Arriving in late 1997, the 996 model 911 was Porsche’s ground-up, reworking of the 911 concept. Revolution over evolution, an all-new car that Porsche simply had to build. Sharing much with the Boxster, out went the air-cooled flat-six, in favour of a more noise and emissions compliant, water-cooled flat-six. The purists might not have liked it, but they had to lump it. Although 25-years on, it’s hard to remember what all the fuss was about.
The 996 was bigger, but lighter than the outgoing 993 and was able to lay to rest some of the 911’s quirks, that had perhaps put off some buyers. It’s arrival was perfectly timed too, taking advantage of a global economic boom and a much wider customer base, for what was a more mainstream model.
Not that the 996 had sanitised the 911. It was (and still is) largely unique in a front and mid-engined sports car world, with a balance, feel and signature all of its own and that sonorous flat-six howl from the rear.
And of course, Porsche pulled off its masterstroke of spinning many different variants from the one basic concept from the base Carrera 2, right up to the mighty GT road racer GT models. But the pinnacle as per all 911s from 1974 onwards was/is the 911 Turbo.
The 996 Turbo arrived in 2000, with 420bhp (the later Turbo S, would get 450bhp) and near 200mph and 0-60mph in 4.5secs, from its Mezger (named after legendary Porsche engine man, Hans Mezger) derived 3.6-litre twin-turbo powerplant. In a world of 996 engine conspiracy theories, the Mezger engine is considered bomb-proof.
Like the preceding 993 Turbo, the 996 Turbo featured four-wheel drive. All the better for laying down all that power. It was to all intents and purposes a ground seeking missile, that could show a clean pair of tail pipes to anything that cared to challenge it in the real world, particularly on UK roads.
And yes, the everyday, all weather, practical supercar and other such clichés were trotted out, by the press, but the thing is it’s all true and the 911 Turbo – 996 or otherwise – is all the better for these unique abilities.
Which brings us to this late 2005 model 996 Turbo S in stealthy Slate Grey metallic. First delivered by Porsche Centre West London, it’s a car that we’ve seen before and has even been the cover star on 911 & Porsche World magazine.
With just 37,000-miles on the clock it is in excellent shape. It’s a six-speed manual too, which makes it even more desirable and being a late S, it benefits from the full 450bhp.
Spec wise it’s just how we like them. That’s to say, not dripping with options, just a nicely contrasting extended black leather interior and Alcantara headlining. Heated seats are a welcome interior addition. Stand out option, though, are the Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes (PCCB) and the defining ‘Big Yellow’ six-pot callipers. Massive braking power back then and still pretty awesome today.
The history stacks up well, with a full folder of corresponding service documents from mix of Porsche Centre and Porsche specialists. As you expect in view of low mileage, maintenance has been largely routine, with no nasty surprises.
ON THE ROAD
It’s the last of the analogue 911 Turbos, with just the basic PSM system to keep things in check. That’s a good thing.
And from the driver’s seat, it’s a tactile experience from chatty (hydraulic) steering to the manual interaction of changing gear, to the seat of the pants communique with the ever-shifting balance of power and grip. As ever with a 911, you don’t want to be rigidly hanging on, you need to go with it and in this respect the 996 Turbo is just the perfect weapon, working with the road, not against, and flowing along on surges of boost seemingly just scratching its performance envelope. This is useable performance on a grand and flexible scale.
The current 992 Turbo is too big, too fast and too heavy with tech. This 996 Turbo is a reminder of a simpler time and its all the better for it.