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First Test Drive - Very worried


30 Apr 2006
After 5 years of Lotus ownership and with a family on the way - I need to sort out the fun car ie. need more than 2 seats - even if the rears are token (afterall what will a small kid care about foot-room?).

I'm not sure there is much choice in the 'fun with four seats' category; don't much fancy a saloon car (rules out the BMW, Audis, Mercs etc.), not brave enough to go Italian (a Maserati might have been fun). So it really only really leaves a 911.

So with budget 40-£50k - I went for a test drive in an 2002 C4 at my local OPC and am now very worried about the experience.

My first big concern was the seat which was awful - probably my own fault for not adusting properly. I'm 5'9 and average build and the seats were full leather sports seats. It felt like I was sat 'on' rather than 'in' them and my back was pretty sore after the 15 mins test drive. Is this a common short-coming? I know it is horses for courses but I would be interested if anyone had similar experiences or if it was just my own incompetence setting the seat position.

Secondly I came away feeling underwhelmed by the experience. The C4 was rather 'undramatic'. I don't doubt that the performance is there in the 911 - it just doesn't jump out of the car and yell it. The feedback was less than I'm used to, it struggled to outpace a BMWS 330 off a roundabout (again could just be me being outside the optimal rev range), the engine noise, while fantastic, was sub-dued (switchable sports exhaust anyone?) and I came away unsure that it is a car I would jump in and drive just for the sheer hell of it (which it pretty much all the Elise gets used for at the moment).

On the positive side though the grip was great, the car handled unadulations and rough surfaces in the road with much more poise than my similar vintage Elise. Also, despite being a significantly bigger and heavy car - it didn't feel it. They seems to have the extra weight in all the right places - even if some of it hanging out the back!!! Oh . . . and I won't even mention the build quality differential - I don't think I've been in a five year car that felt so solid.

Clearly some these concerns are driven by lack of familiarity - you learn when you can push the car and when you should be more cautious and of course your driving style changes.

So does this ring true for anyone else who made the switch from a lighter, lower power car to the 911? And how much of this is just first impressions from an all too short drive around the block? This was the first 911 I've driven - is there much difference in character between the models - ie. would I get a more go-kart-esque experience in any of the other 4 seaters.

Any thoughts (and/or re-assurance) welcomed. If I don't get one I don't know what else I can consider.

Many thanks


PS: it has to be a 996 - part of the 'case' for changing is based on the improved saftey features (ie. airbags that seem to be everywhere in a 996).

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56372
of course yer £40-£50k budget puts you also into a 993TT :twisted:
fully airbagged too........well front driver and passenger.......but its practically depreciation proof.....

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56376
Mk1 GT3

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56381
Previous poster said:
Quote: Originally posted by poon on 30 April 2006

Mk1 GT3
He wants 4 seats!

Lhd 996 TT fully loaded under 50K


Migration info. Legacy thread was 56382

The C2 drive has more feel to it, but round a track a C4 will be quicker and is probably safer in the wet/winter.

There has been a few threads on seating. I find it really comfy and had my Sports physio set up the seating - he thought the seats were pretty good. The sports seats are better for holding you in place - would be my choice in my next car.

Sports exhaust is definately more dramatic (don't worry about the switch - whowants to turn it off?).

If you couldn't beat a 330 off anything you were doing something wrong!

Maybe look for a C2S with sports seat, sports exhaust, PSM is worth having too!

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56384
Mike, you must have had the seat set up really badly. I had a 540 mile drive a few weeks ago ang got out as fresh as a daisy. I suffer quite a lot from a bad back and 8 hours in a car would normally leave me crippled. IMO, THE best seats I've ever come across in a car.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56385
I think the seating position is your problem, i dont think you adjusted it properly

I've sold Porsches for 3 years, prior to that i sold BMW's, i'm not sure where and how you drove it but 3.6 996's are a great car, i wonder if you were in to low a gear?

Having regularly driven 500 miles in a day in a 911, Its a far better car than a 330,

i think you need another drive,

then you'll return with a bigger smile on your face

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56388
As the others have said I think your seat set up was wrong, personally i find it takes ages to get the seat in just the right place.

I think you also need to drive a car a few times to really get the feel for it, I remember feeling underwhelmed when I drove a 996 Turbo for the 1st time. The other thing is that coming from an Elise yuou will notice a huge difference. A combination of factors give the Elise & Exige a far higher sensation of speed than you will get in most 996's. If you want the real go-kart feel then you need a GT3 but as mentioned above this has no rear seats so is out of the equation.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56389

Without this sounding like a seminar I will give my thoughts. I am speaking as a Chartered Physiotherapist and have looked at many a car to aid patients.

