By on April 23, 2013

I used to work for Porsche. You already know this because I mention it in most of my stories, hopeful that you will go tell your friends “TTAC has a guy who used to work for Porsche!” to which they will reply: “Used to? Road & Track has fifty people who still do.”

Just kidding. The cars get good reviews because they’re damn good. I know this because when I worked at Porsche I had several 911 company cars, and the ones I didn’t crash drove tremendously. This sentiment was not echoed by my rear seat passengers, who often said things like: “This is really cramped!” or “You want to give this up to be a blogger?”

When I worked there, I had two main questions on my mind at all times. Traditionally popular in the morning, the first one was: “Can I get away with a two-hour lunch today?” But when I got back from lunch around 2:30, the rest of the day was spent pondering the second one: “What the hell competes with the 911?”

A Brief History of 911

To help answer this question, let’s take a walk down 911 memory lane. Some of you are saying: “Yes! Porsche!” whereas others have already tuned out and are thinking: “I hope Steve Lang writes something today.”

For those in the second category (which includes my mother), I’ll be brief. Here’s a basic rundown of the 911. It came out in 1963 as a rear-engined sports car back when there was no such thing as a rear-engined sports car because that would be stupid. In other words, it was exactly like today.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Porsche did things to make it even cooler. This included the “whale tail” spoiler, the Fuchs wheels (rhymes with “Lukes,” which I learned the hard way), and a turbocharged model that was famous for killing like OJ Simpson, and in a similarly violent manner.

But at some point between 1989 and 2013, Porsche ruined it, which can be confirmed by any purist who owns a 30-year-old 944 with fading paint. Unfortunately, purists can’t agree on exactly when this happened. Some will say the 1990 debut of Tiptronic. Others, the 1999 arrival of the water-cooled 996 with its ugly headlights. Further nominees include the 2003 Cayenne (which isn’t even really related to the 911) and the all-new GT3 which now comes solely with PDK.

Regardless of your view on when it happened, the simple fact is that the 911 is no longer the sports car it once was. Instead, it now lives in a blended world of sports car and grand tourer. So what exactly competes with it?

Potential Candidates

When I ask people this question, I get various answers, all said with tremendous confidence. I will now debunk each of them, using my favorite argument style: the one where I list things and describe why they’re right or wrong. These arguments are typically very solid in that they often stand, enshrined in perfection, until the very first comment.

Mercedes SL-Class: On paper, the SL-Class seems like a perfect competitor in the “overpriced grand tourer” segment. Similar performance numbers. Similar pricing. Similar old male buyers who cruise below the speed limit while looking around to see if anyone’s noticing them. But in practice, the SL’s vague steering and squishy ride means it doesn’t come close.

BMW 6-Series: The 6-Series is the reigning king of the “overpriced grand tourer” segment. It would be the perfect competitor, except for the fact that it weighs as much as a medium-sized Sheraton Gateway.

Chevrolet Corvette: The Corvette is actually a reasonable match in a lot of ways – and with every new iteration of the ‘Vette, driving experience is increasingly one of them. But the $50k Corvette isn’t cross-shopped with the 911, which costs $90k, or $2.4 million with options.

Nissan GT-R: The GT-R should be the ultimate 911 competitor. It costs as much as a Carrera S, but it has the performance of a Turbo. I’ve driven a GT-R, and it’s just as balanced as any Porsche, or Ferrari. It does have “soul.” But … it’s a Nissan. And no one grew up with posters of Nissans on their bedroom walls. Say what you will, but at $100k, brand value plays a role in your car decision.

In other words: the 911, a car that is largely responsible for making Porsche the most profitable automaker in the world, plays in a segment without competition.

Or Does It?

After much post-lunch deliberation, I’ve concluded that the 911 has just two competitors: the Boxster and the Cayman.

That’s right: Porsche’s own “baby” sports cars are the only legitimate challengers to the 911’s sports car throne. On paper, the numbers seem to agree. Acceleration times are similar. Horsepower isn’t that far off, and power-to-weight is even closer. The mid-engine Boxster and Cayman have physics on their side. And most importantly, they’re a whole Corvette cheaper than a reasonably optioned 911.

But my argument falls apart when paper turns to practice for one major reason: image. The 911 may be twice the price, but its owners justify the cost because it’s twice the cool. That may be. But for people who don’t mind the “poor man’s Porsche” jokes, save some money and go buy yourself a Boxster. And for God’s sake: do it before Porsche ruins it.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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127 Comments on “Does The Porsche 911 Have Any Competitors?...”


  • avatar

    Any car that costs about as much, goes about as fast and looks about as good. Other Porsches compete with the 911 as well, but this is ok.

    Less easily answered: what competes with the GT-R?

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    I was surpised I didn’t see anything for the Z4 sdrive35is?

    Did I really just rattle off that name correctly?

    • 0 avatar

      Ridiculously named indeed. But more of a Boxster competitor. The M3 should possibly be on the list.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I think the only real answer would be the M3 and the RS5, maybe the C AMG (Does it come in a coupe?) as well. I know those 3 really compete amongst each other, but on price, performance, prestige, luxury, etc. they all run up against the 911. All are fast and straddle the line between sports and grand touring.

        The Jag F-type does/will as well, but I’ll be surprised if they can ever hit near the volume levels where one might actually call them “competing”.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Porsche is the reigning king of this segment and indeed up until now its been competing with itself. But having seen the new Jaguar F type and heard the v8 version then I have to say my money would head Jaguars way. The new Jag looks way more exciting than anything Porsche makes and stands out partly because its not another Porsche…. Though I accept beauty is in the beholder

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Tsag – -

      You beat me to it. As I was reading the article, I also thought of the new Jag F-type, especially since the V-8 version is rumored to be coming out (eventually) with a manual transmission.
      And it will have (and even now does have) something the Porsche 911 does not: sheer heart-thumping beauty!

