For more than five decades there has been one car that has continually defined what the term “sports car” meant. It is a name that has created legends, won races and taken lives; and now it was parked in my driveway. I was going to drive the holy grail; I was handed the keys to a Porsche 911.

This model was a base 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 2. That means 350 horsepower, rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed manual transmission.

I have driven tons of incredible cars and even a few Porsches, but for some reason the keys to the 911 had always eluded me. This car was one of my all-time favorites; it was practically an idol to me, even when on paper it doesn’t seem very impressive. With only 350 horsepower and a quoted 0-to- 60 sprint of just 4.6 seconds, it is no faster than a V-8 Mustang, but it costs more than $90,000.

Is this a case of never meet your heroes? Can the 911 live up to the decades of hype that has been plastered across magazine pages and computer screens since I learned to read? It was a slightly cool and rainy Tennessee afternoon when the Guards Red coupe trundled softly into my drive. I calmly shut down the computer, put on my favorite driving shoes and went out to greet this legendary machine. It was mine for seven days and I intended to make the most of it; for better or for worse.

Read on to find out more about the 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera

  • 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    flat-6
  • Transmission:
    7-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    350
  • MPG(Cty):
    19
  • MPG(Hwy):
    27
  • Torque @ RPM:
    287
  • Displacement:
    3.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    179 mph
  • 0-100 time:
    10.4 sec.
  • Layout:
    Rear engine, RWD
  • Price:
    84300
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The original 911 that debuted in 1963 had a shape that was defined by purpose.

The current 991-generation is different from the old 997 in every way. No two body panels are interchangeable, the car is longer, wider and lower, and the rear-mounted engine has been pushed farther forward than it ever has been in the past. Despite all that, 90-percent of the population wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and a model that was a decade old.

And I think that is perfectly fine. I love it actually.

The original 911 that debuted in 1963 had a shape that was defined by purpose. It was created to enhance all the strong features of the 911, not to be a handsome car that would impress your neighbors. It was form following function and even 50 years later it is still stunningly beautiful. The swopping profile with its low nose and hunched rear end has been immortalized on bedroom walls for longer than I have been alive, and I see no real reason to change it.

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Exterior
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There have been some modernization over the decades, the car is larger in every dimension than it used to be, the round headlight housings host modern HID units, and the once necessary rear spoiler that aided downforce and cooling is now a motorized piece that activates at speed when you need it, and tucks away to reduce drag when you don’t.

If you take the time to look closely, the car is a thing of beauty. The rounded rear fenders that tuck tightly over the 11-inch-wide rear tires, the reflective vertical slats in the taillight housings, and the slightly angled exhaust tips all add up to create a machine that is more than the sum of its visual parts.

Still. That shape stayed the same; if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.

Interior

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Interior
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2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Interior
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2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven High Resolution Interior
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Every control that is important to the act of driving has been placed in close proximity and at an easily reachable location.

Open the door to the 911, step over the silver kickplate emblazoned with the “Carrera” script, and slot yourself into the leather bucket seat. After a few small adjustments of the power-operated seat, it will feel like Porsche sent a seat fairy to your house in the middle of the night to create the seat specifically for you. The bolsters are not large, but the sculpting of the seat itself seems to hug you like family. Thanks to the low nose — possible because there is no engine up front — the large windshield opens the world before you. Forward visibility is incredible.

Every control that is important to the act of driving has been placed in close proximity and in an easily reachable location. The shifter for the seven-speed manual is close to the wheel, and slightly raised to make it a quick reach from the steering wheel, the controls for the active exhaust, traction control, spoiler activation and sport mode are directly below the shifter. There are four stalks for the wipers, in-dash computer control, cruise control and indicator lights that all hover behind the optional sport steering wheel. There are no actual controls on the wheel itself.

The gauge cluster similarly follows the idea of maximizing driving. The center gauge is a large rev-counter, to the left is speed, and to the right is the customizable LCD screen. Further out from that you find the supplementary gauges like fuel, coolant temp, oil temp and battery voltage.

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Interior
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All of the secondary features found in the 911, which there are surprisingly few, are smartly organized and situated in the center console. There is one large screen for handling all of the infotainment functions, and below that a few buttons and a pair of knobs handling all of the various functions like CD playback, SiriusXM radio and Bluetooth phone control. Below that, directly in front of the shifter, you find controls for the dual-zone climate control. Aside from buttons for the seat heater, there is precious little else in the cabin to interact with. There is no sunroof, no backup camera, no lane keep assist, no blindspot monitoring, no driver-alert functions. I’m half surprised to see power operated windows with how Spartan the cabin is. I love it.

