Unlike its Italian counterparts Ferrari and Lamborghini, Porsche always had a budget-oriented sports car in its lineup. Lightweight and well-engineered, these vehicles are still an attractive proposition for enthusiasts around the world. The Porsche 944 is an excellent example of that. Like its predecessors, Porsche designed this elegant coupe to appeal to the broader audience. And boy, they succeeded. Porsche sold over 163,000 samples of the 944 from 1982 to 1991, enough to make it their best-selling vehicle.
That’s a lot for a car that doesn’t follow the traditional Porsche recipe. Here, the engine sits in the front, while the gearbox sits in the back. Some Porsche enthusiasts often overlook this vehicle because of that exact reason, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad car. As a matter of fact, brand-agnostic car enthusiasts are often attracted by the 944 precisely because of the innovative design. That configuration gives this car an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution, which certainly aids with handling.
Thanks to that quality, the Porsche 944 value started to go up in recent years. However, the prices are still approachable by the average buyer, so it’s now a perfect time to snatch one. That being said, we strongly recommend being very careful when buying one. The 944 is available with three different powertrain options, and not every one of them is known for their reliability. Let’s comb through all the options and see which one is the right model for you!
Is the Porsche 944 a Good Car?
The answer to that question really depends on what you expect from a sports car. If handling is one of your priorities, then the 944 and 944S are excellent options. Even by today’s standards, this handsome coupe handles with poise and precision that many vehicles of that era lack. Porsche’s legendary hydraulic steering and slick-shifting 5-speed manual transmission certainly add to the overall enjoyment.
Furthermore, the car is very light, especially by today’s standards, which certainly adds to the appeal. Find a twisty road, and the Porsche 944 and 944S won’t disappoint you. As far as body types go, the coupe drives better in corners. The 944 Cabrio isn’t a slouch either, but it’s not as direct and precise as its counterpart.
How Much Horsepower Does a Porsche 944 Have?
The naturally-aspirated versions of the Porsche 944 aren’t known for speed. They aren’t slow either, but today, even a four-cylinder mid-size sedan will easily outpace the 944 and 944S. Let’s have a look at the different 944 models specifications, and you’ll better understand what I’m talking about.
- The Porsche 944 is the base model that comes with a 2.5-liter engine developing 160 horsepower and 154 lb.ft of torque. That is enough for a 0-60 mph sprint of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 135 mph.
- The Porsche 944S has a more powerful, larger naturally aspirated 2.7-liter engine. This motor develops 190 horsepower and 170 lb.ft of torque. Reaching 60 mph from a stop takes 7.4 seconds, while the top speed is 142 mph.
- The Porsche 944 S2 is the most potent naturally-aspirated version. The 944 S2 comes with a 3.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops a healthy 211 horsepower and 206 lb.ft of torque. The 0-60 mph sprint takes only 6.6 seconds, while the top speed is 149 mph.
There isn’t a big difference in numbers between the 2.5-liter and 2.7-liter models. However, thanks to the added torque, the larger engine feels livelier in the mid-range. Still, if you don’t care much about numbers and only want to have fun, both models will do just fine.
The larger 3.0-liter version, though, is in a different league. It has much more low-down pull and much stronger acceleration than the less-powerful versions. This engine suits the car very a lot better. It is responsive and plays well with the delicate handling of the vehicle.
Every naturally-aspirated engine available in the 944 is reliable. They’re also cheap to buy right now, unlike the 944 Turbo and Turbo S, which skyrocketed in value in recent years. Let’s see what it offers in the performance department:
- The Porsche 944 Turbo comes with a 2.5L engine, enough to output 220 horsepower and 243 lb.ft of torque. The 0-60 mph sprint takes only 5.7 seconds, while the top speed is 155 mph.
- The Porsche 944 Turbo S is the range-topping model in the lineup. It has the same 2.5-liter engine as the regular Turbo model, only fine-tuned to produce 250 horsepower and 258 lb.ft. The 944 Turbo S sprints from 0-60 mph in a brisk 5.5 seconds and doesn’t stop until it reaches 164 mph. The Turbo S model being the fastest 944, can reach the end of a quarter-mile drag race in a respectable 14 seconds.
The numbers of the 944 Turbo aren’t much more impressive than the 944 S2. However, the 944 Turbo has much higher tuning potential. Owners easily crack over 270 horsepower only with simple chip tuning. On the other hand, the turbocharged engine isn’t as responsive – there’s somewhat of a turbo lag.
Driving purists may be turned down by that, especially considering the playful nature of the car. Furthermore, the 944 Turbo engine isn’t very reliable, especially when you compare it to the NA versions. Maintenance is also trickier and more expensive than on the lesser models.
The 944 Turbo S is in a different league from all other models. Apart from the peppy engine, this version has adjustable Koni shocks, larger Brembo brakes, and Club Sport wheels. According to the 944 reviews, these additions make the Turbo S much more planted during hard cornering. That said, reliability can be an issue here as well.
Should You Buy a Porsche 944?
Answering this question was much more straightforward ten years ago. At that time, mint versions of the 944 were inexpensive. For less than $10,000, the 944 was an enticing proposition for enthusiasts. However, today the 944 for sale prices started rising. The smaller four-cylinder versions are still approachable, but the Turbo’s and the S2 have become very expensive. That said, prices will probably continue to go up in the future, so be sure that you snatch one up sooner than later.
The biggest issue with the 944 is maintenance. While the engines are generally reliable, parts are scarce and expensive. This is a Porsche, after all. To buy the 944, you should really love this car. It may be cheap by Porsche standards, but it is expensive when compared to some other Japanese sports cars.
With all that said, the 944 has an aura of exclusivity that those cars might lack. The vehicle may have been produced in the 80s’, but there is still a 944 racing series that takes place across North America. You can even enter and race in one of the classes with your 944 that costs less than $10,000. That’s not something a lot of new automobiles offer, let alone older ones.
Porsche Repair Manual and Workshop Manual
Already an owner of the Porsche 944? We have the full list of repair manuals and workshop manuals for every version of the car on our website. Be sure to check them here.