      ——————–

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      The F-Type is a good looking car so it competes in that realm but I fear driving feel will not come close to a Porsche.

      Additionally, the F-Type doesn’t offer a manual or DCT option even though Jaguar is holding it up to be a true sports car.

      Lastly, it’s kinda heavy for what it is.

      So while I agree it’s a looker it still has a ways to go.

      • 0 avatar
        Tstag

        Think the F type looks a million times better than any Porsche and I prefer the interior of the Jag it looks classy. So tha leaves handling and performance. Whilst the Porsche may be a bit ahead its not a long way ahead. So me? I’d buy the Jag because looks and interiors are more important than performance and handling abilities I won’t use. It’s like if you want the bet offroaders you buy a Land Rover or a Land Cruiser but plenty of people still buy an Audi

    • 0 avatar
      akatsuki

      First – I just don’t get the looks argument – it is basically a miata with a little bit of Nissan Z thrown in. Just not terribly interesting. Sad that their sedans actually look better.

      Second – isn’t the F-type heavy?

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      F-type is heavy, ambitiously priced, front engined and will have the reliability of a Jag. I doubt even with as good as it looks and sounds it will match the driving and handling ability of a Porsche. People that own Porsches love to them death and are fanatical about them.

      I have a buddy that has owned everything under the sun, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Audi, Panteras, M5s, GT-Rs, everything I can think of. The only car he has ever kept and not sold after all these years is his 993 Turbo. My cousin owns a bio tech company and can afford anything and I think he is on his second or third Cayman S now.

      I think initially the F-Type will sell well and then people will go back to buying Porsches. Whenever the new Boxster Spyder comes out, that will be the one I buy.

  • avatar
    ezeolla

    What about an R8?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Bingo, the Iron Man Audi exactly correct. It doesn’t just compete with the 911, it wins. Tony Stark is every 911 owner’s personal hero, but he doesn’t drive a 911.

  • avatar

    You missed one: Aston’s V8 Vantage, which also costs $2.4 million with options (and will soon be available for $30k used, if past is any prologue).

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    *EDIT* Full disclosure, I responded to the title w/o reading the article. Glad we agree.

    Easy. The Boxster/Cayman.

    As much as I dislike the growth and Panamerification of the 991, you gotta admit… for a car to have basically remained the same weight and inflation adjusted price for over 20 years while

    - nearly doubling its base HP
    - jumping ahead 2-3 classes in performance
    - increasing MPG
    - significantly increasing content
    - becoming significantly safer

    is a pretty impressive feat. Couple that with the fact that you can get a Cayman for like half of the inflation adjusted price of a new base 964, which will perform about the same and be cheaper + safer + nicer to own, you can’t help but give Porsche props.

    For all the flack Jack and TTAC gives Porsche they are prob the best sports car company in existence.

    Nobody… NOBODY… NOBODY!!!!… has a line that has stayed as true to its roots and the enthusiast creed as Porsche has with the 911, for as long as it has been around. They aren’t perfect, but barring an NSX, Elise, or Cayman you can’t get a better mix of performance and “purity” for the money. I would love to buy a 996 w/a dead motor to own one day. Dead motor so I can get it at a bargain price and ensure safety from the dreaded RMS/IMS failure (and possibly of course rebuild for more performance).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      OK after having gone back and read the article… I take issue with the idea that the 911 was “ruined” or has changed from a pure sports car to a waffly GT. The 991 is a bit girthy but still. Lets put things in context and look at its competitors:

      SL- the SL actually was once a sports car, and now is anything but.

      6 Series- is what it is… a GT, though it has lost its BMWness with the current version.

      Corvette- through refinement has gone through the same type of (good) transformation the 911 has- broadened functionality w/o the loss of ability or purpose. It is the American 911.

      GT-R- is what it has always been, but significantly uglier and heavier.

      The original 911 was a MFC (to borrow a term from Brother’s printer/scanner/copier line)- a multi-functional car. It was never a purely raw sports car… it was a GT with the abilities and agility of a sports car. Or a sports car with the refinement and high speed stability of a GT. Which is pretty much exactly what it is today, just updated to modern standards.

      I do think the Cayman is prob the best Porsche of all time, and even though I just said I would try and rebuild a 996 realistically if I were to get a Porsche it would be an old Cayman S. But only because it offers pretty much everything a same year Carrera does for less money. The 911 is still the one I’d really want…

      • 0 avatar

        My view: just because the competitors are huge doesn’t give the 911 an excuse to be. To me, the 991 is MUCH too large, as was the 997. I think the 996 I had was absolutely perfect. The new cars are aimed at folks who want luxury. Like the Range Rover, they can still DO what they’re intended to do. But like the Range Rover, they will never be asked to.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I guess there isn’t a sufficient market for the 911 to have remained a sports car, but the move into the personal luxury segment means that they do get traded in on Mercedes-Benz SLs and other cars that are more golf-bag friendly.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The 996 and 997 were within 1″ of each other in every dimension (well except width). A lot of folks actually have swapped 997 faces and tails onto their 996s. For all intents and purposes the 997 is really a 996.5… a really thorough facelift/MMC.

