People always joke that Porsche has just been making the same car, the Porsche 911, with marginal improvements for decades, but that just isn’t true. It actually makes a seemingly infinite number of variants of the 911, and it’s gotten so confusing the company produced a video to educate us.
It’s admittedly confusing trying to keep a clear idea of what the difference between a Porsche 911 trim is and what a Porsche 911 package is. For example, the 911 GT3 Touring is just a package, despite getting the full badge treatment on the back of the car, but the 911 Carrera Touring is called the Carrera T, and is considered its own trim.
Even in this video, Porsche just calls each car a derivative of the standard 911, but if you check out its website, the cars in this vid are clearly meant to be the different tiers of trims you can get.
The 911 nomenclature follows a loose pattern of model, which would be 911, then body type, so Carrera, GT3, Targa, etc., then drive layout if it’s all-wheel drive, which adds the 4 in Carrera 4 and Targa 4S, then usually ends with a designation for the engine and equipment options, so S for Turbo S or RS for the GT3 RS.
The 911 Carrera is the base model of the car, then the Cabriolet is the fabric convertible version. Those are rear-wheel drive, where the Carrera 4 is the all-wheel drive. The Carrera T is described in the video as the “essence” of the 911, focusing on the essential aspects of driving and slotting just under the Carrera S.
The Carrera S has more power and enhanced tech, like optional all-wheel steering. The Carrera GTS is the sportiest everyday 911. The 911 Targa is only all-wheel drive, and essentially the hardtop convertible 911.
Then there’s the 911 Turbo and Turbo S, which were named as such back in the day because they exclusively came fitted with a turbocharger. Since most 911s are turbocharged now, it just designates a sportier style with a wider track and more powerful model.
The 911 GT are the track-focused road cars, starting with the GT3, which is still naturally aspirated. The GT3 RS is even more refined to produce more power and get around a track faster, in part thanks to its lighter weight. Then the 911 GT2 RS is even more intense and instead of being naturally aspirated, it’s based on the Turbo S model. It’s the fastest road-legal 911 money can buy, for now.
Porsche wouldn’t make so many variations if they weren’t so popular, but there’s also an odd strictness to what Porsche can get away with changing on the iconic 911. Hardcore fans of the car essentially want a modern version of the original, which boxes in Porsche on what it can do with engines and styling, which is why every new generation just seems to get a little bigger and only slightly different.
But if Porsche goes and makes the 911 purists want, and then warps that car into all of these strange variations, they can satisfy everyone. The only downside is a somewhat confusing lineup.