In just the past 5 years or so, we’ve seen several cars go from slow to fast, boring to exciting, and bad to good. For example - the Mustang went from “pony car” to “holy crap this is an amazing sports car” with the GT350, the Corvette finally went full Italy on us with the new mid-engined C8, and the Honda Civic Type R went from a cool little sports car to one of the best driving machines on the planet. We would include the Alfa Romeo Giulia but it took them 30 years to come out with a new one so that doesn’t count. But let’s talk Porsche.
Porsche finds itself kind of in the middle, in two ways. Firstly, the 911 hasn’t had any dramatic change in “goodness” like the other ones we mentioned, and secondly, the 911 itself is in between the sports car segment and supercar segment. We’ll explain both of those eventually but is it stupid to be skeptical about the 911s social hierarchy? The answer is tough to say definitively, though we think it’s valuable to ponder.
Why The 911 Can Be Considered A Sports Car
Defining a sports car isn’t really that easy when it comes to putting words on paper. You could say a sports car is, fun to drive, handles well, and is quicker than the average automobile. But the problem with that lies in a couple of ways. An old ‘90s honda civic hatch-back can be fun to drive, handle well, and be faster than average, but at heart that civic is just an economy car. On the other hand, the Mazda Miata is one of the greatest sports cars ever but it’s not faster than the average car.
The reason we say this is because the 911 checks all those sports car criteria boxes, making it a sports car by default no matter if you think its a supercar as well. The 911 has been a true sports car for decades and it would be hard to find someone who said otherwise. The argument that puts the 911 in the sports car column is very well-backed. The core of the 911 community will always refer to it as a sports car and those two words themselves are almost synonymous with the 911.
In 2021 though, the 911 lineup is very different than it was 30 or 40 years ago. You have on one side the Carreras and GTSs that you can get with a manual and minimal options. Those would be the true sports cars as they provide a more “do it yourself” type of experience. But on the other side, you have all of Porsche’s special GT cars. Those are a different story.
Why The 911 Can Be Considered A Supercar
In 1975, the newly introduced Ferrari 308 GTB could do 0-60 in 6.2 seconds. In the same year, the newly launched Porsche 930 Turbo could it 5.2 seconds. When you think of the word “supercar” you probably think Ferrari. Maybe it should be Porsche. The point here is that even when supercars were first spawning from Italy, the little Porsche was quicker in a straight line and could probably out-handle the Ferrari on a back road. And just like in 1975, the current highest performance 911s are right up to par with all the textbook supercars like the Lamborghini Huracan and Aventador and the Ferrari 488 Pista and F8.
If you think the 911 is a supercar, then lap records are your best friend in a debate. Take a look at the Nurburgring, Laguna Seca, and other track’s lap record lists for production cars. There’s a good chance that you’ll see “Porsche” along with either “GT3” or “GT2” up and down the page. Oh, and you’ll probably see “Randy Pobst” in there too, he’s MotorTrend’s test driver and a god amongst men.
Back to the 911. Calling an automobile that that supercar levels of performance a “sports car” seems a little bit juxtaposed. You probably wouldn’t call a McLaren a sports car because it’s usually bright orange, mid-engined, and violently quick, but a McLaren 570S won MotorTrend’s Best Driver’s Car award a couple of years back. Remember what we said about a sports car being really fun to drive? The McLaren checks that box but is still a supercar in most people’s eyes. So why not the big 911s? The Turbo, Turbo S, GT3, GT3 RS, and GT2 RS are some of the most effective track weapons on the market but they still are considered sports cars by many. We’ll let you hash out the argument. Which is it?
Max Larsen is the Porsche reporter at Torque News. Since he was 15 years old Max was building old cars and selling them for profit, spawning his love for cars. He has been around Porsches his entire life. His grandfather had several 911s and he’s owned two Porsche 944s, which made the auto-shop class cars a lot simpler. Reading old car magazines and seeing press cars at shows gave him the passion to write and pursue the industry. He is currently studying Journalism at Western Washington University and writing for the racing team there locally. Follow Max on Torque News Porsche and on Twitter at @maxlarsencars. Search Torque News Porsche for daily Porsche news coverage by our expert automotive reporters.