The most sweepingly changed Porsche 911s ever arrived for model-year 1995: rear-drive Carrera and all-wheel-drive Carrera 4, each offered as a coupe and cabriolet. Collectively designated 993-series, they cost a cool $300 million to develop, but the money was well spent on what would turn out to be the last air-cooled cars Porsche would build.
Visually, the 993 echoed the late, great Porsche 959 supercar in a more fulsome lower body with wider, reshaped rear fenders. Front fenders were lowered to accommodate Porsche 959-style lay-back headlamps above prominent wrapped turn signal/foglight units and two thin, wide air slots below. Also new were a slimmer, full-width taillight lens; a wider auto-extending rear spoiler; and new 17-inch wheels that nevertheless had a classic Porsche 911 look.
A smoother nose and tidier bumpers marked the 993-series Porsche 911s in 1995.
This classicism was appropriate, for the timeless basic shape penned by Butzi Porsche so long before was still clear and intact. So, too, the traditional Porsche 911 cockpit, albeit with new seats, an attractive new four-spoke airbag steering wheel with full-hub horn press (no more little tabs to search for), minor controls redesigned to be handier and more intuitive, and a new ventilation filter to trap pollen and other impurities.
Despite a 3.3-inch gain in overall width, the 993 boasted the same 0.33 drag coefficient as the 964 it replaced. The smoother lower-body contours helped but so did a newly flush windshield, side glass pulled out 7mm to be near-flush, and new, so-called "air relief" vents in the front wheelarches.
Other dimensions changed little, if any. Even curb weight was little changed. In Carrera trim (the "2" was omitted), the 993 was just 23/33 pounds heavier than a manual/Tiptronic 964. Also unseen, but greatly noticed in driving, was a 20 percent increase in torsional stiffness.
Other body improvements included resited center-pivot wipers covering 80 percent of windshield area, beefier door beams to meet Washington's new 1997 standards for side-impact protection, and trunk room that increased 20 percent despite the lower front hood (though there'd been precious little space before).
Chassis revisions were just as extensive. The 3.6-liter engine was treated to a lower-mass valvetrain; hydraulic lifters requiring no periodic lash adjustment; lighter pistons and conrods; a stiffer crankshaft (still with eight main bearings) that eliminated the need for a weighty harmonic damper; a quieter new low-pressure exhaust system with twin catalysts and mufflers; and Bosch's latest Motronic 2.10 engine-management system with a hot-film air-mass sensor (replacing a less precise hot-wire type).
All this lifted horsepower to 270 at 6,100 rpm and peak torque to 243 pound-feet at 5,000. Valve covers, timing-chain cover, and intake manifold were now rendered in plastic-like composites, which didn't add muscle but did save weight and helped reduce noise.
To take advantage of its extra power, the 993 employed a new Porsche-designed six-speed manual transaxle with closer intermediate ratios and dual-cone synchros for first and second gears. Despite the added cog, the six-speed was no heavier and little larger than the old five-speed and was complemented by a lower-effort clutch.
Buyers who favored automatic transmission could order improved Tiptronic S, with shift maps optimized for the retuned engine, plus programming that allowed downshifts to be triggered by braking. Another nifty new touch was the pair of rocker switches in the upper steering-wheel spokes for hands-on gear-changing in "tip" mode. The floor quadrant was unchanged.
A new rear suspension was the 993's biggest single advance. Largely rendered in lovely aluminum castings, it replaced the feared semi-trailing arms of old with what amounted to double-wishbone geometry. Porsche called the arrangement "LSA," for "Lightweight-Stable-Agile," but it was really like Detroit's familiar "long-/short-arm" setup. Here, a solid A-arm sat below a triangulated two-piece upper member with bushings that gave stabilizing toe-in under braking -- the now-famous "Weissach" effect pioneered by the V-8 928.
This view of the 993 C4 chassis shows the new twin A-arm rear suspension.
Better yet, the whole assembly mounted on a cast-aluminum subframe -- a first for a rear-engine car -- which was rubber isolated to dampen noise and soften ride. The new rear end was also claimed to reduce unsprung weight and be easier to build. Front suspension was much as before, but an inch wider track and increased caster improved stability and on-center steering feel. The steering itself remained power rack-and-pinion, but a quicker ratio cut nearly half a turn lock-to-lock, to 2.47. Turn diameter was also tightened a useful two feet to 38.5.
Porsche seldom adds engine power without increased stopping power, so the 993's four-wheel disc brakes grew about 0.2-inch to nearly a foot in diameter. The rotors were also thicker, newly cross-drilled as standard, and treated to Bosch's latest "ABS 5," a three-channel antilock system with reduced pedal "kickback" and better ability to cope with uneven surfaces.
Speaking of traction, the 993 featured a new wrinkle called ABD -- Automatic Brake Differential. An extension of the ABS system, it used the same wheel-speed sensors and computer-managed hydraulic actuator to apply braking force to restore grip at any wheel at which slip was detected. While manual-shift 993s came with the usual limited-slip rear differential, ABD was optional for Carreras and standard on the Carrera 4.
The Targa was not offered for the 993-series, but the cabriolet was better than ever.
Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:
|Porsche 924, 944, 968
||Porsche 928||Porsche 959|
|Porsche Boxster||Porsche Cayenne||Porsche Cayman|
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