1 Oct 2004
Quicker, faster, safer, more civilised and easier to drive than the more raucous 993, the 1997-2004 996-series quickly became the most popular 911 ever.
But still Porsche purists bleated it had lost the look, feel and soul that helped establish 911’s automotive legend status.
So Porsche attempted to cover both bases with the redesigned 997 series, which – although a far more evolutionary design than the ground-breaking 996 - succeeded in presenting a more classic shape while improving the 911 breed in almost every tangible way.
Two Carrera variants were available from the 997’s October ‘04’s launch.
But the marginally more powerful base model and its significantly higher-performing Carrera S sibling also bring a host of suspension, braking, safety, seating, body strengthening and aesthetic advances.
The most noticeable change for a 911 that Porsche claims is 80 per cent new is the revised bodyshell, which carries over the 996 roof but still appears more closely related to 993 than 996.
Further differentiated from Boxster, the new shape is more slippery and employs extra underbody panelling to improve its aerodynamics.
Deeper front and rear bumpers, flat door sides, more pronounced wheel arches and 38mm wider rear haunches give 997 (now with a total width of 1808mm) a more traditional 911.
The 997 interior looks to 911’s past too, continuing with a revised iteration of 996’s overlapping instrument panel but eschewing many of the associated circular design themes that made the previous 911 interior so uniquely beautiful.
997 911 drivers gain 12mm more stretching space thanks to seats that are lower and pedals that are further away. Boot volume increases by five litres to 135 litres.
Both 911 variants are based on a chassis that features a 21mm wider front track (1486mm), 54mm wider rear track (1534mm) and, for the first time, a variable-ratio steering rack that increases turning force as lock is wound on.
Further increasing 911 active safety armoury is the fitment of Porsche Stability Management, which was previously standard only in 911 Turbo and C4S.
The common bodyshell itself offers 40 per cent more flexural and eight per cent more torsional rigidity than the greatly stiffened 996, courtesy of extra boron steel strengthening beams in the 997 firewall, roof, doors and floor.
Along with extra equipment, this adds 25kg in total weight to 911 Carrera (now 1395kg), while Carrera S is 50kg heavier than 996 Carrera at 1420kg and weight distribution remains 38/62 per cent front/rear.
The basic Carrera continues with the 996 911’s 3.596-litre six-cylinder boxer engine with the same 370Nm of torque at 4250rpm but 4kW more peak power with 239kW now available at the same 6800rpm.
This means 911 Carrera’s 0-100km/h acceleration remains a claimed five seconds dead (5.5 for the auto) and top speed remains 285km/h (280km/h auto).
For Carrera S there’s a new bored and stroked, 3.824-litre version of the flat six featuring a higher 11.8:1 (instead of 11.3:1) compression ratio to produce 261kW at 6600rpm and 400Nm at a higher 4600rpm.
The extra Carrera S oomph drives it to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds (5.3 auto) and to a claimed top speed of 293km/h (285km/h auto).
To cope with the extra engine output, the 911 uses an Aisin six-speed manual or a five-speed Tiptronic semi-auto option.
997 Cabriolet in standard and S versions arrived from April ’05.
PORSCHE'S GT2 has always been regarded as the most fearsome road-going version of its 911 coupe, but the latest (997-series) iteration, which was launched in Australia in April 2008 - just months before the facelifted 997 911 emerged globally – lifts the bar considerably.
Up to 40 examples of the new GT2, which is priced more than $25,000 higher than its 996-series predecessor at $425,700, have been earmarked for Australia from a total global production run of about 700 cars ending in December 2008.
The GT2 is dressed in an even wilder bodykit than Porsche's 911 Turbo($334,400) and is powered by an even higher-performing (390kW/640Nm) version of its twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre flat six. But it eschews the 911T's all-wheel drive layout, making the GT2 lighter, quicker, faster and even more rewarding to drive.
Better described as a turbocharged GT3 than a rear-drive 911 Turbo, the GT2 is the purest incarnation of Porsche's iconic 911 sports coupe ever.
It's not only among the quickest Porsches ever built, but is claimed to match the long-running Nurburgring production-car lap record set by Porsche's million-dollar, left-hand drive-only Carrera GT.