Ownership Review written by Donald Hossack
Owning a Porsche 911 Turbo in 996 guise has been nothing short of phenomenal. I’ve had mine for over seven years now and covered 35,000 of the 79,000 mile total, so clearly I am smitten. The 996 Turbo is a 6 speed manual, Basalt Black model with a full black leather interior. Options that were selected when new include the aluminium interior trim pack, white dials, electric seats and Alcantara roof lining. The electronics that help make this car so useable, Porsche Stability Management, regardless of the weather, came as standard on the Turbo.
So what drew me in to 996 Turbo ownership? It was the combination of supercar performance, a reputation of reliability, the four wheel drive safety net, it’s suitability for occasional track use and the 2+2 layout that meant I could even take my son and daughter along for the ride. When you try and factor all of these attributes into a car, nothing comes even close to offering what the 996 Turbo can. I briefly looked at the Subaru Impreza, Audi TT, Mercedes SL and even closer to home with the 911 Carrera 4S but when I first sampled the 996 Turbo acceleration I knew it was the one I had to have on my driveway.
I didn’t rush into ownership though, it took around eight months for me to find my 996 Turbo. In the end I purchased from a private seller. A full service history and Porsche warranty were vital for me and it was surprising how many fell short of this prerequisite I had laid down. I travelled as far as Hull, which is a huge distance considering I reside in Edinburgh! I viewed a few in dealerships but they were not the full package I was after. A few cars I went to see had obviously been used hard and it showed. Whilst the car is built for this, I wanted to make sure I got one in excellent condition so that there was less chance of any wear and tear repairs imminent.
Even seven years down the line, I can’t help a huge grin forming across my face when I walk up to my 996 Turbo and am about to get in. It’s the anticipation of being about to drive (in my opinion) the world’s most iconic supercar. The thought of the thrills, fun and connection with the road I am about to have get to me every time. For me, the 996 Turbo offers up the ultimate driving experience, no matter what the road or conditions. I also think it’s a beautiful car visually, with the wide body, rear spoiler and front air intakes. With time I think more enthusiasts will warm to the 996 styling in the same way they have with the 993.
Once I’m sitting comfortably in the drivers seat it’s time for the fun to begin. I twist the ignition key to prime the fuel pumps. One final twist and I am greeted by a rumble and muted exhaust note as the car initially revs slightly above idle. The revs then settle down as the twin turbo charged engine starts to warm up. Pulling away on a chilly morning, the car feel slightly lumpy through the controls. I have a short shift kit fitted to the manual gearbox which also doesn’t help when the box is cold. But once everything is up to temperature, it all starts to flow beautifully. From that point on it feels like the car is tugging at you like it’s on a leash wanting to be set free. It is a very easy car to live with on the road, completely solid at speed, it has very precise steering that fills you with confidence no matter how you drive it. On the inside It is quiet – just a ‘whoosh’ when revving hard from the turbos. The level of comfort offered by the seats and controls truly make the 996 Turbo for any driving situation. Even with the short shift kit, the car drives silky smooth at town speed. It rides pot holes well and it is compliant at all times, adapting to the conditions.
Compared to other supercars from the Italians it is very understated, but it certainly gets lots of admiring looks from pedestrians and other car drivers. In all the years of ownership, I’ve never had anything negative said about the car. Porsche cars don’t ‘date’ like other makes, a point proven when a friend said to me that my 996 Turbo looked good for a three year old car – when I corrected him and said it’s actually twelve years old he couldn’t believe it.
In terms of driver controls, they are perfectly weighted, which helps give you a level of confidence in the car’s abilities and also lets you know exactly what is going on at each corner. The car does feel lighter as speed gathers and the information and feedback is full on through the pedals, steering wheel and seat. The 996 Turbo feels quite light footed when behind the wheel, responding immediately to direction changes and also keeping composed no matter what gradients and cambers you throw at it. I feel a big connection with the road when driving the 996 Turbo, it inspires total confidence, which can’t be said for many other supercars.
