Opinion: Are there too many Porsche 911s?
Don’t worry. I’m not about to spend the next few minutes of your life bemoaning the fact that the Porsche 911, Zuffenhausen’s most famous export, has been a massive sales success over its 52-year lifespan.
No, instead I am taking issue with the frankly ridiculous size of the current Porsche 911 line-up. If you walk into a Porsche Centre today with the wish to buy a new neunelfer, you will be faced with 21 different flavours of the 991 generation.
There are a total of 15 different varieties that wear the fabled ‘Carrera’ badge, with rear and four-wheel drive versions of the basic Carrera, warmed-up Carrera S and excellent Carrera GTS.
In rear-drive form, each of the above is available in Coupe and Cabriolet forms while the choice is even more expansive on the 991 Carrera 4’s platform with the additional Targa body style.
At the top of the Porsche 911 tree, the options are similarly expansive, with Coupe and Cabriolet versions of the 991 Turbo and Turbo S on one branch, and the track-focussed 911 GT3 and GT3 RS on the other (the latter duo only available as Coupes).
It’s a world away from the earliest days of the neunelfer when there was only one model for those wanting a rear-engined, flat six sports car. Even when the range was expanded later in the pre-impact era, the choice sat at just three models: 911, 911L and 911S (eventually becoming the 911T, 911E and 911S).
On the one hand, variety is the spice of life. Porsche 911 enthusiasts are a notably diverse bunch so the fact that there is 991 model for every personality and application certainly helps when it comes to satisfying customers demands.
Want to quickly cruise, roof down, to south of France in comfort? The Porsche 991 Turbo is the car for you. Alternatively, you may want an uncompromising machine to satisfy your track day habit. In that case, step forward the new 911 GT3 RS.
The case for diversification is certainly strong, especially at the top of the Porsche 911 tree. The differences between the various models at this end of the scale are more pronounced meaning that each variant feels markedly different to its alternatives.
However, head down into the murky Carrera-filled waters and it can be a confusing experience. It’s no wonder that, whenever a new 911 model is released, those outside the Porsche community semi-seriously question how it is any different to the numerous other versions.
For example, is there really any need for three different levels of Carrera (Carrera, Carrera S and Carrera GTS)? When I first jumped into the latest 4 GTS I initially struggled to see how it was any better than a more normal Carrera 4S. And, thanks to my job, I’ve become carefully attuned to the minute differences.
Paring back the Carrera ranks may actually help to inject some ‘specialness’ back into Porsche’s bread-and-butter range by making the steps between models more distinct. While it may mean that certain customers’ tastes are not catered for perfectly, it may put an end to what some see as money-spinning specials created by the money men rather than the talented engineers at Weissach.
What do you think? Do you like the huge choice currently on offer? Or would you like to see the Porsche 911 range simplified? Join the debate in the comments below, or head to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.