(1998 – 2001) Porsche 911 Carrera – Ultimate Guide
The 996 series 911 was a monumental update to the 911 story. The Carrera 2 Coupe was the first 996 model (followed which was Cabriolet introduced July 1998). The Type 996 introduced water-cooled engines and it also ushered in a new body design. The roof line with a windscreen which is around five degrees flatter gives the side view a more fluid look. Gone was the “classic” 911 design, the entire main body now much sleeker. From the outside, the big headlights were oddly shaped and that brought a lot of criticism from Porsche fans around the world. Turn-signals were now placed at the bottom of the headlights and from the side, the flush bodywork, without any enlargements for the wheel-arches, offered a clean looking profile.
Inside, the car was fitted as standard with a stereo and air-conditioning. Since it was the base model in the stable, it didn’t feature too many luxury items, but those were on the options list. The standard seats could have been upgraded to power-adjustable leather seats. It was the first Porsche 911 with a center stack. The 911 featured two seats in the back, but very cramped. Those were installed mainly for tax and insurance purposes.
Let’s talk engine for a minute. The flat six in the Carrera 996 was a newly-developed 3.4-litre flat-six engine that offered power of 296 bhp @ 6800 rpm and torque of 258 ft lbs @ 4600 rpm. This was the great step-change in the history of 911 engines as this generation was for the first time powered by a flat water-cooled engine. Thanks to four-valve technology it got a nice bump in power over the prior generation engines and was regarded as pioneering in its emission levels, noise and fuel consumption. It was mated as standard with a six-speed manual. A 5-speed automatic (Tiptronic) with manual override to shift gears was on the options list. As always, the Carrera 2 was rear-wheel-drive. Performance was impressive, with 0 to 60 mph taking just 5.2 seconds and top speed of 174 mph. The Carrera coupe also completed the quarter mile in just 13.3 seconds.
When the 996 replaced the 993, only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission were retained in revised form. The 996 had a drag coefficient of Cd=0.30 resulting from hours spent in the wind tunnel. The 996 is 185 mm (7 in) longer and 40 mm (2 in) wider than its predecessor. It is also 45% stiffer courtesy of a chassis formed from high-strength steel.
The most striking design feature was the front headlights with integrated indicators – at first controversial, then often copied by other manufacturers. Inside the car the driver was in a totally new interior. In addition to the typically sporty qualities, drive comfort now also played a greater role. The 911 Carrera was the lightest of all the 996s, with early manual cars weighing in around 2,900 pounds. It was 50 kg (110 lb) lighter despite having additional radiators and coolant than its 993 predecessor.
The 1999 model was the only 996 to have a throttle cable connecting the gas pedal to the engine — perhaps a desirable feature for some shoppers. Go with a 2000 model or later and you’re treated to e-gas, and possibly Porsche Stability Management (PSM) on cars so optioned. PSM is an electronic traction/stability control system tuned for maximizing performance, not necessarily recovering lost traction in bad weather — though it certainly will do just that. The transition to e-gas saw a four-horsepower increase to 300 for 2000 and 2001 models. In 2002, all Carreras received a larger 3.6-liter flat six, now with 320 hp. We cover that elsewhere.