Porsche was not the first company to offer disc brakes. That honor goes to the lowly Crosley Hotshot back in 1948! Indeed, Porsche began offering disc brakes in 1962, the same year that Studebaker introduced a Bendix system on the Avanti. Porsche had been using rotors and calipers on racing cars for a few years by the time it introduced them for consumer road cars in 1962. Despite being a bit late to the game, Porsche has always taken disc brake development very seriously. Beginning with the somewhat oddball annular-style discs used on the 1962 Carrera 2, all the way through the most modern PCCB systems, Porsche has kept themselves at the forefront of brake development.
Today, Porsche offers several types of brakes across its model range. For ease of identification, these systems are color coded. Each system gets a unique caliper color to help identify which system is in use.
Black: The Standard Brake
In modern Porsche parlance black calipers signify the standard brake package. In a 911, for instance, this means 330mm cast front and rear rotors with cast monobloc calipers front and rear. Incidentally, black was the first color used on Porsche brake calipers, with black cast aluminum calipers first appearing on the 928 and 911 in the late 1970s. For lesser models, this signified upgraded brakes from the often unfinished standard calipers. For example, where a standard 944 used zinc plated single piston calipers, the Turbo, Turbo S and S2 used black-finished cast aluminum calipers.
Today, black calipers are the standard brakes on any Porsche model.
Silver and Red: The “S” Brake
The standard brakes used on Porsche “S” models come finished in either silver or red. Typically the 718, 911, Taycan, and Panamera use red calipers, while the Macan and Cayenne use silver for this stage. This shift in colors also signifies the first brake upgrade. For instance, a base Macan uses a 345mm front brake rotor with a 4-piston monoblock caliper. Moving the S model nets both a larger disc, and a more powerful 6-piston brake caliper.
Curiously, while the colors change from model to model, this does not always signify that the brakes themselves are substantially different. For instance, both the base 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S use the same 4-piston front and rear calipers, clamping the same size 330mm front and 300mm rear brake rotors. Similarly, GTS-branded models of the Macan and Cayenne also use red calipers, despite being the same construction as the silver examples on the S. Consult the model specification sheet for the model you are interested in to see if that particular S model includes larger brakes.
Acid Green: The Hybrid Brakes
Green brakes are used almost* exclusively on Porsche hybrid models, including the 918 Hypercar. In this instance, the color of the brakes does not necessarily indicate the type of disc brake system in use. This typically indicates that the car is equipped with regenerative braking, though not always, as the Taycan electric models all have regenerative braking, but don’t use the Acid Green (which is honestly a shame).
*The only exception to this rule thus far is the 997 Turbo S Edition 918 Hybrid. This model was sold as an add-on for 918 Hybrid buyers, and was finished to match the 918. As such, this model uses acid green brake calipers, but does not feature a hybrid system.
Yellow: Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes
These are the top brakes in the Porsche lineup. First launched on the 996 GT2 road car in 2001, Porsche’s Carbon Ceramic discs are able withstand significantly higher temperatures than their grey iron counterparts. These brakes are formed using ceramic bonded with carbon fiber. The ceramic provides the heat resistance in the rotor, while the bonded carbon filament provides the strength.
These brakes are available in virtually all Porsche models, ranging from the base Boxster, all the way to the top 911s, Panamera and Cayenne. In addition to shedding more heat, carbon ceramic brakes weigh up to 50% less than standard brake rotors. This weight reduction decreases unsprung weight, sharpening cornering and improving ride quality.
Though they are a very expensive option, these brakes offer superior fade resistance, and an increased lifespan compared to their iron counterparts.
Check out this short video on how Carbon Ceramic brakes are made.
White: Porsche Surface Coated Brakes
A relatively new offering joining the options list in 2019, Porsche’s white calipers offer superior braking performance while reducing dusting properties and curbing wear. Add in that it’s not quite as expensive as the carbon ceramics, and these are the brake version of a Jack of all trades. To get all of this in one brake, Porsche starts with a standard galvanized grey-iron brake. With a process that Porsche has been using to coat the insides of its cylinder walls since the 991.2 a few years ago, technicians shoot tungsten carbide particles at supersonic speeds toward the rotor, then a special laser superheats the particles and they fuse to the face of the rotor. With this coating, Porsche says its PSCB rotors are 10 percent harder, last 30 percent longer, and produce 90 percent less brake dust. That’s why the caliper is white, so Porsche can emphasize just how dust-free these brakes are!