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. For now that seems to be working as Porsche is doing well.
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. Despite of all these changes I really like the looks of the new car.
The 911 keeps impressing even when you look the numbers. Allthough the new engine is now watercooled, the car is bigger in all directions and has more electrical toys then ever, the car actually weighs 50 kg's less then the 993 and it weighs only 100 kg's more than the golf IV GTI.
And even if there are some faster cars on the market, the 911 will probably beat them on looks. The rear of the car is absolutely brilliant! I think the back of the car is definitely the best feature of the new design. It seems like the designers felt guilty about designing those head-lights, and wanted to make up for that with the rear lights.
Allthough I really like the new car I'm still not sure wether this car is a worthy bearer of the 911 type-badge. The 996 now looks like a modern car. That's ok, because it is a modern car. But on the other hand I wonder if a 911 should be so 'slick'. The 911 has always been different from other cars. No other manufacturer would have continued to improve upon a car, that has such a difficult lay-out. The roadholding of the first 911's was so bad, people would lay bricks in the nose of the car to keep it on the road. Because there was so much weight at the back of the car you could, when taking a corner a bit to fast, suddenly be doing 80 km/h ---backwards. The 911 was notorious for suddenly spinning without any prior warning. Driving a 911 you always had to be carefull not to push it to far. The 911 was for experienced drivers only. Because of this behaviour the 911 became so legendary. The roadholding improved over the years, but the 911 never lost it's sting.
Compared to that the 996 is much more civilized. As one magazine said:'It simply goes where you point it. It enhances your skill, rather than punishing you for the lack of it.'
Another magazine described the feelings of most 911 enthousiasts:So obviously has Porsche shifted the values of its foodsoldier that, for the first time ever, it is no longer accurate to call the 911 a sports car.
Although it lacks decent rear seat space, the 911 is more grand tourer than sports car now. And that can be regarded in two distinctly different ways: as a possitive step forwards that will stand the model in fine stead come the next century; or as a crying shame that one of the most characterful and evocative cars of our time has all but dissapeared. In reality of course it is both.
A modern car should be perfect in every way, but a 911 should always have it's peculiarities, because they make a 911 what it is.
Well enough sentiment for now. The porsche engineers really had no other choice. In order to survive the 911 had to attract more buyers, instead of the select group of 911 devotees. And this design probably will succeed in that. Every Porsche-fan should agree that the survival of Porsche is the most important thing, and if this car will manage that, so be it!
The new shape of the car means that aerodynamics have improved. The drag co-efficient has been lowered from 0.33 to 0.30. This was achieved by the sloping of the headlights and the windscreen. Doorhandles and glass are now flush fitted. Because of this there is very little wind noise, so you can hear the flat-six water-cooled engine rev up to the red line at 7000 rpm. The engine becomes really powerfull at 2800rpm. Acceleration is served up in one long, seamless rush from here on, terminating at a 7500rpm limiter that is set purely for engine-longevity. Driving in fifth gear you'd be doing about 247 km/h. Shifting to sixth gear you will reach the top speed of 280 km/h, which seems adequate to me.
In the summer of 1998 Porsche introduced the cabriolet version of the 996. The previous Cabriolet's had always been based on the coupé.
I think the car looks great. The folded top is now integrated in the bodywork instead of placed on top of it. Even with the top closed or with the standard hard-top the car still looks fantastic. According to the people who drove it, it is almost as stiff as the coupé The 996 Cabriolet is definitly a desirable car!
The new Carrera 4 will be available in november. The four-wheel drive system now only weighs 50 kg more then the conventional two-wheel drive system. The Carrera 4 is also equiped with the new PSM system (Porsche Stability Managent), wich is a system like Mercedes' ESP. The PSM makes it almost impossible to loose control over the car. It uses the individual brake at each wheel to control the car under extreem conditions. All 1999 911's will have clear indicator lenses, making them better distinguishable from the boxster, and tinted rear lights. The dots on the rear bumper of this car are from the parking-aid system, measuring distance between the car and the nearest object.
The 911 GT3
The new 911 GT3 was recently introduced (march 1999).
As all 911's this car will no doubt become popular with the tuners.