          991 is big but lets keep things in perspective. Still smaller in wheelbase than a Toyota Yaris, let alone any of its competitors (including the Evora). Still significantly lighter than the average car, and a good 1000lb lighter than its most direct competitors. Also slightly lighter than the 997 it replaced (depending on trim). So within the context of 911s, the 991 is a bit of a blunt pig; but compared to its competitors its an all day Lotus Elise.

          People have been declaring the end of the 911 with every successive generation. But objectively the cars are better than ever, full stop. And Porsche has remained truer to the car’s defining ethos more than any other automotive line in existence, full stop. I mean, aside from the Corvette and Evora, you can’t even get any of the 911′s competitors with stickshift, for example. And the manual in the Evora is horrible. So all things considered, and 911 perfectionist lenses off, the 911 is a truly great car and the last of a dying breed. It’s the lightest, smallest, track worthiest thing in its class, second only to to its mid engined siblings.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The wheelbase may be shorter than competitors that don’t have their engines contained between their front and rear wheels, but the overall length is now 176.4 inches. That’s between four and six inches longer than a Lamborghini Gallardo and two inches longer than a Corvette C6. Compared to the original 911, it is more than a foot longer on a 9.5 inch longer wheelbase. It is also 10 inches wider. It’s only the smallest, lightest, track worthiest thing in its class if you choose to narrowly define its class.

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      “Nobody… NOBODY… NOBODY!!!!… has a line that has stayed as true to its roots and the enthusiast creed as Porsche has with the 911″

      What about Morgan ?…..the 4-wheel version of course.

      OK, the 3-wheeler too if you want an air-cooled vehicle like the early 911′s were.

      I’d say Lotus 7/Caterham beats the 911 for staying true to it’s roots and longevity.

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    No, but yes. The Audi R8 and the Boxster/Cayman.

  • avatar
    Mazda Monkey

    Hmm, what about V8 Vantage?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I know this dude, and he has a Mustang, and it is dope, yo! He goes looking for Porsches to pwn – lolz! The thing is so phat! He put on a CAI, added 52 HP. Then he got this chip from eBay, dude, 100 more HP! I got him a couple of Cobra emblems out of a junkyard, 50 HP each dawg! Last week we hack sawed the springs and it is slammed to the ground, ain’t no air getting under it.

    We pwn Porsches dawg, pwn!

  • avatar
    Tstag

    F type successor to the E type, questions? It’s the only car now in existence that competes. The V8 vantage is great but most car mags think the Jaguar XK is better……

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      F Type is outclassed on a track and in function. Its also a bit pointless in the context of the not-much-more-expensive-or-heavy XK.

      The only legit competitor I could honestly say is the Evora S. And I am not sure the things it does better than the 911 make up for the things it doesn’t.

  • avatar
    DCJeff

    Without passing judgment, I noticed the other day that my neighborhood Porsche dealer has an unusual number of Mustangs. All hard-top, of course. There are some BMWs of various flavors as well, but it used to be a combined Porsche/BMW franchise.

    Whether this is what future Porsche drivers trade in, or the way they get decent back seats without buying a Panamera, I have no idea.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’d argue that 90% of the population couldn’t tell the difference between a 911 and Boxter/Cayman if it drove by. And the new models make it even harder. Heck, I had a hard time distinguishing the two while standing at a Porsche dealer and seeing them parked nearly side by side. Save the money, buy a Cayman and a 911 badge.

    As an aside, we should take a moment to appreciate what a good writer Doug is. It is uncommon in the blogosphere to read this type of quality writing. I doubt we’ll be seeing it for too terribly long at TTAC before the big time calls.
    I’ll get off my knees now and wipe my face.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with your first point very much. But car people know- and that’s what people buy these things for. To look cool to other car people.

      To your second point, I greatly appreciate it. It would be hard to ever imagine leaving behind the B&B. These are the most sophisticated car commenters on the web. Especially the ones who appreciate my writing!

  • avatar

    “I cross-shopped a lot of options, but at the end of the day the Carrera S with the Wezersachmenchen package was really the best bang-for-the-buck”.
    –Said no one, ever.

    Anyone spending 911 money isn’t making the choice as a rational comparison of close competitors. They’re buying a 911/ZR1/GTR/Viper because they want a 911/ZR1/GTR/Viper.

    • 0 avatar
      eunos

      Now hold on, I resemble that remark!

      Before ending up with my 2012 C4S, I did cross shop. The criteria were:

      AWD
      manual transmission

      and that’s pretty much it.

      Coming from a 2006 Mazdaspeed 6, lord knows I had an open mind. But my choices were limited to the 911, BMW 3 series, or an Impreza (oh, and Acura TL SHAWWWD, but although I tried to keep an open mind, I just couldn’t get past the beak).

      Everyone else offered a stick, or AWD, but never both in the same car. Witness CTS, 5 series, G37, etc etc etc.

      The 3 series left me cold, and I’m too old to drive a winged STI around, so by default was left with the C4S. Of course I won’t lie, I’ve wanted a 911 since I was a child, but I at least TRIED to be objective about it all…

      • 0 avatar
        bbbuzzy

        AWD with manual transmission is surely hard to find but you missed a few. Mini Paceman, Evo X, Golf R, S4. I haven’t driven it, but the S4 seems like a nice ride. Might be my next one!

        • 0 avatar
          bigd

          Just picked up a new S4 last week. Manual. AWD. Fast, agile, and luxurious. If you are looking at the 335, I highly recommend giving it strong consideration.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Certain cars are iconic, Ferrari, Corvettes and Porsche. I’d personally like to think Lotus is too. The folks who want and buy these cars don’t shop around. They only want those cars. They don’t care about “value” Sure there are exceptions, but those are people without a passion for cars.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I like the Cayman coupe’s design more than the 911, so it’s well worth saving the several thousand dollars to me.

