996 (1998 - 2004)

early - 911 T - 911 L - 911 E - 911 2.7l - Carrera - SC - Carrera 3.2 - 964 -993- 996- 997 - 914 - 924 - 928 - 944 - 968

In 1998 the new Porsche 911, also known as the 996 was introduced. This car had the very important mission of rescuing Porsche as a independent car-manufacturer. This new 911 is the first in 34 years that is so new compared with the previous models. First all of the bodywork is complete new. As is the interior and the suspension. The headlights, like a lot of other components are shared with the boxster, but Porsche implies they were designed for the 911, and then used for the boxster.The typical curved flanks have made way for a smooth new look. Door handles are now flush fitted. Even the so much loved air-cooled engine, was after 34 years replaced by a water-cooled one (picture below) for environmental reasons. The overall length of the car has increased by 185mm and width has increased by 30mm

996 models include; Porsche 996 Carrera 2, Carrera 4, available with both 6 speed manual and tiprtonic gearbox's. Body styles started with the Coupe (see picture of a '98 series 996 C2 manual I owned) and Cabriolet, but recently a 'glass roof' Targa has been introduced, similar to the previous 993 Targa.
Also included in the model line up is the 4 wheel drive 996Turbo Coupe - again manual or tiptronic, plus the limited edition stripped out 996 GT2 and the 996 GT3 race car.

The 996 was a totally new car, with a new shape, a new interior and a new water cooled engine. All previous 911 had been air cooled, a system that has advantages in simplicity and weight, but critically was no longer viable to engineer to current legislation. Along with the air-cooling went part of the glorious flat six sound. And that's what upset some critics.

The motor, as it's always been, is in the rear, the chassis a development of things learned from the 993 and from Porsche racing activities. Therefore this new model handles even better, has superb brakes, and great performance. The motor was downsized from 3600cc to 3400 cc, although horse power went up (on normally aspirated versions) from 285 to 300hp.

No doubt as time passes the so called 'purists' that consider all 911 should be air cooled will warm to the 996 and appreciate the developments that the Porsche engineers have provided.

996 C4 Cabriolet

The body shape still resembles any earlier 911, but everything has changed. You can feel that the individual panels are less heavy than before, but this is progress and the engineers at Porsche always move forward. Open the drivers door and you will see beautiful cabin architecture. Gone completely is the practical but idiosyncratic design that had evolved little from the '60's. Instead a more roomy cabin, still two plus two, very good seats and a more relaxed driving environment.

Typically Porsche, these cars are efficient and strong, characteristics that have always been evident in all 911 - making the description 'an everyday supercar' just as relevant today as its always been.

my 996 C4 Cabriolet
My 996 C4 Cabriolet

Top Speed
911 Turbo
twin-turbo flat six
911 Carrera 2
flat six
911 Carrera 4
flat six
911 GT3
flat six

The 996 is Porsche’s 21st century interpretation of their ongoing 911 theme, a concept that has served them well since the early sixties. Indeed, some fairly dramatic changes were made, not least the switch from traditional air to water-cooling for the engine (in order to aid cylinder head cooling and reduce noise), whilst this new model was also larger and more comfortable than its illustrious predecessors. However, these changes were realised without diluting too much of the original 911 ethos, especially as Porsche were going to be offering a host of alternative versions to satisfy almost every customers requirements.

Video Clip - Yamaha R1 vs 996 Carrera 4

In addition to the stock 996 Carrera and Carrera 4 available in Coupe, Cabriolet and Targa configurations, Porsche also build the GT3 hot rod as well as a variety of turbocharged machines. There's the twin turbocharged four-wheel drive Coupe - soon to be available in Cabriolet form, the rear-wheel drive only GT2 and, of course, some of the fastest, most reliable normally aspirated GT racers in the world. Porsche set out to achieve a number of key objectives with this new model, but above all it had to be faster, more driveable, more exploitable and more comfortable than any previous 911. Introduced first in rear wheel drive Carrera form during September 1997, the thoroughly redesigned chassis had its wheelbase stretched to 2350mm which, when combined with wider front and rear track, enabled the designers to provide vastly more cabin space. Featuring MacPherson struts with coil springs and anti-roll bars front and rear, there were also bigger ventilated discs all round. New eighteen-inch alloy wheels were fitted as standard, a number of alternative designs being available via the options list. But although the 996 retained a traditional flat-six boxer engine with its rear-mounted longitudinally positioned layout, Porsche's re-worked 3.4-litre motor employed water instead of air-cooling for its new light alloy cylinder head, this so as to provide a reduction in noise. Dual overhead camshafts, four valve cylinder heads and variable valve timing all featured and, with a bore and stroke of 96mm x 78mm respectively, displacement was 3387cc. Sequential Bosch multi-point fuel injection and a compression ratio of 11.3:1 helped output up by 15bhp on the outgoing 993, 300bhp being available at 6800rpm.

