1 Sep 2008
PORSCHE followed up its third-generation 911 in September 2008 with a Series II facelift, featuring new direct-injection engine technology, significant suspension modifications and the introduction of a dual-clutch manual gearbox dubbed PDK.
Visually the 997’s transition to Series II is subtle, with redesigned front and rear bumpers, revised headlights incorporating bi-Xenon headlights with washers and daytime LED running lights, and reshaped tail-lights being the most obvious.
Look more carefully and you may notice the newly designed wheel, exhaust outlets, door mirrors (which are now larger and double armed) and front air intakes, with the latter’s shape now more in harmony with the lighting/indicator panel above. The all-wheel drive Carrera 4 (C4) models should be easier to spot now, thanks to the return of the 996 C4’s full-length rear reflector sited between the tail-lights, as well as silver-coloured front air-dam strakes. A big ‘Carrera4’ badge gives the game away too.
But it is under the skin where changes run deepest, resulting in one of the most changed 911s in the model’s 45-year run.
Leading the charge is a pair of new direct fuel injection engines espousing improved efficiencies for Porsche’s trademark water-cooled horizontally opposed six-cylinder boxer units.
Again available in 3.6 and 3.8-litre guises, both feature an aluminium engine block (contributing to a 5kg lighter engine than before), four overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing (called VarioCam Plus in Porsche-speak), and dry-sump lubrication all help achieve a Euro-5 emissions rating.
The upshot of all these is a pair of powerplants that deliver the naturally aspirated specific engine output benchmark of 100hp and 110Nm per litre for the first time in a 911.
The all-new 3614cc flat six serves up 254kW at 6500rpm (up 15kW on the old 3596cc engine), while the Carrera S’ 3800cc secures 283kW at 6000rpm instead of the 261kW rating of the old 3824cc unit.
Peak torque, meanwhile, rises by 20Nm in either case – to 390Nm at 4400rpm and 420Nm at 4400rpm for the 3.6 and 3.8-litre respectively.
PDK stands for Doppelkupplungsgetriebe – a seven-speed double-clutch transmission with roots dating back a quarter of a century.
Today’s version is co-devised with specialists ZF, and – like the (completely unrelated) DSG item pioneered in a production vehicle by Audi in the 2003 TT V6 – differs from a conventional transmission by being a fully manual gearbox that comprises two clutches that activate two separate sets of pre-selected gear ratios.
Yes, the regular six-speed manual gearbox 911 (an Aisin-built unit now boasting a higher third-gear ratio in the interests of better official fuel consumption results) has a marginally faster top speed, but 911s packing PDK offer quicker acceleration, better fuel economy and lower emissions.
Porsche has also modified the suspension and brakes for the 911 Series II, with revised springs, dampers and anti-roll bars across the range.
Whether it’s a manual or PDK 911, buyers can also now choose a mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD), as well as Porsche’s Active Suspension Management (PASM) on the base 3.6.
Meanwhile, C4 911s adopts the current 911 Turbo’s newer electronically controlled AWD system, which in turn was inherited from the Porsche’s Cayenne SUV.
Fitted as standard with a mechanical rear axle differential, this new electronic Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system replaces the viscous multi-plate clutch AWD system, and continuously shifts torque from up to 100 per cent rearwards to 100 per cent front-wards in extreme conditions, compared to the old C4’s fixed 60:40 split.
As before, the C4 is 44mm wider in the rear compared to the Carrera 2.
All 911s gain a new hill-hold device called Start-off Assistant, to keep the cars from rolling backwards at launch speeds, as well as larger and improved brakes.
Moving to the Cabriolet models, Porsche now uses a harder wearing material for the soft top.
Other range-wide upgrades include a third-generation PCM3 version of the Porsche Communications Management (PCM) system, comprising a bigger new 6.5-inch touch-screen. It can be optioned with satellite-navigation including a 40GB hard drive, plus voice control and a TV tuner.
Other variants of the 997, such as the Turbo and GT3 series, receive the changes in 2009 and 2010.
IN late 2008 Porsche released the Targa versions of the facelifted 997.
Like its Coupe and Cabriolet siblings, the Targa scored the new-generation horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine family with direct injection, the option of Porsche’s “Doppelkupplungsgetriebe” (PDK) seven-speed double-clutch transmission in lieu of the old five-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, revised suspension tuning, an interior upgrade that includes a new centre console layout, and subtly different nose and tail treatments.
Plus, being an all-wheel drive-only proposition once again, the latest Targa joins its fellow facelifted 4WD 911s in adopting a new electronically controlled four-wheel drive set-up, sitting beneath the wider-track coupe body that has become a hallmark of the all-paw Porsche sports cars.
But this car’s existence centres on its unique body style.
Like the outgoing Targa, the new one’s side DLO daylight opening is more tapered than in the regular 911 Coupe, and is now distinguished by a metallic garnish.
The inevitable upshot of course is increased weight, in the region of 60kg. The lightest is 1530kg (Targa 4 manual), some 40kg below the mass of a Targa 4S PDK.
The Targa’s glazed roof sits within a module made by Magna Car Top Systems, spanning from the top of the windscreen to the top of the engine-bay lid.
Covering an area of 1.54 square metres, it consists of two segments, with the front half electronically sliding first down and then beneath the rear window section sandwich-style to reveal a 45cm square aperture. This takes just seven seconds to complete.
Other Targa features include a hatch that opens at an angle of 60 degrees, allowing easy access to the 230-litre storage area behind the front seats – an additional 25 litres over the Coupe. There’s more rear headroom too.
The glass roof is UV radiation-resistant, includes an improved insulating roll cover blind that whirrs to the rear of the sliding glass portion regardless of its open position, and introduces an automatically controlled multi-plate wind deflector to help keep draughts from entering the cabin.