  • avatar
    ash78

    According to the habits and perceptions of people on my local streets, I’d have to say either the 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse, or any Scion tC.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    What’s the point of this article? I almost never say anything bad about articles on here unless they are missing details or something.

    But this? This appears to be nothing more than kissing the ol’ bum of Porsche which I thought this site was dedicated to basically insulting all car makers equally.

    Do people cross shop a 911 and a Corvette? I’m sure some do, but just because people don’t cross shop a particular vehicle doesn’t mean it’s not a competitor. Especially these types of vehicles where value is highly placed due to track performance.

    So at the low end Corvette, Viper, GT-R, at the high end Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mclaren, Pagani, Koeneissig (however you spell it), Lexus F thingy and many others.

    Ferrari makes mid-engined cars with the engine behind the driver and let’s face it most people in that income bracket only know if they sit in front or behind the engine, not it’s location over the axle.

    This is just a fanboi article that I would expect to be posted in a Porsche forum.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “This is just a fanboi article that I would expect to be posted in a Porsche forum.”

      I agree, but I think it’s honest about being so.

    • 0 avatar

      If you think this one was pointless, then for God’s sake don’t click on my username and read the others.

    • 0 avatar

      “Do people cross shop a 911 and a Corvette? I’m sure some do, but just because people don’t cross shop a particular vehicle doesn’t mean it’s not a competitor.”

      I think that’s actually the definition of a competitor.

      To be clear, we’re talking sales competitor. If we were talking performance specs competitor, then a gutted e30 or late-model Mustang track rat counts too.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        No because a Chevy Malibu is considered a competitor to a Toyota Camry but I would bet that the vast majority of Camry buyers never cross-shopped a Malibu.

        Are you going to tell me they aren’t competitors?

        The Porsche 911 and Corvette occupy the same market segment. (well the lower end 911′s do) Which is a price/performance/type of vehicle market segment.

        Sports car, for $xx dollars with yy performance.

        In any sports car magazine shoot-out these cars are constantly put up against each other. Cross-shopping doesn’t even enter into the equation so I would say that your assertion of what a competitor is is incorrect.

        • 0 avatar

          Only in magazines is the definition of a competitor anything other than “cars that are cross shopped.” Automakers don’t give a shit about whether the performance is similar- they care only about whether the buyer is similar. And the Corvette buyer is not similar to the 911 buyer.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Ach! Scheisse! What was that….Reality?
            My shirt’s soaked!

          • 0 avatar
            slow_poke

            that’s insightful. ‘the buyer is similar’. got lots of money, want a “sports” car, typically wants a conservative choice that peers will understand. most peers wouldn’t understand EVO, or Corvette.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            I agree, I know quite a few super rich guys who can afford whatever and the Corvette guys have no interest in Porsches and the Porsche guys have no interest in Corvettes. If fact the Porsche guys have no interest in Ferraris or Lamborghinis either to be honest for the most part.

            One guy I knew, had to be worth over $100 million, had a pole barn filled with cars, including about 5 Corvettes from new to old. Asked him why he had no Lamborghinis, Ferraris or Porsches and he told me he bought a Lambo when he was younger, did not like it and only bought Corvettes since.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    What, the FR-S isn’t the obvious answer?

  • avatar

    Doug, your comment on the Mercedes was absolutely priceless. It just hits the nail so squarely on the head!

    If I ever have 100,000 USD to spend on a car, firstly I wouldn’t do it (sorry I think it’s lame). Secondly: of the cars offered I would probably get the Nissan. It has the brand that sucks the less. Again, sorry, but the only supercar brand that I like to see (would never own) is Ferrari. Now, if Nissan could just make the interior of the car less cold, I think it would be more appealing.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      It must be frustrating for marketers to try to break into the Tier 1 world where the brand is strong enough to be a Giffen good. Corvette, GT-R, and Viper still don’t attract the cognoscenti like the European marques, and seeing how China’s bourgeoisie look to the European model of luxury, it’s just going to reinforce itself.

      I personally have a rule: no European luxury. It’s rather easy to avoid LVMH/PPR/Richemont and all Euro car brands when so many American and Asian substitutes are so good, but I’m clearly in the minority.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        You’re not in the minority, the problem here is brand perception amongst people who are not car poeple.

        If you go to wall street and other suit types, the Americans just don’t carry the same weight in this class regardless of how well they do on the track. (most of the people making judgements have never even seen a racetrack)
        BUT in order to impress these know nothings you have to have the vehicles with the brand cache.

        What we should be talking about is how to get the brand cache into these brands so the know nothings are equally impressed with a Corvette or GT-R as a Porsche. I personally think that all of these vehicles are stunning technological achievements and I would be happy with any of them.

        Just so long as it had a manual shifter.

  • avatar

    I’d also nominate the Lotus Evora/S and the small Aston- whatever the hell they call it, the small V8 one.

    And the Maserati Coupe on the upper end.

  • avatar
    nutbags

    What about the Lotus Evora – mid-engine, 2+2 seating, 6-cylinder, sporty GT?

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Ariel Atom.

  • avatar
    JSF22

    I think you could make a pretty fair argument that all high-end sports cars, the 911 included, compete against boats, trips, vacation homes, and all the other ways we could throw away our money, as much as they do with each other. Once you’ve decided to spend your discretionary entertainment funds on a sports car, you buy the one that speaks to you the loudest, or that you think most says whatever you want said about yourself, or that for whatever reason you just plain like the best.