The 996 Turbo is defined by that shaped rear end, it has evolved through the decades and in my opinion the 996 is right up there in terms of proportions and style. The front, side and rear air intakes let you know that this car truly means business, lurking inside is a monster of an engine that needs all of that cool air. The rear spoiler is purposeful yet understated, at least compared to the original rubber whale tail of the 930 Turbo!
Porsche spent a huge amount of time and effort developing the interior and it really shows as soon as you get in. The classic dial design that traces it’s route back to early 911s which incorporates the speedo and rev counter includes all the information the driver needs to know with just a glance, vital if you’re traveling at a rate of knots, as the more you can keep your eyes on the road ahead, the better.
The 996 Turbo has a new stablemate, in the shape of a 991 GT3. It is the most outstanding car I can ever imagine owning alongside the 996 Turbo. For a variety of reasons I was unable to drive the 996 Turbo for a month, so when I started it up and set off down the road, I had the biggest rush of excitement as I realised just how fantastic a car it is. I actually said to my wife that I could sell the GT3 and live with the Turbo as our only Porsche and be very, very happy. It never fails to thrill me and indeed all my family. It remains a totally exciting car to own and I would buy another one at the drop of a hat. I will never part with the 996 Turbo not even for a newer model.
I’ve been to the Nürburgring and Spa for track days with the car and being able to use most of the cars performance on and off track (speeds of 180mph) is an incredible feeling. This year as part of a group I went to watch the Old Timers racing at the Nurburgring and driving the car alongside Ferraris, TVR and other Porsches showed that it was more than a match for exotica, even more modern machinery.
It still amazes me that I can drive the car for a week in Germany, both on and off track using all of it’s performance, then return to the UK and pootle down to the shops to pick up some groceries.
I prefer to go beyond the minimum maintenance requirements with all my cars and as a result there has been quite a lot of upkeep work done to the 996 Turbo during my ownership, but by no means is the majority of work done out of necessity. Some of the major outlays over seven years of ownership include, replacing one of the turbos, air conditioning condensers, clutch, full suspension rebuild, brakes and two sets of tyres. I’ve had a spot of rust on a rear wheel arch rectified along with both front inner wheel arches and front bumper painted due to stone chips. I always use genuine Porsche parts and have the servicing and majority of work done at Porsche Edinburgh. My local independent garage does minor work on the car if required.
All the work pays off though, the car has been a popular display at numerous Porsche Club Great Britain events, the car has won the Region 1 annual concours three times with all the preparation and detailing carried out be my son. The car is truly a family car and driven regularly by me, my wife, son and daughter. All have driven it on road and track.
I’m very particular and the car truly wants for nothing. Mine had a Porsche warranty for the first ten years of it’s life and I ensured everything was kept tip top condition. In general terms servicing is very reasonably priced, especially when you factor in supercar performance on tap.
Over the next few years I think values of 996 Turbos in good condition will remain static or possibly increase slightly, there is renewed interest in the older 911s generally and I think the 996 Turbo will also benefit as a result of this, since it is such an iconic car. I don’t think I would ever sell my 996 Turbo and given the fact I have complimented it with a new GT3, I don’t think there is any replacement out there that’s suitable.
Written by Raj Hunjan
The much anticipated Turbo was released in 2000. Rather than basing the twin turbo supercar on the new water cooled Carrera unit, the company instead elected to reengineer the previous 993 engine and add water cooling. This was a masterstroke because it meant that 996 Turbo owners were assured engine reliability from the outset.
Carrying on the line of the famous Mezger GT1 powerplant probably helped boost the desirability of the car, Porsche had forecast first year sales of 2,500 units, they actually sold over 4,000 units in that time. The twin turbo, four-wheel drive setup was a hit among buyers. The option of ceramic brakes and later the X50 performance pack also proved to be popular choice among hardcore supercar fans. The 996 Turbo was the first 911 to feature Porsche Stability Management as standard, although it is rarely called upon due to the formidable grip levels generated by the all wheel drive system. Collectors are snapping up the best examples of the 996 Turbo.
