“What car should I buy?” It’s a question consumers ask themselves every day, but what would international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie drive? Keep reading for the answer, and see other editors’ picks here.
My version of the American dream? A Porsche 911 in the garage. And now that the kids are gone and the house is nearly paid off, I can almost see it there, glinting seductively under the lights. But which 911? I’d love a GT2 RS, the 691-hp alpha-dog of the current lineup, the most explosively epic expression of the 911 you can drive on the road. There’s just one not-so-tiny problem: At $293,200, it’s way out of my price range.
Fortunately, my second favorite 911 is less than a third the price. The first time I drove the entry-level, rear-drive Carrera I came away smitten. It might have only 370 horsepower, but its 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine is every bit as charismatic as a Porsche flat-six should be (the Carrera S and 4S are shown here). And there’s a bewitching delicacy in the crispness of the throttle response, the precision of the steering, the beautifully calibrated pedal weight, the light-footed manner in which the chassis dances down the road. You don’t so much drive this 911 as caress it, and it flows like molten silver.
Sure, there are quicker 911s. But out in the real world, on real-world roads, this entry-level model—a car still capable of 183 mph, mind you—is as joyously engaging as any of them.
Porsche is a master of temptation, offering no fewer than five optional alloy wheels, four optional interior trim materials, and eight optional interior colorways for the Carrera. You can spend less than $200 apiece on decorative doodads like an aluminum-look gas cap or black gloss door handles. Or you can drop $8,520 on carbon-ceramic brakes. For $11,430 you can even get it painted a custom color. There’s no need. The Carrera is perfect out of the box.
The 911 has always been one of the few cars to wear white well, so I’d take my Carrera in white, one of the four no-cost standard colors (the others are black, Guards Red, and Racing Yellow), and I’d keep the standard 19-inch alloys, a simple, good-looking twin-five-spoke design shod with meaty 235/40 tires up front and 295/35s at the rear. I’d keep it basic inside, too, with plain black partial leather trim. No fancy colored seat belts or instrument dials, and I’d pass on the excellent $5,300 Burmester audio system. It’s wasted in any 911.
As much as I love it, I wouldn’t bother spending $3,210 for the superb PDK dual-clutch transmission, as the standard seven-speed stick is perfectly suited to the Carrera’s mood and manners. I wouldn’t bother with the $2,090 Sport Chrono pack, either, as the car is just as quick to 60 mph without it, according to Porsche’s own numbers.
For $92,350 I get an automotive icon that’s been lovingly polished, honed, refined, and reimagined for more than half a century. The entry-level Carrera is Porsche’s lodestar in its simplest, purest form. And it’s a genuine 24/7 supercar, just as at ease mooching out for a morning coffee as it is carving turns on a winding backroad. I know it will have me tingling in anticipation every time I reach for the key.
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