    All that said, I like Porsches, I’ve always liked Porsches, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few on and off over the years, and I recently decided I wanted another, probably my last, now that the kids seem to be gone. I love the new 911, but I chose a new Boxster instead. It was exactly half the money of a typically equipped 911 in dealer stock, and it sure is a lot more than half the car. So, yes, I agree with you that the Boxster is a real 911 competitor.

    Of course, the first person who complimented the car was an old biddy in a new Jag XJL. But I’m really happy with it anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      “I think you could make a pretty fair argument that all high-end sports cars, the 911 included, compete against boats, trips, vacation homes, and all the other ways we could throw away our money, as much as they do with each other.”

      Probably the best point so far.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    2.4 mil arghh argghh argh
    I’ve never driven a Cayman, BUT, I’ve never seen one where I thought, “Ohh. Couldn’t afford a 911.”
    On the other hand, when I see a new 911, I wonder why they didn’t they didn’t opt for the Cayman.

    • 0 avatar

      Funny, I have the same reaction.

      911 = Probably auto, probably kind of a douche
      Cayman = Man* of both means and taste. Likely driven as engineered to do.

      *No woman has ever purchased a Cayman.

      • 0 avatar
        George Herbert

        mad_science writes:
        “*No woman has ever purchased a Cayman.”

        Funny.

        Wife bought her RX-8 before I bought mine; when she did, she was alone at the dealer and reported “the salesperson was a little wide-eyed when I took it sideways through the corner” during the test drive.

        Cayman’s on the list. We’ll probably get one one of these days, if I fit in the front seats. She might well get it herself next time she’s car shopping without letting me come check if I fit first…

      • 0 avatar
        DanyloS

        Actually in the last 9ish (?) months in Philly ive seen pretty much only women driving around in Caymans. It almost became a surprise to see a guy driving one. Usually old men in 911′s and even older men in Boxters

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Ever since they started offering the limited slip in 2009, I don’t see any reason to get a 911 over a Cayman S aside from the prestige/heritage (read: douchiness) that the 911 embodies. If I wanted that feature I’d be buying a 911 made between 1983 and 1998, because those were rightly awesome.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Yes, absolutely, as that mysterious car that a young impressionable child can stand next to for hours admiring its lines and weird mechanicals and funny back seats, or that car that can cause your spine tingle because you just saw like 20 of them on a cold morning after a night of drinking in the middle of Cold War Moscow, nothing comes even close to 911.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Based on the shift in buying patterns that I’ve observed, the biggest competitor to the 911 is the Panamera. If Porsche made a Panamera-based new 928 with a usable back seat, nobody would buy the 911 anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Didn’t work that way when they first came out with the 928, why do you think things would be any different now? The Panamera sells to people who would NEVER buy a 911, for the most part. Same with the Cayenne. They broadened Porsches market.

      People buy the 911 because it is a 911. I do not think it competes with the Cayman/Boxster – those actually are sports cars, the 911 is a GT, and it always has been. I do think that there have been variants of the 911 that have been sports cars though – from the RS to the GT2/GT3. But a plain old 911 has never been a sports car. Sports cars do NOT have back seats, no matter how small they are for one thing.

      The 911 does sort of sit in a no man’s land by itself. There are cars that are more exotic and/or less user friendly like the Lotus Evora, the Aston Martin and R8, and then a bunch of cars that are cheaper without the snob appeal like the Corvette and Nissan Z. The M3 is kinda sorta but not quite a competitor – it is a little TOO user-friendly being a 2dr/4dr sedan and all. Then there is the GT-R which despite its certain stellar capabilities manages to be both more expensive AND lacking in snob appeal. And heinously ugly too.

      • 0 avatar

        Indeed, the R8 was forgotten.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I disagree – the R8 is not nearly as practical as a 911. Those back seats actually are useful if you have a small kid or two, and you can even stuff an adult back there if you have to. Plus FAR more luggage space in the 911 when 2-up.

          That really is the unique proposition that to my mind elevates the 911 above a lot of other contenders. Plus you can SEE out of a 911, and they are still rather compact, which makes them easier to place on the road (or track). And they have a decent amount of ground clearance, and are relatively good in the snow. As high-performance cars go, they are actually quite practical. I spent a good amount of my childhood in the back seat of one, actually.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I would say the Viper. They’re both fast, cost about the same, and have an active desire to kill their drivers.

    Although if we’re counting out vehicles with a lack cross-shoppers, we might count the Viper out. I think you’re right that for the most part, the competition that a prospective Porsche buyer is cross-shopping is in the same showroom.

  • avatar
    Mazda Monkey

    Also, the late model Toyota Highlander. I have seem some great videos recently of their tremendous acceleration and ability to damage garage doors.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    You can’t swing a dead cat in my office’s parking garage without hitting a 911. I really want to like the looks of the car, but I just don’t. It looks like a frog from the front, and the back looks weird with the sheet metal struggling to cover the back seat and engine. The new boxster is a far better looking car.

    If I had that kind of money to spend, I’d buy an Audi R8. Isn’t that a worthy competitor to the 911?

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Drive whatever floats your boat. However, being an ugly duckling has always been part of the 911 cult. Body so ugly and weird that “it actually looks good”, rear engined and air-cooled against the laws of physics, etc (granted, air-cooled no longer). Anything for the sake for preserving the heritage from the original 50s/60s Porsche cars.

  • avatar
    JMII

    A 350Z with twin turbos? At least its a similar shape. I’d guess the GT-R is the nearest, but with its AWD and NASA computers its not going to kill you like a 911. The 911 only really competes with other mid-engine super cars, like Lambos. So that rules out the Viper and Z06 as they have a standard RWD configurations. A 911 is a 911, it pretty much stands on its own thru history. Thus I’d say people buying them are using similar logic… they want a 911 so nothing else will do.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “The 911 only really competes with other mid-engine super cars, like Lambos.”

