Porsche’s big-screen appearances and associations with grade A stars of the screen Icons such as James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Paul Newman helped make the Porsche brand instantly desirable and seriously cool. But is it justified?
Porsche vehicles are excellent quality cars they are among the top tier of luxury automotive brands. Recent Porsche models score highly in reliability, in 2017 JD Power named them the most dependable brand.
And so that brings us to the question – How do you define a good car? Ask a group of drivers and they may not agree on all the criteria, but there will be some overlap. In this post, we’ll focus on the overlap.
James Dean owned, raced, and sadly lost his life in a 50’s Porsche 550 Spyder (affectionately known as the “Little Bastard”), didn’t hurt their value any, Jerry Seinfield sold his 550 back in 2016 for over $5.3 million.
Porsches are renowned for performance, precise handling, and of course luxury. They are performance cars first and foremost, and you can definitely tell when you drive one. A lot of what makes Porsche so special is its design. Porsche likes to approach car design a little differently. Their design philosophy creates something that’s quite unique.
Possibly Porsche’s most famous vehicle the Iconic 911 helped make Porsche a household name. The 911 is, without doubt, a very special car. Its unique design places the engine in the rear of the vehicle behind the rear axle.
Fitting the engine at the rear isn’t in itself unique but for a sports car where handling is a key attribute, it’s a very risky decision.
Having the weight in the rear does help the wheels gain traction, and the air-cooled engine makes it lighter and allows the engineers to design a car that’s seriously aerodynamic.
However, there are problems associated with this design. Having the engine hang out the back creates a pendulum effect. The 1980’s 911 Turbo was a handful and the infamous model could swap ends in an instant. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. The combination of the pendulum effect and massive turbo lag gave the 80’s 911 turbo its name – The Widowmaker.
The Porsche marketing department being a sharp bunch, realized killing customers wasn’t great for repeat sales and so engineers set to work solving the problem. Modern 911s are excellent handling cars and no longer suffer from the pendulum effect, while not as exciting to drive as the Widowmaker, driving a modern 911 is still a thrilling experience.
The Porsche Model Line-up
Porsche are not a one-hit-wonder, they sell a ton of other models too, and here’s a quick rundown including some stats on performance. Porsche offers a ton of choice within each model, so for the sake of simplicity I’ve picked the entry model of each.
So the brand has upped the reliability but what are Porsche actually like to drive?
With a range of models available, let’s look at the top ones individually.
The 911 is the ultimate luxury sports car. It’s designed for the driver experience. 503hp with a 7-speed PDK auto transmission or 6-speed stick makes it fun to drive – every time. The mpg is not very efficient at 22mpg but if you’re driving a car costing in excess of $100k I’m not sure the cost of gas is an issue. There are no rear seats but let’s be honest the 911 is not a family car.
The Macan is a really smooth ride. It has no problem feeling like a sports car. The latest model offers adjustable drive modes, heated front, and rear seats, and has an impressive 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. The steering is a little light compared to other luxury brands but certainly nippy around the city and has a combined mpg of 21. They do require Premium gasoline so a bit more pricey at the pumps. The interior is somewhat bland, disappointing for the comparative cost at $71k.
The Boxster is on the go for 20 years and still looks amazing. With the soft top option, it’s certainly a car to take to the open road. A 300 – 394hp turbo engine (depending on the model) takes you from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds. 23 mpg combined, is again low, but as with the 911, the initial cost is so high the gas price becomes insignificant. The Boxster drives with superb handling and the location of the engine, mid vehicle, allows for stability through quick corners.
The Cayman 718
The Cayman 718 is built to be driven like a true sports car. The standard transmission is the 6-speed manual to get a full driver experience. The volume from the 6 cylinder engine leaves you in no doubt of the 394hp available. The entry-level model offers 24mpg combined compared to the more powerful and higher-spec S at 22mpg combined.
The 2022 model only offers the Apple CarPlay and not the Android Auto and some of the interiors can seem a little below expectations for the cost. But the Cayman is all about the drive and the power and not the extras.
The Cayenne along with the Macan is Porsche’s bestseller. It also drives like a sports car, even though it’s an SUV. It’s the biggest Porsche model available. 460hp in a twin-turbo V8 engine. Driver experience is enhanced by the 12.3” infotainment screen. Although the largest model, it handles really well, either in city driving or weekend excursions. It has plenty of space front and rear and for those busy shopping days, the power-operated tailgate is a godsend, closing the trunk with a foot gesture.
The Panamera has all the power and luxury expected from a Porsche but unlike the 911 or the Cayman, the Panamera has four doors and a sizable trunk. The popular 4S Model has a 440hp V6 engine and AWD. Of all the models mentioned the Panamera is the one that lives up to its luxury price tag, which for the 4S is in excess of $100k. But even with the extra room in the rear, and 4 doors it doesn’t shy away from the sporty feel. With adjustable bucket sport seats and low ground clearance it still offers the Porsche experience you expect.
