Porsche 911 Turbo (996) 2003 

Every product that has been in production for several decades, going through multiple generations, has a version that becomes controversial. Often, it is the model that becomes innovative, changes the game, or undergoes a major redesign. You might wonder, what does the icon and benchmark of rear-engined automotive engineering – Porsche – have to do with this? Do you think everything has been smooth in their history?

This time, surprisingly, we won’t delve into the 80s or even the early 90s. Today, our story starts in 1998 when the wide public was introduced to the wide-bodied 996 in the 911 lineup. Every Porsche release is a sensation and a celebration for those who are willing to pay for what is undoubtedly the best range of rear-engined sports cars.
But this time, Stuttgart decided to enter the new century with a radically new exterior and updated technologies. Firstly, for the first time since 1965, the body was developed from scratch. It became larger with an extended wheelbase, and it almost completely departed from the classic Porsche forms. The roof visually appeared lower, the car hugged the ground more, resembling a true, modern sports car. The aerodynamic drag coefficient of the Carrera model was reduced to an impressive 0.3.

The front of the car borrowed design elements from the Boxter model, forming the brand’s signature style of that era. However, the headlights of the 996 often became the subject of jokes. Previously, the headlights were round, but the new design toward the hood (which is, of course, the trunk lid) was compared to a spread-out fried egg. Until the restyling in 2002, this was further accentuated by the yellow turn signal at the bottom of the headlight, which indeed resembled an egg yolk.

However, the revolutionary changes of the car did not only concern its exterior. For the first time, the engine received a liquid cooling system. Yes, indeed, its predecessor – the 993 – still cooled the engine with air, just like the VW Beetle and our incomparable Zaporozhets. This caused several issues, including reliability problems with the power unit and its power output. But this update faced criticism from orthodox Porsche enthusiasts, who claimed that the true king was no longer there and the 911 was not the same anymore. Considering that due to its high price, the car was purchased either by brand fans or wealthy people, often not young ones, it can be understood why they resisted change. Fortunately, engineers and marketers saw the obvious step of transitioning to the new system and did not revert everything based on the advice of customers.

Another non-obvious technical change was the absence of a differential lock, even as an option, for the regular 911 models. Presumably, this was due to the specific behavior of a rear-engined sports car in oversteer – people without special training could struggle to control the vehicle with a locked differential on slippery roads. This became another point of criticism for the 996, which later added up to a mountain of complaints.

The interior of the sports car has sparked a lot of debate, although most of it emerged long after the model was released. The 996 is criticized for its simplicity and lack of premium shine, but it should be understood that it was the year 1998. The biomorphic design of the 2000s left its mark in the smooth curves of the dashboard, but this cannot be considered a drawback – such trends were in vogue at that time. The interior of the car in the photo is already quite luxurious, thanks to the restyling carried out in 2002. The color scheme of the interior is a delight for the eyes. In short, there is nothing to nitpick here. Of course, the 2+2 seating formula allows you to accommodate someone in the back, but that is usually the last thing people think about when buying such a car.

The “most unsuccessful” model spawned 12 different versions of itself and became a pioneer in the new century. Its successors would eventually reach the pinnacle of the elite sports car world, while the 996 itself would become the cheapest 911 at some point.. 

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