Prices for the 911 Turbo 996 generation start at £35,000 and go up to £80,000 for manual gearbox, X50 pack cars with low mileage and low number of owners. Mileage and maintenance history appear to be the biggest drivers of price at the moment. Manual gearbox cars are the most sought after by collectors and some are only looking for the rarer X50 pack cars. Our advice is to buy the best condition car within you budget, with a comprehensive invoice backed service history. Get any car you want to buy inspected by an expert too.
The 996 Turbo engine is different from the Carrera models, it is actually based on the 993 aircooled unit which has been modified for water cooling. It therefore does not have the weaknesses of the Carrera models. There should be no oil leaks from the engine. The cam chain may be noisy at around 2,500 rpm, make sure it is investigated if it is. Ensure the turbos spool up correctly on the test drive and that there is no blue smoke from the exhaust during idling and test drive. Carefully inspect the front mounted radiators and air conditioning condenser for any corrosion or damage, leaves and road debris are prone to collecting around them.
Clutch & Gearbox
The clutch should be good for around 40,000 miles of normal driving before replacement. If the clutch pedal is stiff, this could be due to a failed hydraulic accumulator. Both the manual and Tiptronic gearbox are durable units. Check the gear change is clean, with no notches on the manual, as the linkage cables do wear with time and use. The all wheel drive system and transmission should be maintenance free, but check from underneath for any gasket leaks.
Suspension & Steering
The suspension and steering are both hard wearing, but bear in mind that bushes and mounts might need refreshing if they are still the original items. Prices are reasonable for component parts.
Check the brake discs for wear and corrosion on both sides as often the inside will wear the most. Carbon composite brakes were an option on the Turbo and fitted as standard on the Turbo S, make sure they are in perfect condition if they are fitted, as new discs are £3,000 each.
Wheels & Tyres
Check for any damage on the alloys. The tyres should be Porsche approved N-rated tyres that are a matching brand. Tread wear should be even across each of them, if not the car may need suspension work.
Bodywork & General
Check headlights for condensation buildup and the bodywork for any evidence of resprayed paintwork that may point to accident damage repair. Corrosion shouldn’t be an issue, but check all areas of the car including the underside. Make sure the hydraulic rear spoiler raises at 70mph.
There were five recalls over the life of the 996 Turbo, make sure all the corrective work has been carried out, evidenced with stamps in the service booklet. Servicing is every 12,000 miles or annual.
“With four-wheel drive, a water-cooled engine, a smooth new bodyshell and radically updated cabin, it was a thoroughly sophisticated, all-weather, all-road supercar. And though it went out of production in 2005, in real terms it’s still as quick as anything on the road.”
EVO Magazine, 2009
“ It is probably the best turbo installation ever, and provides effortless power in every gear from as little as 1800rpm. The 996 Turbo does things other cars can’t do, with huge amounts of grip, poise and steering ability. And this time it’s not a dull experience – perhaps the most impressive thing about the car is the balance it strikes between ultimate driver involvement and comfort. And this time it’s not a dull experience – perhaps the most impressive thing about the car is the balance it strikes between ultimate driver involvement and comfort.”
2000 – The 996 911 Turbo was unveiled with a water cooled version of the previous 993’s motor in twin-turbo 3.6-litre form. Peak power was a heady 414 bhp and the 996 Turbo was capable of reaching 0-60mph in around 4.0 seconds. It was fitted with Porsche Stability Management as standard. A six speed manual or five speed Tiptronic automatic were available from the outset.
2002 – The X50 upgrade became an option from new. The pack increased power to 450 bhp by fitting larger turbos, reworking the ECU, intercoolers and also reinforcing the gearbox.
2004 – A Cabriolet version of the Turbo was launched in 2004.
2005 – The Turbo S model was released and came as standard with the X50 pack and carbon ceramic brakes discs. The standard 996 Turbo was discontinued, the Turbo S continued for a short period alongside the new 997.
Buy MotorStars Magazine #39 which contains our full 14 page article about all aspects of buying, owning, the factory options, available colours, technical specification, part prices for the Porsche 911 Turbo (996): click here