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996 Turbo / 997 Turbo - Comparisons.


Super Moderator
29 Jun 2010
I've been intending to write this for over 4 months as a number of people have asked me why I made the change from a 996 Turbo to a 997 Turbo and what differences I have noticed between the two.

I was fortunate enough to have both the cars at the same time for a few weeks so I had the chance to make direct comparisons and a few notes at the time but I've never gotten round to writing them up. Yesterday I had lunch with a long term best mate who I hadn't seen since we had a day out in my 996 Turbo and he asked the same questions. For the first time I was able to talk through my thoughts and whilst they're fresh in my mind I thought I'd put them down in writing. The upside to the delay is that I've had longer to evaluate the 997T after having nearly two years in the 996T.

Firstly, I must make it clear that the cars I'm referring to are standard cars with Mezger engines and Tiptronic gearboxes so my comparison is quite specific. I'm not intending to make a case for either being superior to the other. Owners of both often express their preference and as this is such a subjective matter I'd never attempt to sway either. To this end I will try to remain objective but it'll be difficult for me as in so many ways the cars are so very similar.

When I first drove the 997T my 996T had been SORN'd for two months and the spirited test drive blew me away. Any doubts I'd had when considering making the change were quickly dispelled. I knew from that first drive that I would be buying the newer car, sooner rather than later. Having made that decision I realised that I was going to have to get the 996T ready for sale and that meant getting it back on the road. After taxing it I went for a decent run and was quite amazed to feel that perhaps I'd been 'a bit premature'. After two months slobbing about in ordinary cars I'd forgotten just how quick my old 'Polaris' actually was! I spent the next three days hooning around my local 'blat tracks' seriously wondering what the hell I'd done.

Finally March 1st came and I was able to try the two cars out 'back to back'. I'd made some mental notes along my various routes and set about doing some comparisons in 'Red'. Straight away I could definitely tell which was the more powerful car although most of the extra 59 horses don't make themselves known until you get quite high into the rev range. In the right gear I'd never thought of the 996T as having any Turbo lag but the VTGs on the new car made power delivery even more linear without diluting that 'OMG' experience that everyone who's ever accelerated hard in a 911 Turbo knows so well.

A lot of 996T owners that have also driven the 997T make reference to the fact that the 996T seems more 'alive' and is consequently more like a classic 911 to drive. I can't argue with that as the older car definitely feels older. In fact one of the biggest differences I've noticed is that the whole feel of the chassis, and especially the way the suspension works, make it seem like there was more than the actual 6 years development between the two cars. The extra refinement isn't to everybody's taste but it suits me and, as much as I loved the look of 996T interior, the 20th century build quality did let it down. Overall I'd summarise my thoughts by saying that the 997T feels more like a GT car than a sports car although, of course, on the odd days that I do miss the more raw feel of the 996T all I need to do is press the 'Sport' button. As well as remapping the engine of the car the suspension is firmed up to make it buck and squirm just like a 996T driven in anger. The extra torque also available at this time is where the increased road/track 'oomph' of the newer car really shows. In 'Sport mode' the improvements made to the Tiptronic box also show and the car is immense fun to drive, especially in 'M', but also in 'D'. Sadly I'd have to report that whilst it's a great town car and cruiser in 'D' the ferocity of kickdown is more noticeable than in the 996T and isn't a nice experience.

I expect the overall running costs of the cars to be similar. The 997T is 10-15% more economical but it will take a lot of annual miles to make up the £215 difference in road tax.

Looks wise everything is subjective. From the front the 997T just seems so much newer - although when parked next to a 991T it already looks dated - and whilst I have come to appreciate and accept the 'unique' headlights of the 996T I could never love them. What I did love and sorely miss though is the look of the rear quarters. The whole rear end of the 996T is just so 'right' and it upsets me to compare it with the characterless lump of plastic stuck on the back of mine. From the side I'd have to say the 997T gets my vote but both look great - It's probably the wheels that swing it. Inside the car I always enjoyed the near classic simplistic looks of the 996T and if it were possible I'd definitely swop the centre/PCM dash for mine. The instrument cluster I can live with (although I would prefer the black dials from a 996T) but I'd happily scrap the horrid looking, useless, Chrono 'carbuncle'. The one thing that can't be argued though is the overall difference in build quality. My 2007 car seems a lot more than 3 years newer than the 2004 car it replaced.

Five months in I have never regretted making the change when I did. The timing was right for me. I bought the 996T when prices were rock bottom and although I paid a premium by buying a lowish mileage car that had been completely 'sorted' from a dealer it meant I had 10.5 k miles/23 months trouble free use. The rising prices during that time meant that even selling it through a dealer only cost me £2k and I've made that back already by the way that 997T prices have gone up recently.