      But the 911 is not mid-engined so why does it only compete with mid-engined super cars?

      As for the 911 killing you…it went to finishing school…and with the improved electronics its previous darty nature is no longer in character.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    “It came out in 1963 as a rear-engined sports car back when there was no such thing as a rear-engined sports car because that would be stupid.”

    Not true, Porsche made a rear engined sports car from 1948 to 1965 called the 356.

    I do agree that the 911 has morphed into a luxury GT from its sports car origins. I think they started to go downhill in 1989. Before that they were light, scrappy simple cars. No power steering and manual transmissions (except for weird Sportomatic).

  • avatar
    1000songs

    I drive a 2006 9114S. The only thing that is going to compete with my 997 is a knocked up girlfriend.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    The GT-R is the 911 for anyone born after 1980. Video games like Grand Turismo, the Fast and Furious movies and the general popularity of import tuning over the last 15 years have catapulted the Skyline and its successor the GT-R to the top of the dream car heap for those under 35.

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      I’ll see your 35 and raise…I turned 46 last month and the GT-R is definitely the dream car for me.

      • 0 avatar
        fredtal

        He has a point. At 61 I’m not interested in the GT-R. But then I want a Lotus so what do I know.

        • 0 avatar
          Reino

          I was at a PCA race event last weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park and the owner of an entire team of 911 cup cars drove there in his GT-R. It was definitely the hottest looking car there without sponsor decals.

          Most people in the West don’t understand that the Skyline has just as much a legacy in Japan that the Corvette has in the USA and the 911 in Europe. It is a national symbol.

          • 0 avatar
            MK

            It’s just such a pity that it’s so LARGE and ugly looking.
            A guy at work has one and very time I see it, it leaves me cold.

            That being said, the 911 cabrio is equally hideous. Lol

          • 0 avatar
            bluetick

            I was there too on the track for the DE in my 1979 911SC. I got passed a lot on the track by a GT-R.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      Definitely not. Some know of it, if they’re gearheads. To everyone else it’s just a Nissan. I love Japanese cars, but by virtue of their own success it is very difficult for them to compete up-market. Branding matters for those intent on conspicuous consumption, regardless of age demographics.

  • avatar
    mvoss

    The problem with cross-shopping a Porsche vs. a different car is that you’re always paying a premium with Porsche and Porsche doesn’t really market its vehicles vs. another vehicle like other automakers do (probably because they can afford to make theirs so expensive).

    I do think that an M6 would match up pretty nicely with a 911 S. Both 2+2, both really sporty, around the same price and performance.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Lets forget what the 911 was and analyse what the 991 is today, a rear engined 928. Remember in the 70′s and 80′s porche ignored the 911 it was the past. they said they would keep building a 911 as long as people bought it, which car endured. So now porche has finaly killed the 911.

    A 991 is an AT car with eps, its big and bloated. Gone is the steering feel, gone are many of the human car ineraction interfaces, that makes it not a 911 its a rear engined 928.

    Then lets look at the arcane marketing on the performance variants. Centrelock wheels which serve no track purpose, are expensive and failure prone, dare I mention eps again and pdk only for the GT3. Porche is a marketing machine trading on past glories, serious cognocenti now look elsewhere.

    Take the poseur corwd out of the equation. Current sportscar junkies go for things that are trackable as that is where you can drive fast legaly consequence free. This crowd, much of which was hard core 911 only, now cross shops vettes vipers, lotus and maybe even Nissan. You know fast cars that hold up on track, that are fun to drive and dont break the bank at every track outing. As nettes and vipers get better built they will be even more attractive here. Lotus is really msiing a niche with poor build.

    So a 991 is acrictature of a 911. Maybe they will do a pukka cayman GT3, and then we can take porche seriously again.

    As to China, they drive lots of cayennes, only saw 1 991, its too small and unimpressive for there.

    Lets face it, these days for not too much more you can have a R8 and for a bit less a really hot vette, either of which are going to be more fun, and the audi has the build too.

    Porche has so many other boulavadier products, why ruin their halo product from which their cred is derived. It just makes no long term sense. Other than the rear engine, what is the 991 usp today?

    I think they lost the plot almost entirely. Bring back the tight scrappy halo car. Build a two door panamera for the cruisers.

  • avatar

    “Fuchs” rhymes with “Lukes?” Ah, those wicked furrin languages. It rhymes with “looks.” And most definitely not with “lux.”

  • avatar
    vaujot

    I think bemoaning that the 991 is too GT-like is a misunderstanding to some degree. Having read quite a bit of Porsche history (Paul Frere, Karl Ludvigsen), the original 901 in its time (Mid 60s) and market environment probably was just as much a GT as the 991 is today. The Mid 60s equivalent to today’s Mazda MX5 is something like a Triumph TR3 or MG-B. Compare that to a 901 and I think you see my point.
    I think some of the development to the 911 being seen as puristic sports car happened in the 70s/80s, when Porsche considered the concept obsolete and focused development on the transaxle cars (924, 944, 928). That is why the 911 only got things like power steering and decent heating and airconditioning much later than other cars. The so-called G-Model was built from 73 to 89, 16 years, without that much fundamental change during this period. Engine size grew from 2.7 liters to 3.2 liters and tire sizes grew a bit, but apart from that, the 1974 911 Carrera is not that much different from a late 80s model. Even Power is pretty similar. And even when they finally updated to the 964 and later 993, financial constraints hindered Porsche from updating e.g. the interior, so that a Mid-90s 993 still has a very similar dash to a Mid 70s G-Modell. Interior parts may not be interchangable but it is close.