The color palette is pretty cave like with black leather on black leather on black leather with black Alcantara on the roof. The only break is the silver trim that runs across the dash and on the door panels.

Drivetrain

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Interior
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This machine only weighs 3,050 pounds. That is more than 250 pounds less than a new C7 Corvette.

Providing motivation for this 911 is the traditional flat-six engine that has called the 911 home since its inception. The engine in the standard 911 Carrera is a 3.4-liter unit that uses direct injection and VarioCam Plus variable valve timing to produce 350 horsepower and 287 pound-feet of torque. Porsche claims that with the seven-speed manual transmission the 911 will hit the 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, but during my testing, I found the number is closer to 4.3 ticks. Top speed is quoted at 179 mph, but I didn’t have the facility to test that claim. Part of the car’s performance comes down to its weight. This machine only weighs 3,050 pounds. That is more than 250 pounds less than a new C7 Corvette.

The standard transmission is a proper three-pedal manual, and while every other company seems out to kill the manual, Porsche enhanced its with a seventh gear. The tallest ratio is only for highway cruising to save fuel, and to keep you from grabbing the wrong gear when on the track, seventh gear has a lockout and can’t be reached unless you are coming from fifth or sixth. That means no fourth to seventh mess-ups.

Like the Porsche Cayman I drove previously, the shifter for the 911 has longer-than-expected throws, but the weighting and precision is perfect. It is a delight to use. The clutch is the same way. It is heavier than you expect, and a much longer pedal travel than feels necessary, but it is easy to feel the bite point, and it never feels laborious to swap through the cogs.

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Interior
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Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Sadly, my fuel economy was far from stellar. Over the week I had the 911, I averaged around 21.5 mpg. Of course, there were multiple instances of my driving at highway speeds in third gear just to hear the engine wail as it approached its near 8,000-rpm redline.

So, you know, your mileage may vary.

Pricing

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Emblems and Logo Interior
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Buying a Porsche 911 has never really been a cheap proposition and that still holds true for the 2014 model. The cheapest new 911 you can buy is a Carrera 2, and it comes with a base MSRP of $84,300. Our car had precious few options, with the only notable items being the Sport Exhaust system for a price of $2,950 — it is worth every penny by the way — and the 14-way, power sport seats with memory package for $2,320. After a few more ancillary items like the SportDesign steering wheel and the Destination charge, our tester rang up to a final price of $92,185.

Driving Impressions

The “special sauce” of the 911 has always been how it drives. It seems that everyone who finds themselves holding the keys to one can’t help but talk about how crisp everything feels, how analog it seems to be, how it is all about tingling your senses.

Turns out that they are right.

The 911 is a visceral machine that focuses on feel and precision over outright power and speed. Again, this car is more than $90k, has almost no options, and only rings in at a paltry 350 horsepower. Still, shift one gear or take one turn and instantly you will understand. In many ways, the Carrera seems to be a sibling to the Mazda Miata. Both cars focus on the sensations of driving, and they both manage to do more with less. They are hyper-focused cars with incredible handling and great feel. The Carrera is a Miata turned up to 11, and I mean that in the best possible way.

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The 911 also drives like nothing else I have ever driven. Despite having its engine pushed so far forward it is practically a mid-engine car now, there is a still a lot of weight sitting between the car’s seductive hips, and you can feel it in every turn. You swing the wheel and the nose darts in with a wicked fierceness; stand on the throttle and the whole car squats and throws you out of the corner. The point of inertial rotation seems to sit in the back seat, reminding you that there is a massive engine sitting out back just waiting to bite you. Despite that feeling, the car never fought back regardless of hard I really pushed it. Of course, when you have 11-inch-wide rubber under the rear fenders, and less than 300 pound-feet of twist under your right foot, it is hard to get things out of shape.

In fact, I found it essentially impossible to do a burnout in the 911, or engage in any real form of tomfoolery. You can set the car in first, turn off all traction aids and then stand on the throttle. Even if you are bouncing off the rev-limiter, you can drop the clutch and the car will just hook and launch. Aside from the acrid smell of smoldering clutch, there is no sign you didn’t just mosey away from that stop sign that is now hundreds of yards behind you.