As it was a 58k mile Tip' my 996T was never going to be a collector's item but I would have become less comfortable just jumping in and driving it and would have felt obliged to bring it up-to-scratch cosmetically which would have cost me £££'s that I'd rather spend on fuel. I chose to own a 911 that I could enjoy driving. I've never been one to clean cars more than I drive them and I'm too old to change now. The 996T gave me everything I wanted from a car but I know that the 997T will give me that for a little longer just because it's a newer car to start with.

When the 997.1T was launched I saw it as a natural evolution from the already awesome 996T and 9 years on it seems proven that this was the case. When I was looking for a 996T very good examples were available for £25k and I read an article which concluded that it was 90% of a 997.1T for 50% of the money. At that time they had to be the bargain of the century and I'll always feel proud to have had one. During my period of 996T ownership the difference in prices decreased making the 'cost to change' far more palatable. Nowadays some people are paying similar money for a 996T in preference to a 997T which, although the 996T still represents great value for money, I find incredible. Then again, I wouldn't pay twice the money for a 993T over either of the newer cars. I'd rather have these two. :grin:

MOD EDIT: Discussions as to which is the better looking car have been moved to here.

===> 996T / 997T Some Very Personal Preferences
Nice read on my lunch break! - good write up hope you continue to enjoy the 997.
Nice write up - thanks for taking the time to do it.

Interesting to hear other people's take on the cars and I find it refreshing to know we are all different. For example - when I look at the two cars together, I prefer the headlights of the 996 over the 997 - they instantly tell you which model it is and I think they've grown into their looks.
Thanks for the info there Terry, very useful. I'm yet to drive a 997T but I think it's some thing I'm going to have to do! Soon!
Very informative great item :thumb:
Good write up dude........................legendary infact!!! Even if the 996 is better.
Great write up Terry and as you say very subjective

Yes well said JohnnyDangerous, 996 is the better !!! :thumbs:
An excellent and thoughtful piece. As a 66 year old 996T owner I must confess that the older car is more my era! I do not yearn for LED rear lights and find the 997 wheels rather 'blingy' If you can find a better rear end than the 996T it probably has hormones. The front lights look o.k. with clear indicator lamps and the interior is fine for this old fogey. The fact that my 2002 model is rapidly approaching its original cost after 5 years ownership is a welcome bonus. But the Porsche family is a broad church and differences of opinion are both welcome and refreshing. Must go now as nurse is bringing my cocoa......
Great post, and as a 996T owner it has answered the niggling question that I've had ever since I bought mine - it's a keeper!!
Nice write up.

All 911's find 'their own' status as time goes by. The 996t seems to be doing that now and that is probably why they are catching the 997t in price. My feeling is the 997t is not old enough yet to have started getting a status.. i.e. what it's known for.

911's always get better each new model but not everyone wants "better". I take character over modern everytime but understand why others don't.

So is the 997t "better" than the 996t at getting you from A to B? Definitely, does the 997t have more character than the 996t? I am yet to be convinced.


P.S Just for the record to demonstrate my 'unbias', I have driven or owned 930t, 993t, 996t, 997t and a 991t. Who wants to take me out in their 964t to complete the full house?
I agree with some of what is said here, Mine where both manuals, and the 996T was a cab and an X50.

I had them both for about 4 months i was going to keep the 996 as a daily, but after 9 years of ownership, and it being silver i was bored with it.

The 996 has some issues that i could never get my head round - the lights, and from some angles it can look a little awkward, in time the interior and its quality. But against the 997 it looks old.

I chopped in my 993 Turbo for the 996 because the 993T looked old inside!! i regret this everyday!!

The 997 was a return to form for me, thats why i bought one, but i nearly kept the 996 and that says a lot about it after 9 years!!
Rioja996TT said:
........ I must confess that the older car is more my era! I do not yearn for LED rear lights and find the 997 wheels rather 'blingy'

You'd be alright with mine then. It hasn't got LED rear lights and the 'blingy' polished faces to the wheels have been painted. :thumb:

Another upside to the painted wheels is that they match the coloured crests which I much prefer to the bright silver standard items.

Crikey there is some walking on egg shells going here...

Let's face it, there is not one single thing that is better on the 996T over a 997T other than the price.

They are older, slower, uglier, have a dated flakyier interior build, less economic, less better for the environment, have older tech, have more trim rattles, does not handle so well....etc....etc

Some of this cant be said about the older air cooled cars, they where pretty and had character.

I also have pictures of my two cars together from every angle, the 997 is a far far better looking car and was the much needed return to form.

There I have said it, my view of course.

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