  • avatar
    DanyloS

    I realize it would likely be impossible (and I simply may be a luddite) but a how about a “retro” 911?

    Give it a different 9xx name and size it similarly to 964 or earlier models and retain the classic shape. Maybe give it that rumored turbo flat 4 with 250-300hp and call it a day. I know the impossible because a vehicles subsequent generation can only be “improved” through larger size/space more technology, safety features and weight. Still just a fantasy of mine.

    Anyway Doug keep up the great writing! Really liking your style!

  • avatar
    George Herbert

    I have a little family history here; my father has a one-owner 356 Super 90. We’ve had 911s around on and off with friends.

    The modern 911 is not the old 911. The old 911 was only a little bigger than the 356, and other than the back seat functionally resembles a spin-happy Miata with a hardtop and back seat-ish.

    I think the 911 wins in two ways today; One, it’s got the longest chassis legacy and engineering experience to draw upon of any vehicle in history, and Two, it “grew up” into the tiny space between modern “Sports car” and modern “GT” and owns it.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I’d argue the biggest competitor to the 911 is a mistress. Or a boat. Maybe cocaine.

  • avatar
    hachee

    The Cayman really is the old 911, and the 911 is now something else. I sort of bemoaned the luxification of the 911, and if I was really in the market for one of these, the Cayman would be my first choice. But, as small as the backseat is in the 911, it’s ok for kids for a short while, and I think this adds a lot to its appeal. And for those who love the looks, there’s just nothing else.

    I recently had the chance to drive a whole bunch of new Porsches, and as “nice” as they are (and I mean that in a negative way, as if the purity is gone), there’s no denying that they just feel damn special, and I came away thinking “it’s freakin’ worth the price.”

    It would still be my first choice.

    • 0 avatar
      vaujot

      The backseats are really handy sometimes. I actually transported four adults in an aircooled 911 once. We all were on the smallish side and it wasn’t particularly comfortable but still, in a Cayman or Boxster two of us would have had to ride the bus.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Snavely

      Exactly!
      If you drive the new 981 Boxster (or the 987) it feels so much more special, sporting & competent than the Z4 or SLK (or really any sports car). It truly is worth twice the price of the Miata, FR-S, WRX, etc because it’s 10x as good.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Doug, you forgot the Maserati Coupe/GranTourismo.

  • avatar
    sllloyd

    I like the Boxster/Cayman, and would have an easier time rationalizing that purchase, but I flat out don’t fit in one…and not because I’m a fatty.

    I need more shoulder room.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    The R8′s been mentioned four or five times and ignored each time. I think it’s the only direct competitor. Brand, looks, cost, speed, AWD availability, luxury, refinement, handling… what else do you need? Every other car save the Corvette seems to have a serious weight problem. The Nissan looks like a UFO and is devoid of class, as is the Viper, which has turned into a monstrous caricature of itself.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Here they are:
    1. Used Lamborghini Gallardo
    2. Used Ferrari F430
    3. Used 997 Series 911 Turbo PDK
    4. Ford GT aught to be on this list but I suspect it isn’t.

    Not competitors:
    1. Corvette
    2.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    In fact, there are no competitors as yet. The 911 has become an aspirational brand all by itself. People want it because it’s “the real deal” far beyond what it actually is.

    Only Porsche will wreck the 911 legacy by diluting the brand beyond the aspirational envelope. The replacement? Who knows but I betcha it will be a surprise. Possibly not even designed yet.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    R8, Viper, Corvette, GT-R. I personally don’t like the GT-R – you pay 100k you want an engine that doesn’t sound like a sewing machine. But the other cars are right there with the Porsche.

    I’d actually rate all three as more desirable because Porsche 911 around the Bay Area are pretty dime a dozen. Vipers and even the new Corvette woudl be something special. The Audi is great too.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    If you want to go fast buy a Corvette.

  • avatar
    Reino

    Boxster and Cayman definitely compete with the base 911 in dealer showrooms, but on the track, there is no trim level of Cayman/Boxster that comes close to a 911 turbo or GT3.

    Porsche should just stop offering the base 911, which would widen the market for the Cayman, and also solidify the higher level 911s as supercar competitors

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      However, Cayman and Boxster competes pretty well on the track with the 911s that cost the same. If Porsche built a GT3 spec Cayman, it would probably compete pretty well against GT3 911. That’s not the point. Porsche builds a 911 GT3 and not Cayman GT3 in order to confirm to the base 911 Carerra shoppers that their car is far more noble than the baby Porsches, and therefore 911 is worth its price premium. So, I don’t think it’s a smart idea for Porsche to retire the base level 911s in favor of those two for as long as the 911 fanatics exist. The base 911 has always been the core 911 product, and despite of the high price still a relatively affordable cruiser with good street manners and comfort for the well-to-do. 911 is basically the quintessential Porsche. Everyone grew up knowing what a 911 is. It’s fast yet tossable and affordable enough I see them (older cars) parked year round on the street in some pretty average neighborhoods. On the other hand, the GT2 and GT3 911 is a no compromises real sports car that’s best suited for race track. Not everyone wants to drop so much coin on a track day toy.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Man, it’s so tempting to say “Tesla Model S” just to set off a bonfire. Guess I wasn’t cut out to be a troll. I’m just going to agree with the R8 voters, and also salute Porsche for surviving and thriving in the fickle luxury world for so long.