996 GT3

The 996 came with a choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or Porsche's semi-automatic Tiptronic transmission (available as a cost option and discussed in greater detail later), the performance figures for both versions unsurprisingly being faster than those of the 993. Indeed, top speed was 171mph whilst zero to sixty took a blistering 5.2 seconds (or six seconds dead for Tiptronic versions). But most noticeable of all the 996’s many bold new features were its completely redesigned bodywork and totally revised interior.

At the front, a cleaner and more rounded grille ran almost the width of the nose whilst light clusters similar in appearance to those of the Boxster gave Porsche's two models a strong family resemblance head on. Gently rounded front wings led up to a teardrop cabin that was immediately identifiable as pure Porsche 911, always shapely rear wings again incorporating Boxster-esque tail light clusters either side of the engine lid. An electronically adjustable rear wing automatically rose at speeds in excess of 50mph (lowering again when the car dips below 5mph), this aerofoil appearing remarkably unobtrusive when flush which adds to the 996's extremely clean profile. But despite these far-reaching tweaks to the original design, somehow Porsche retained enough distinctive traits to enable all but the most uneducated of bystanders to acknowledge that this is a Porsche 911. A credit to both the modern designers and immortality of the original 911 concept then, the 996 is undoubtedly one of the most universally appealing designs around today. Just as significantly though, for almost the first time in its long and distinguished history, the 911 cabin got a thorough redesign with the arrival of this car. A more contemporary, more shapely dash housed a new instrument binnacle and centre console which led down to a markedly more substantial transmission tunnel, all a good deal more pleasing than the outgoing 993. Meanwhile, redesigned seats, door trim and a new three-spoke steering wheel all helped make the 996 cabin a much more habitable environment than any of its predecessors. Leather trim was standard along with air conditioning, regardless of a vehicles final market destination.

In addition to a wealth of custom colour choices and an array of wheels then, the most desirable options came in the form of Cup and Carrera Aero kits, an FIA roll cage, a sports chassis kit, free-flow exhaust and bucket seats. Additional exclusivity could be found with wood or carbon-fibre interior insert packs whilst, through their Tequipment line of bespoke enhancements, Porsche also offered a host of special order options that enabled clients to add as much individuality or performance as they required. Launched in Carrera form during September 1997, the 996 was greeted with almost universal acclaim although some critics inevitably decried the loss of its air-cooled engine whilst others found the new machine a little too polished for their liking.

996 3.4l Engine

However, all were quick to agree this was one of the most significant strides taken in the ongoing development saga of the 911 and, with even higher performance derivatives planned for the future, Porsche would go onto build a 996 for all tastes. March 1998 saw a Cabriolet introduced (with right-hand drive examples available that August), these new roadsters debuting what was perhaps the most pleasing Cabriolet bodywork of any Porsche 911. When lowered, the power hood all but disappeared below a hard body-colour coded cover that, with a pleasing lack of canvas, helped it mimick the look of Porsche's 356 B Roadster. The Carrera Coupe and Cabriolet were joined in July 1998 by a four-wheel drive version (right-hand drive cars coming late 1998), this new model incorporating highly sophisticated anti-skid control by linking the ABS, ASR (traction control) and ABD (automatic brake differential) to create Porsche Stability Management (PSM). Governed electronically, PSM was programmed to recognise when the limits of the Carrera 4 had been exceeded by taking inputs from individual wheel speeds, acceleration and deceleration to act as a safety net although one that in no way intrudes on the essential 911 experience. Meanwhile, derived from the viscous clutch four-wheel drive system employed on the 993, torque is split from front to rear, varying by between 5% and 40% depending upon conditions, driving characteristics and, in particular, any loss of traction through the front wheels. Weighing in 55kg heavier than the Carrera, the Carrera 4 posted identical performance figures to its two-wheel drive sibling, sixty coming up in 5.0 seconds while top speed remained 179mph.

However, despite the resoundingly warm welcome given to the 996 in both its Carrera and Carrera 4 versions, Porsche's more or less annual upgrade programme meant it was not long before the first new features were added. Indeed, the 1999 model year 996's received much more attractive clear indictor lenses fitted as standard although bona fide Litronic gas-discharge headlights were still a cost option.

996 Turbo