The sport seats in my C4S are excellent, ergonomically designed and probably the best seats I have experienced for long distance comfort. Spent nearly 5 hours in one go recently up to North Wales and not a hint of any low back pain. The seat height and upright positioning and distance to pedals and wheel need to be experimented with. (5 hours on one tank of fuel really impressed me :eek: )

Sitting at the incorrect distance from the pedals will not give comfort, your lumber musculature is working over time, this will also eventually cause mid thoracic and neck pain, eventually arm pain with the potential for nerve root irritation, although I am going of at a tangent here but I have had a few patients over the years with symptoms like that and a simple seat adjustment was all it needed. Any way in the context of your test drive an incorrect seat position will definately reduce confidence in one's ability to drive. More so if it was your first 911 experience.

The change from the lighter cars will be something to adapt to. Having recently had the Caymann for a few days it was a different animal, more like a go-kart I actually felt sick with what my body perceived as "jarrier "acceleration. The 911 more planted feels like a proper car and needs to be driven in a different manner. Your skill aquisition for driving is rooted to lighter car and needs to be adjusted to what ever car you buy next. A 911 is a totally different machine and you will need to adjust to it, with correct seat positioning :wink:

Go out and test drive several, I spent over 12 months sourcing mine for the drive. The spec was not on top of my list it had to be the feel of the car. I am now worrying about the spec and seeing what I can do to bring things up :)

Any way here endeth the lecture, apologies as right in the middle of 3,000 word assignment that has to be handed in Tuesday so no playing with my C4S for a few days :(

Cheers Alan.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56391
Many thanks to those who who have offered their views. I have now had two more test drives - both in Carrera 2 and after some careful adjustment of the seat I have to say my initial experience has not been repeated - the seats seem fine.

I also find the C2 significantly more tactile than the C4 I tested - it definitely put a smile on my face.

So my question has moved on slightly. My budget gives me a good range of potential C2 options - from a '03 plate reaosnably spec'ed car from a porsche dealer through to some of the higher mileage 01/02 plates from specialists (where I can save £10k or so).

So my second question is: which would you take: how wary should I be of picking a high mileage car (ie. 60k+ vs a 40k+ car vs a 10-20k car). Having driven a few in different models the build quality seem so good that there is little benefit to the low mileage models (assuming they all have the appropriate warrantys, service history and I'm aware of the next service costs). I'm likely to drive 5-7k a year and keep the car 4-5 years.

Many thanks again.

- M

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56496
I wouldn't worry about an 01 with 50K miles on it, but if you are getting and 03 then you only want 20-30K on it. It's worth noting that Porsche on warranty cars up to 9 years old, so if you are going to keep the car for 5 years, then you may only want to buy a car 4 years old.

I have only had good experiences of specialists. When you buy the car you may be able to negotiate a good deal on a sports exhaust as well, worth doing at the time as there is quite a bit of labour involved (if you have the switch).

Good luck!

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56497
Mike, it's a nice dilemna to have. Definitely (IMHO) go for the facelift model - the 3.6 and as is so often said here, buy on condition. Logic says, go for the best conditioned, lowest mileage one you can find for your budget. Don't dismiss buying from an indie or indeed private, but do get them inspected first. To get the Porsche warranty anyway, you will have to get the 111 point check carried out by an OPC and have anything they find sorted. This costs £235 and then the warranty is £725. If you buy from an OPC, you'll get this anyway. Personally, I'd buy from a reputable indie after a good inspection which will cover more than the 111 point check. Then it's up to you if you take out the warranty and you will still have saved money. Stirlings have an arrangement with te OPC Exeter which will ensure you get the warranty as they have the 111 point check done on all of their cars and rectify accordingly.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your search.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56499
Am I right in think that any 996 with the 3.6l engine is a facelift model? What year did they make the change?

- M

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56502
Previous poster said:
Quote: Originally posted by mwhwsmith on 01 May 2006

Am I right in think that any 996 with the 3.6l engine is a facelift model? What year did they make the change?

- M

2002 model year which IIRC is August 2001 onwards

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56504
Previous poster said:
Quote: Originally posted by mwhwsmith on 01 May 2006

Am I right in think that any 996 with the 3.6l engine is a facelift model? What year did they make the change?

- M
Spot on Mike. As Roddy says, it is model year 2002 onwards. There may be some overlap with the month of changeover though.

Migration info. Legacy thread was 56508

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