great.
8. Carrera 4 GTS
For an all-things-to-all-people kind of sports car, it’s hard to do an awful lot better than a C4 GTS. There’s the security of four driven wheels (for those that need it), the involvement of a manual gearbox (for those that want it) and the prestige that comes from being just a teeny-tiny bit better than a Carrera S (for those must have that, too). With the twin-turbo flat-six boosted to 480hp for this 992 era of GTS, performance is appropriately fierce, particularly if the 4WD car is equipped with PDK: just 3.3 seconds is required for the 0-62mph sprint. Top speed is rated at 192mph - so that’s the speed freaks sorted, too. None of the 992’s ease-of-use is sacrificed, either; buyers aren’t mandated to spec the lightweight parts or go without rear seats for a 911 of such broad batted ability. It’s easy to see how the GTS has become a mainstay of the range. There are even Targa and Cabriolet versions for the sunseekers. There are 911s that punch even harder or drive more engagingly, so we’re compelled to nudge those higher up the list, but if you need to know what the 992 fuss is about then a C4 GTS is a fine place to start.
7. Turbo S
It would be easy to make a case for the Turbo S ranking even higher. Here’s a 992 that’s no harder to drive than a Carrera yet is capable of hypercar-humbling performance; visually it’s only as attention-grabbing as a GTS - maybe not even that - but could keep a GT3 honest around a track. All with four-seat, two-boot practicality on top. It’s hard even to criticise a Turbo S for being overly wide in 2023 because, to be honest, all the 992s are quite chunky monkeys. Another few millimetres here or there doesn’t matter so much. And it’s a 200mph+ supercar if you want it to be - find us a slim-hipped, wieldy one of those. That’s why the Turbo S is so persuasive, especially as a 992; it can do all the things the 911 has ever been able to do, in one 911. It can do long-legged GT, it can do exhilarating sports car, it can do apex predator, and it can absolutely do commutable sports car. It’s become easy to dismiss the ultimate turbocharged 911s of late, but the current Turbo S really is a mighty thing. If it wasn’t for the PH fondness of manual gearboxes (and 9,000rpm), the standard-bearer would be higher up the list.
6. Carrera T
Unlike a lot of the 992 range, the T’s appeal is niche - it uses the least powerful 385hp, 3.0-litre engine but costs more than a Carrera, can be had with a manual gearbox (that isn’t the GT3’s excellent six-speed) and does away with rear seats when so much of a 911’s everyday appeal is its practicality. Add them back in for free and so much of the weight saving compared to a Carrera is undone. See what we’re getting at? But Porsche hasn’t been making 911s for as long as it has to create undesirable ones, and the T has a knack for making its driver wonder how much more rear-engined sports car they might really need. A gearbox not as great as a GT3’s is still a joy to use, an entry-level 385hp can still get you to 180mph, and chassis extras previously reserved for the Carrera S - PASM Sport, torque vectoring with a limited-slip diff, sports exhaust - bring some fizz to the drive absent from a Carrera. It isn’t a cut-price GT3 (not least because every 911 is now a six-figure prospect), but the Carrera T remains a deeply impressive Porsche sports car. Hence a top half finish.
5. Carrera 2 GTS
Ever since the introduction of the badge at the end of the 997’s run - cars still highly coveted to this day - the GTS variants have been the pick of the non-GT 911 range. That remains true for the 992 generation. By carefully enhancing every bit of the spec - a bit more power, a smarter look, some choice options fitted as standard - the GTS makes the walk up from Carrera S very simple indeed. On paper, it looks little different, but in reality, and from behind the wheel (i.e. the places where it matters) the GTS does enough to warrant its premium. The model has now reached the point, in fact, where there’s a cut-price Turbo feel to it, the performance and ability of a GTS now so sky high. The standard two-wheel drive Carrera GTS ranks so high because the traction and composure are so absolute that there’s little need to pay the premium for four driven wheels. And however well-matched the eight-speed PDK is to the 992 package, there will always be something hugely appealing about the notion of a near-500hp, rear-drive, manual 911. Long may that continue.