  • avatar
    bbbuzzy

    Aston Martin V8 Vantage is a competitor that’s been mentioned a few times and deserves consideration. Probably more sexy to many, awesome sounding, and full of “look at me” cred. Not as good a track performer, but how many owners of new 911′s, not older ones, are doing track days.

  • avatar
    AFX

    The first Porsche 911 only had one other rear-engined air-cooled competitor during the 1960′s….the Snapper riding mower Forrest Gump drove in the movie.

    Both vehicles attracted the same type of owner, and both owners made their money the same way.

    The best Porsche comment ever was “It has the weight distribution of a short handled sledge hammer”.

    The only other owners who compare with the 911 owners refusal to embrace change would be Corvette owners. Both brands’ owners would have a stroke if their respective companies announced they’d discontinue either model. Porsche fanatics had the demise of air-cooled engines to get in a tizzy about, Corvette owners have headlight and tail light changes. Both are precursors to senile dementia.

    The C3 Corvette summed up the 70′s disco era perfectly.

    The 930 Porsche summed up the 80′s “TURBO” era perfectly.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    You mean the answer isn’t used Panther with like $85,000 in performance mods?

  • avatar
    becauseCAR

    I’m surprised the XK-RS wasn’t considered. It is more of a grand tourer which has been around a bit too long, but it is still a worthy and good car. I would take a 997S or GTS over it any day of the week, but it’s still a fun car, especially as a convertible, and I say this having driven it around the same time as a 991. It’s also about the same price as a similarly-optioned 991S though maybe not as fun.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    M3. Better in every way. And I’m in the minority, but the current V8 version would be my choice. Less money, too. Free maintenance for the first four years, which would run you about infinity with the Porsche.

    I actually have (an embarrassingly old) 40th B-Day card from my wife that states “If BMW ever builds an M3 wagon, I’ll buy you one with a smile, no questions asked.”

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    After my son bought one of the “Exploding IMS Bearing” Boxsters, my interest in buying ANY Porsche was totally extinguished!

    • 0 avatar

      You have my condolences! I steer people away from this bodystyle (986/996) for that reason. They look like great deals, but there’s a reason they’re cheap!

      • 0 avatar
        philipwitak

        still have the 986 boxster i purchased new in 1997 and finally had to replace the original, factory-installed clutch – at 90,000 miles – just a couple of months ago. took full advantage of the opportunity to also install all the ims-bearing ‘insurance’ components currently available.

        found no metal filings in the used oil.

        this car is old, and of little financial value at this point – but i have a feeling my wife and i will still be driving it for many years to come.

  • avatar
    mr.drama

    None of the cars photos above spoke to me-except the Boxster(Cayman works too)Although I wouldn’t resist an M3 or AUDI S4 cabrio.R8?lottery winner car,at least for most of us.when Porsche lost it is easier to pinpoint.Introduction Of the M96 cars which former air-cooled owners flocked to,basedsed on their pevious,but irrelevent (in experience)The engines are faulty,and they knew long before the re-designs of ’05 and ’09.There are other major failings with the 986/97 cars which require more space,but safe to say PNA will have to depend on their doctors and plaintiff lawyers for new sales/leases at this stage pof pricingThe seconday,read used car enthusiast buyer is reticent even with the seemingly reasonable prices of used M96 or even early987/997 box/cay/911 models

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    I never dreamed about having a Porker. That was and is for my friend who would love to have a Turbo. I was (still) always more inclined toward the Corvette.

    But after seeing so many of them, in traffic, I could start appreciating the “why”. And found myself wanting one too. The 997 looks terrific, reminds me a lot one of my favorites which is the 993.

    From what I see in the streets here, I’d say Aston Martin Vantage.

    To me, the street never lies. It shows what sells or doesn’t. I see with some regularity 911s and Vantages.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    VW Beetle – looks the same to me.

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    Doug, I like your writing style and generally look forward to your articles. But how you could ignore the Audi R8 in this discussion boggles my mind. Were you smoking happy cigarettes yesterday?

    And many people believe that if they put 911 engines in the Cayman it would be a much better car.

    • 0 avatar

      I admit: the R8 was an oversight. What I’m more surprised about is just how many people brought it up. I don’t think we ever took it THAT seriously as a competitor at Porsche, but clearly society definitely does.

      With that said: the R8 is very much more expensive than a 911. A base R8 with a stick is $116k with shipping. Navigation is $2,100. Full leather is $5,500. The “gotta get it” Convenience Package (parking sensors, rearview camera, folding mirrors) is $2,100. Now we’re at $126k and we still haven’t gotten to the automatic transmission, which, by the way, is $9,000. Even the nicest C4S in the world is hard to spec to those levels.

      Of course, to most buyers, the $20k delta won’t really matter. Your point is correct: the R8 is a competitor.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I suprised you think backseats are such a big deal. If that’s the case then the Audi RS5 and the M3 are good choices. I think the Audi is better looking – and the M3 is more practical.

  • avatar
    Guildenstern

    The Cayman doesn’t compete with the 911, it eats it for breakfast. The 911 is a slightly confused (just like it’s Boomer customers) Gran Touring car without any charm. It’s an expensive relic that has become as bloated and irrelevant as its main customers.

    The Cayman was the best thing to ever happen to Porsche since they dropped air cooled engines.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    The test for this class of car is whether a pretty female you don’t know will get in the car with you.
    1) 1980 Chevy van – nope
    2) Any Corvette – nope
    3) GT-R – maybe
    4) 911 – yes, but she won’t go back to your place
    5) Audi R8 – yes and you’ll find her undies in the glove box the day after.


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