The Electric Taycan is certainly up there with the Tesla S. The Taycan horsepower is phenomenal, starting at 527 and reaching 750 in the Turbo S with a 0-60 in 2.4 seconds. That is one quick car. However, this is not sustainable for any length of time. The range is nowhere near to the Tesla. Range anxiety is a huge problem, with only 190 – 200 miles on a full charge.
The Taycan has an 800v battery and although one of the selling points is that it charges to 80% in just 22 minutes, the 800V DC chargers are few and far between, so the reality is that it takes up to 4 hours to charge. Internally it’s quite spacious but has only two full-size seats in the rear, not three as in many cars. Similarly, Apple CarPlay is offered but not Android Auto, this may change in the future. But for now, it seems only Apple Users drive Porsche!
Porsche Reliability By Model
Porsche of old has taken a beating in the reliability stakes. They still had the ratings for performance and quality but unfortunately not reliability. However, since 2017 Porsche has upped their game. In 2017 JD Power named them the most dependable car and overall the brand received 5/5. Compared to 2014, where the Panamera received a 2/5 and the Cayenne 3/5. General consensus is a hard thing to change in a car brand. Porsche has done a really good job to shift this opinion back into the black.
This could be down to the SUV phenomenon. SUVs currently outsell sedans/ traditional cars by 2:1. Porsche Macan is the brand’s best-selling model in 2019 and 2020. They sold 41,298 units. Not bad in the throes of a pandemic and car component worldwide shortage.
The Cayenne, Porsche’s larger SUV model, is not far behind with 37,093 units sold.
But not everyone wants to drive an SUV. Out of all the Porsche models available the Porsche 911 has the highest JD Power study in 2021, and rated the model to give the least amount of problems. This is measured on a 3-year-old vehicle using the PP100 (or problems per 100 vehicles). The 911 scored 57, with the average in luxury brands 118, making it the car with the lowest complaints across the board.
In fact, Porsche was ranked as the most dependable car brand by JD Power in 2021.
|Cayenne||81/100 (Great)||85/100 (Great)||82/100 (Great)||85/100 (Great)|
|Macan||82/100 (Great)||87/100 (Great)||85/100 (Great)||N/A|
|Boxster||N/A||8/10||85/100 (Consumer Rating)||87/100 (Consumer Rating)|
|911||80/100||93/100 (Best)||91/100 (Best)||9/10|
Porsche Maintenance Costs By Model
Check out the maintenance of the Porsche model lineup.
Porsche Resale Value By Model
Check out the resale values and depreciation of the Porsche model lineup.
|Model||Cost Price (2021)||Depreciation 2018||Depreciation 2016||Depreciation 2014||Depreciation 2011|
Insurance on a Porsche
Porsche insurance is going to be high. No matter which model you choose, they are all seen as luxury sports cars. Parts are not as readily available as run-of-the-mill cars so understandably the cost to repair them is higher. All insurance is based on age, location, and driver history.
A 30-year-old with good driver history is looking at $2774 per year and even 10 years later there’s not much of a drop at $2499, but this can rise to $3500 for the 911. As I’ve said if you’re buying a car that costs in excess of $100k you’re not going to sweat the cost of your insurance.
Known Porsche Problems By Model
Transmission problems can be quite common with Porsche. All new Porsche has a PDK transmission and needs expert hands to do any repairs. Older models have Tiptronic transmission, which can give trouble with bushing wear in the shift lever. Gear changing becomes difficult and noisy. Low transmission fluid can cause your Porsche to go into limp mode and difficult gear changes. It’s something that needs to be checked regularly by your auto tech.
|Model||Coolant Flush||Engine Mount Replacement||Front Ball Joint Replacement||Transmission Fluid Service|
Uneven tire wear is a sign of suspension problems or incorrect alignment. Porsche are heavy cars and many models have the majority of weight in the rear. Tires wear on the inside rear and more often can’t be seen. The rear tires often only last 15000 miles which is well below the average of 30000. The specified alignment recommended by Porsche makes this wear happen. The bad news for Porsche drivers is the outside of the tire (which we can see) is usually well within safety limits. And the driver is often totally unaware of this wear.
Many coolant issues go unnoticed as the seals that fail are located in an area that won’t drip through to your garage floor. A musty smell will be noticeable in the cabin. It’s important to get this regularly checked by a qualified auto tech especially if your Porsche is running hot.
A Porsche is not necessarily a daily car, apart from the SUV models. Due to this a 911 or Panamera could be sitting idle in your garage for weeks at a time. This car’s battery will slowly start to discharge and in less than a month could be completely flat. This is less than ideal, as jumping your Porsche is not recommended as it can cause module damage.
The solution is to bring your fabulous Porsche out into the world more often or buy a trickle charger. Full battery discharge can lead to further problems that may mean the computers need to be reset. This is an expensive trip to your Porsche garage and one that can be easily avoided.
Before buying a used Porsche, or any used vehicle, it’s always worth investing just a few dollars to check the VIN number against a vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, and Vin cloning, and a ton of other buying pitfalls.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.