Designers used the 997's wider stance to restore some visual muscle to Porsche 911 styling. Many critics approved, as the new look borrowed cues from the last of the fondly remembered air-cooled models, the 993-series. The nose, for example, was more raked and rounded than the 996's, while the front fenders were higher and more prominent in classic Porsche 911 style.
Glass-covered oval nacelles cradled simple round headlamps -- no more "runny egg" clusters -- while directionals and foglights moved to slim horizontal housings in the bumper below. The bumper itself contained a wide central air slot and two outboard intakes with central divider bar. Add in a reshaped front trunklid, newly rendered in aluminum, and you could almost see a 993 if you squinted.
All new Carreras came with a data display screen. Pictured is an '06 Carrera dash.
Taillamps were more angular and wrapped further around to meet an upswept join line (horizontal on 996s) between body and rear bumper. The engine lid was redesigned with four slats instead of seven, a change said to improve cooling effectiveness. As before, its integrated spoiler automatically deployed at 75 mph and retracted below 50, but a new override switch allowed raising the panel at other speeds.
Despite its wider body, the 997 was more slippery than the 996, the drag coefficient trimmed from 0.30 to an excellent 0.28 on Carreras and 0.29 on S-models. Contributing were new low-drag twin-arm door mirrors; a longer, smoother bellypan; ram-air flaps in the front fascia for improved radiator cooling; and little spoilers beneath the front end to direct air efficiently past the wheels.
Inside, most everything was redesigned and/or upgraded: steering wheel, seats, instrument cluster (larger, more legible dials spread further apart), audio and climate systems, even the cupholders, which now moseyed out from behind a slim door above the glovebox.
The airbag count rose to six: two in the dashboard, one in each outboard front-seat bolster, and a new one in each upper door panel. The last were sized to provide both head and torso protection in lieu of the increasingly ubiquitous roof-mounted curtain side airbags, which gave Cabriolets a safety plus among high-end convertibles.
All models came with Porsche Communication Management, the trip- and vehicle-data display whose central-mount dashboard screen also served an available navigation system, itself updated from a CD to a DVD database. S-models added a multifunction steering wheel with thumb controls for audio, navigation, and available telephone functions.
Seats? Take your pick. The standard front buckets included power backrest recliners and a new "pump handle" manual height adjuster (an idea cribbed from Volkswagen). You could also have 12-way power adjustment, including variable lumbar support via four internal air bladders. Sport seats with firmer padding and larger side bolsters were available, as were full-power "adaptive" versions with lateral bolster adjustment.
But the really trick option was a new Sport Chrono Plus Package. This added a digital/analog stopwatch and lap counter in a little dashtop pod, controlled by a steering-column stalk; data could be called up on the dashboard screen, just like a Formula 1 pit crew might do.
More important was the button for selecting more aggressive, performance-oriented control maps for the engine computer, ABS, and stability systems and, where equipped, active suspension and Tiptonic automatic transmission. Porsche had long known that some Porsche 911 owners would occasionally want to drive at "10/10ths" but without sacrificing everyday comfort and usability. Now these conflicting needs were reconciled, courtesy of digi-tech.
Cabriolets sported a redesigned top with a weight-saving magnesium frame that stowed lower in the car, thus dropping the center of gravity. A reshaped rear deck softened the previous "humped" look, and rear side windows now operated independently of the top. A lift-off hardtop was no longer standard, though still available; Porsche said most 996 buyers hadn't used it much.
Because the convertible was engineered alongside the coupe, structural reinforcing was modest: a boron rod in the windshield header, additional door-frame bracing, and double-thick side-sill stampings. As a result, the Cab's bare body-in-white was only 15.4 pounds heavier than the coupe shell.
The Targa coupe, arriving for 2007, carried over its predecessor's basic "big sunroof" design and rear hatch window, but now came only with the Carrera 4's all-wheel drive, a first for this body style. Model names were thus Targa 4 and Targa 4S. Both accentuated their side windows with an eye-catching strip of polished anodized aluminum arcing from A-pillar to C-post.
The Porsche 911 Targa arrived in 2007 with all-wheel drive.
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:
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- 2007 Porsche 911
- 1999-2006 Porsche 911
- 1995-1998 Porsche 911