1999-2001 Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 Features and Performance

Porsche had been steadily reducing the 911's infamous tail-wag tendency, and the 996-series was designed to have virtually none. But just to be sure, engineers devised a new electronic helper, the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system.

Standard on Carrera 4s and optional for rear-drive Carreras after 1999, it was much like the stability systems already offered for various BMWs, Cadillacs, Mercedes, even the Chevrolet Corvette, so Porsche was playing catch-up here. But PSM had one big advantage. To the delight of hard-core drivers, it was set to intervene only at relatively high cornering loads and in a much more gentle fashion.

Porsche 911
There were gadgets aplenty in the 996 Carreras, including the PSM system.

Like rival systems, PSM was integrated with the electronics for the antilock brakes and Porsche's Automatic Brake Differential traction control. A computer monitored sensor data on wheel speed, steering angle, yaw (rotation rate), gear position, and movement of the brake, clutch, and gas pedals. If the computer sensed excessive understeer or oversteer, it automatically braked, respectively, the inner rear wheel or outer front wheel to restore control without scrubbing off too much speed, though PSM could also reduce engine power in extreme situations.

Speaking of which, Porsche cautioned that PSM could not defy the laws of physics even with all-wheel drive, but engineers did provide an "off" switch to allow exploring the dynamic envelope for those brave and/or talented enough to do so.

Even then, PSM would switch back on if the brakes were applied, a provision doubtless decreed by Porsche's lawyers. Incidentally, PSM included a helpful new innovation called "E-gas," a "drive-by-wire" throttle operated by a tiny electric motor, controlled by the engine computer, instead of a mechanical linkage.

The accelerator pedal itself still pivoted at the floor, organ-style, but the brake and clutch pedals were now suspended from above. It was another first for a Porsche 911. So, too, a standard telescopic steering wheel and door-mounted side-impact airbags. Cabrios added mechanically operated rollover bars that popped up from behind the rear headrests when onboard sensors detected an impending tip.

All 996s came with a digital speed readout in the tachometer (still front and center in a five-dial gauge cluster, with an analog speedo to its left), plus automatic climate control with air filter, part-leather upholstery, power backrest recliners, heated power door mirrors, heated windshield washer jets, and keyless-entry power door locks with engine immobilizer and alarm.

Options were as plentiful as ever: full-leather upholstery, full-power front seats, heated front seats, burled maple cabin accents, a rear-window wiper for coupes, a wind blocker for Cabrios. New on the extras list were a parking assistance system, which sounded a warning of obstacles when backing up, and a tough-to-fathom GPS navigation system with dashboard screen and integrated vehicle info display.

Though all this was very plush and gadgety for the purposeful Posche 911, it was what buyers wanted in an age when fast driving on unclogged roads was becoming a rare pleasure.

But enough background, you say. What about performance? Well, the 996 had plenty of it in any form. Here's a summary of selected 1999-2001 test results by Car and Driver (C/D) and Road & Track (R&T), plus Porsche's own numbers (P):

Model (source) 0-60 mph (sec)
0-1/4 mile
(sec @ mph)
Top speed (mph)
Lateral accel (g)
MPG
C2 cpe, man. (P) 5.2 -- 174 -- 17
C2 cpe, auto. (P) 6.0 -- 171 -- 16
C2 cpe, man. (C/D) 4.6 13.2 @107
174 -- 18.0
C2 cpe, man. (R&T) 4.6 13.2 @ 106
-- 0.91 20.0
C2 cab, man. (P) 5.4 -- 174 -- 17
C2 cab, auto. (P) 6.0 -- 171 -- 16
C2 cab, man. (C/D) 4.9 13.5 @ 104
165 0.86 18
C2 cab, man. (R&T) 4.8 13.4 @ 105
-- 0.91 20.0
C4 cpe, man. (P) 5.2 -- 174 -- 17
C4 cpe, auto. (P) 6.0 -- 171 -- 16
C4 cpe, man. (R&T) -- -- -- 0.96 --
C4 cab, man. (P) 5.4 -- 174 -- 17
C4 cab, auto. (P) 6.2 -- 174 -- 16
C4 cab, man. (R&T) 5.6 14.0 @ 102
-- 0.94 15.2

Several things are apparent here. First, Porsche's performance claims were still conservative. Second, there wasn't much to choose between coupe and cabrio or rear-drive Carrera versus AWD C4 (no surprise given the relatively small differences in weight).

Tiptronic did slow things versus manual transmission, but that's true for most torque-converter automatics, and Tiptronic buyers were happy to trade a little thrust for two-pedal convenience, especially in the urban grind. Last but not least, 996s were reasonablly frugal with fuel despite their high-performance potential.

Porsche 911
A satellite-linked navigation system was a new year-2000 Carrera option.

Check out the complete story of Porsche cars, including these fabulous models:

Porsche 356
Porsche 911
Porsche 914
Porsche 924, 944, 968
Porsche 928 Porsche 959
Porsche Boxster Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayman

For Porsche prices and reviews from the auto editors of Consumer Guide, see: