Life seems to move faster than ever now. It certainly does for Porsche. Take the newest Porsche 911 generation, the 997. It's been on the market only three model years, going on four, yet has already spawned 13 different versions: 10 Carreras (2005-2007), Turbo coupe and GT3 (2007), and a Turbo Cabriolet (for 2008). And we know a new GT2 is coming. By contrast, the 996-series took eight years to reach 13 models.
Why so many variations so quickly? In a word, money. As AutoWeek noted in March 2005: "Porsche execs will tell you this Balkanization of the 911 line is one reason profits have risen for 11 consecutive years since the doldrums of the early 1990s." Note, too, that in just the six years to July 2005, Porsche Cars North America increased sales a whopping 70 percent. That's an average annual gain of 11.7 percent. No other automaker currently comes close to such numbers, so it seems Zuffenhausen is doing something right.
This 2005 Porsche 911 Carrera coupe housed a lighter 3.4-liter M96 engine.
The 997-series was developed under project manager August Achleitner. Styling was a valedictory effort for long-time company design chief Harm Lagaay, assisted by Grant Larson, his soon-to-be successor and chief designer of the winsome Boxster. The new line launched in late 2004 with Carrera and Carrera S coupes. Equivalent Cabriolets followed a few months later. A quartet of all-wheel drive Carrera 4s doubled the model count for 2006. A pair of new-generation Targas arrived for 2007.
All non-S Carreras reprised the 3.4-liter M96 engine with twin overhead camshafts, 24 valves, and VarioCam valve-timing, but horsepower climbed by 10 to 325 at 6,800 rpm. Torque was again 273 pound-feet at 4,250 rpm. The extra horses mainly came from freer-flow intake and exhaust systems, but Porsche also trimmed reciprocating mass for improved "revvability." And the entire engine was lighter by 4.4 pounds, helped by exchanging the oil dipstick for an in-sump oil-level sensor.
S-models got their own 3.8-liter engine, the first time since 1977 that Carreras offered a choice of displacements. Stroke was shared with the 3.6 (3.26 inches/82.8mm), but the 3.8 had a bigger bore (3.90 inches/99mm versus 3.78/96mm) and higher compression (11.8:1 versus 11.3) to churn out 355 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 295 pound-feet at 4,600.
There were several other differences: a special lightweight intake manifold, reprofiled camshaft, repositioned fuel injectors, a Helmholtz resonator near the throttle body for a "throatier" sound, uprated water pump and oil cooler, and an aluminum vibration damper added at the pulley end of the crankshaft. For all this, the 3.8 was no heavier than the 3.6.
Transmissions were tweaked to handle the added power. The standard six-speed manual got a new thinwall aluminum case, plus beefier internals that included steel synchro rings (replacing brass). Gear ratios were shortened (raised numerically) by about five percent.
A repositioned shift lever with lower-friction cable linkage made for shorter throws and lighter effort. The optional five-speed Tiptonic S automatic was reprogrammed to "match revs" for smoother downshifts in hard driving, just as a keen driver might "blip" the engine when changing down with manual transmission. In addition, automatic upshifts were now prohibited even at redline with the lever in "Tip" mode. Adopted for durability were longer-life transmission fluid, higher-capacity fluid pump, and a larger oil/water heat exchanger.
With stylized engine compartments now in vogue, Carrera engines were newly dressed with black-plastic covers in a tided-up bay. S-model covers bore a snooty "3.8" badge, but an easier way to distinguish S from non-S was to count the exhaust pipes: two oval tips on Carreras, a round quartet on S-models. Either way, the exhaust system now included "two-stage cascade" catalytic converters designed to promote faster warmup and reduced cold-start emissions.
The exhaust system in the 4S was made to warm up faster. Here's a 2006 cabrio.
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|
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- 1995-1998 Porsche 911