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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This machine is not as much of a car as it is that best-friend that your significant other despises. You know, the enabler; the one who coaxes you into doing stupid things. Every mile that rolled by in the 911 gave me more confidence to push harder, go faster, brake later, turn in quicker. Every gear shift made me want to disregard silly notions like personal safety and local laws. All I ever wanted to do was push harder and harder until either the car or I gave up. I can tell you that the meat-bag in control of things would have been the first to break.

If you press the small button that activates the sport exhaust, the urges get worse. The noise goes up in volume and ferocity. Press the sport button and the throttle gets more responsive. I am honestly surprised I was not arrested at some point during the week. I pushed this machine harder than I have pushed any car I have ever had in my possession and it just laughed at my infantile driving skills.

Things aren’t perfect, though. I was annoyed on occasion at the lack of power, not so much because the car needed it, but because I wanted it. I hate that even if I push my seat uncomfortably close to the steering wheel, I couldn’t sit in the “back seats” for more than 15 minutes. I hate that everywhere I go people make snide faces and gestures simply because I am driving a car with the Porsche Crest on the nose. I also don’t enjoy dumping gasoline into the nose of the car because I can’t seem to stop taking every gear to redline just to hear the flat-six wail. The “old school” car owner inside me hates that I can’t access the engine to do any real maintenance myself.

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven Exterior
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Then there comes the issue with wet-weather performance. While the car is completely unflappable in the dry, once things get wet those wide tires turn into pontoons, and the lack of efficient water evacuation on the Eagle F1 summer tires doesn’t help much. Since it rained for most of my week with the 911, I got really familiar with the foul-weather handling. Things are much looser, the back end constantly teases you about whipping around to say hello, and hydroplaning becomes a major issue. And yet, I still had a blast. The extra twitchiness made the car feel more alive, and was more rewarding to push. Suddenly the safety net provided by those 11-inch-wide tires is gone. The car gets teeth, and it wants to bite. I loved it even more. Don’t misjudge this as a safety issue. The car is not "dangerous" when it rains, it just takes more concentration and a bit more precision.

In honesty though, all these quibbles are incredibly minor. Even the wet-weather problem could be solved with different rubber, and I still never even spun the thing. I am forcing myself to look for problems. The simple truth is that I am completely infatuated with this machine. Price be damned, I want one.

Competition

Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 High Resolution Exterior
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Let’s cut right to the chase with the Z06. This machine has 650 horsepower coming from a supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8. It will hit 60 mph in less than three seconds, and it will eclipse 200 mph if it is given enough room to run. It offers all this, along with more practical cargo space than the 911, and it does it all for a full $10,000 less than the Porsche. There is almost no measurable statistic in which the 911 can claim superiority over the Corvette unless you count the number of seats.

From the street to the track, Porsche has the most difficult fight its legendary nameplate has ever faced with this new Chevy. There are rumors that the standard 911 will come packing 400 turbocharged horsepower in the next few years, but currently this Corvette is going to make it hard on the Germans.

Porsche Cayman GTS

2015 Porsche Cayman GTS High Resolution Exterior
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If you don’t mind losing the rear seats of the 911, you can have just about all your Porsche dreams come true with the 911’s cheaper sibling. The new Cayman GTS is only 10 horsepower down on the Carrera, and it matches it in the 0-to-60 run. It does sacrifice 2 mph to the 911, but at 177 mph it is still faster than almost any other German car you can buy. Best of all, its $75,000 MSRP means you have a full $15k to spend on options and luxury extras, before you hit our testers nearly base-level price.

With the Cayman you get 90-percent of the go-fast with the addition of lots of extra bonus options and features. It even has the arguably superior mid-engine platform to help with handling. It makes you wonder how many sales the big Porsche loses every year to its smaller sibling.

Conclusion

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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The 2014 Porsche 911 lives up to much of the hype that come attached to the badge. Even being the most basic model available, the car felt special in all the right ways. The handling is unlike anything else I have driven, the noise is intoxicating, and every mile I drove it only made me want to drive it more. It really is a unique experience that I think every petrol-head needs to have at least once. That said, $90k is the most incredible amount of money to ask for a car that in many ways is little more than a really good Miata. With cars like the Corvette Z06 being offered for cheaper, and the mighty GT-R being little more than a stone’s throw away in price, I can’t think of any logical reason why anyone would ever buy a simple Carrera.

I’ve never been one to let logic dictate my actions though. I’d take this thing home without a moment’s hesitation if I had the means.

  • Leave it
    • Rear seats are a joke
    • Engine is all but completely inaccessible
    • $92k is a lot for a car with only 350 horsepower
What do you think?
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