It says something of the quality on offer in the 992 lineup that the 911 GT3 - among the very best sports car for road and track use, ever - can come home fourth. There’s not much in it, of course, because so much of this package is familiar from 911s higher up the list, but talk about a broad product portfolio. Speaking of which, so many more 911s have joined the range since the GT3’s launch that it can be hard to believe it arrived just a couple of years back - time waits for no car on planet Porsche. The double wishbone suspension was the big news for this GT3; familiar from many more ordinary cars for a long time, but a first for this generation - and a genuine game changer. With standard four-wheel steering as well, the new front end made for a GT3 that cornered like none before it, with the agility and poise of something mid-engined. Ally that formidable handling with one of the best combustion engines still left on sale - the glorious 510hp 4.0-litre - and a choice of two superb transmissions and it’s little wonder the GT3 still has the measure of many more powerful rivals. It’s perfectly usable as a road car, too. And the new-for-992 Shark Blue looks great. No wonder there’s more GT3 to come…
Feels like we might get some flak for this one, placing the GTS-engined 911 typically seen in that rubbish Rothmans rip-off livery ahead of the road racer that’s ruled its roost for more than 20 years. But there are good reasons for making the Dakar the third-best 992 you can buy. First is the sheer sense of fun. As the 911 has inevitably grown up (and out), so it has become a more mature and less thrilling sports car. Whereas the Dakar, on long travel suspension and off-road tyres, moves around like a 911 ought to, adjustable on brakes and throttle in a way that’s impossible not to indulge. You don’t have to be going fast for the Dakar to do 911ey things, and in a world where there are 992s out there on 21-inch wheels and giant tyres, that’s particularly welcome. The Dakar’s case is aided further, of course, by its proper off-road ability - there’s substance to back up the style (and that’s on offer without the livery). A 992 that’s more entertaining on road than so many others and can legitimately be taken a long way off it fully deserves a ranking as high as this.
2. GT3 RS
What an incredible achievement the GT3 RS is. Just when it seems like Porsche GT cars have peaked, leaving you to suspect they can’t get any more capable or any more exhilarating, so the goalposts are moved again. Even with just another 5hp compared to the last GT3 RS, the 992 feels a quantum leap forward in ability. Thanks to DRS, an almighty amount of downforce and an array of incredible (and adjustable) chassis technology, this 911 can lap the Nordschleife within 1.5 seconds of an AMG GT Black Series - which has another 195hp and 150lb ft. Porsche says it’d be quicker than a Cup car on the same tyres. Honestly, watch the ‘ring video, where it laps 10 seconds faster than a GT3, and attempt to comprehend what’s going on. The things Porsche has done with a rear-engined platform beggars belief - the turn-in is out of this world, for one - especially when you consider how usable the GT3 RS remains on the road. Oh sure, it wanders on its aggressive camber and there’s a fair bit of din, but it’s never punishingly firm or unbearably aggressive. Maybe a bit much for an everyday 911, but it should definitely be a regularly driven one, to any and every circuit you can find. Because it’s epic. What on earth do they do next?
1. GT3 Touring
Choosing the best Porsche 911 on sale was agonisingly hard. For those regularly on track, it must be the RS, because there’s simply nothing else, in the 911 range or out of it, that combines so much circuit pedigree with that degree of civility. For those regularly off the (beaten) track, only the Dakar will do, as it’s a car that tackles spirited driving on- and off-road with genuine aplomb. For us, however, all that a 911 does so very well is best represented by the GT3 Touring. Because to most folk apart from the social media spec obsessives, it’s another 911 on the road, one to be parked up and driven around like a Carrera. Yet underneath the fairly unassuming exterior is one of the great modern sports cars, a 510hp, 9,000rpm celebration of Porsche’s GT department at its very best. Which makes for an unbeatable combination as far as we’re concerned. Maybe in its 992 iteration the Touring won’t be the cult classic that the manual-only, extremely limited 991 was, but from a PH perspective it’s the best 911 around. Until we’ve sampled an S/T, that is…
1 / 13