For a lot of people, the Porsche 911 is the default semi-pricey sports car. It’s what the successful doctor/lawyer/dentist buys when they’ve made it, and it’s been the subject of effusive praise in the automotive press since it hit the scene in the 1960s. It’s a great car and to varying degrees always has been. It’s also always been something of a value, at least when compared to comparable “exotic” sports cars. Depending on spec, a 911 could have been the cheapest and or fastest way into a real deal European-style sporty car.
A new, base-model 911 now starts at $101,200. I believe that’s the first time that a new 911 has broken the six-figure mark, though for a while all that’s been necessary to get there is an option or two. That sounds outrageous, until you consider it in the context of what else is out there. And by “what else is out there,” I mean, what other cars cost. There’s still a Corvette and a handful of other, cheaper, faster cars.
But I don’t think any of them are really what the person who buys a base 911 is after — and the cheapest Ferrari, the Portofino M, will still cost you about twice as much. I’d even argue that a base 911 is a cooler car — though it’s now PDK only. You have to step up to a Carrera S (base price: $117,000) to get a manual transmission, but at least Porsche still offers a manual transmission.
So, in paragraph three, we get to the question of whether it’s worth it. To me, the simple answer is no. I would never buy a two-pedal road-going sports car. (I reserve the right to revisit this if I ever come into 720S money.)
I would say a Carrera S manual is more than worthy of consideration, and I would also say that at this price, and in roughly this exact spec, this base car is worth it for someone that doesn’t view the transmission thing as a deal breaker. The car I drove had optional Gentian Blue Metallic paint ($840), the extended range fuel tank ($230), Sport Exhaust ($2950), Sport Chrono ($2790), Adaptive Sport Seats ($3830), and Porsche’s Premium Package ($5,350). I’d say the Sport Exhaust and Sport Chrono are essential options. If I was buying a base car, I’d probably skip the rest of it.
In this spec, the interior has some plastic, a lot of the stuff that’s standard on the typical Hyundai is optional, but fundamentally it’s a great chassis with enough power (and launch control magic) to run to sixty in just over 3-seconds.
Unless you want a Chevy or a Mopar, going faster is going to cost you more. This is going to sound silly, but because cars pretty much all carry very high price tags now, the base 911 is a relatively good deal—provided you can find one at MSRP.
But regardless of its place relative to other cars, it’s comfortable, fast, sounds great, looks great and — I think most importantly to the person who wants this car — it’s a new Porsche 911. When they said “There Is No Substitute,” they were thinking about a particular type of guy who isn’t going to buy a Corvette no matter what. Update: Commenters have mentioned the Evora and the F-Type, which I think are both in the same general consideration set as the 911 and both fully worthy of consideration. The Z4 came up, but I think that’s probably closer to a Mercedes SL than a 911.
Yes, $100k is an absurd amount of money to spend on a car for all but a few people. But recalling that the average transaction price for a new car is now over $40k, what we’re really asking is “is a base Porsche 911 more than twice as desirable as the average car?” I think it pretty obviously is. Is it as desirable as a very nice 964? That’s a better question.