Written on: 08/10/2003 by Galactus (4 reviews written)
Very reliable, practical (for a sports car), excellent performance, predictable & exciting handling, high build quality & finish
Expensive to run / repair, picks up stone chips on front bumber regardless of how slowly you drive, lack of luggage space for long-distance touring, Porsche customer service not what you'd expect for a car costing over £60000!
My Porsche 911 Carrera (996) was, on balance, a brilliant car. They take a bit of getting used to, the car is very precise in it's controls - light clutch, strong progressive brakes and an accelerator where every millimeter of travel gives an instant increase in power - so far so good. The tricky bit comes in going round corners fast - the car grips very well if you keep the throttle nailed down hard, if you lift off then the rear end can break away quite badly. Be brave, if you do get it wrong, the traction control is quite effective, but not idiot proof. The steering is very sensitive, which is great on country lanes, but on long motorway hauls it twitches and wanders a bit, not that relaxing.
To live with, the car is as easy as a family hatchback - it deals with heavy London traffic easily, below 3000 revs, it's quick, but remains docile and relaxed - wind it up past 4500 and it really kicks off. The engine sounds great at high revs, like a chainsaw behind your ears. Nobody ever beat me off the lights - except a supercharged AMG Mercedes SL (the new one).
It was luxurious, the sports seats option made a great difference to long distance rides. You can fit a big bag in the front, and if you fold the rear seats down, a suitcase or two - if you squeeze. I once got 3 people in it for a trip to Cradiff, but they were uncomfortable in the back after about 30 mins.
It had some problems, the gear linkage broke and it jammed in 1st gear (at about 60 mph in a motorway tunnel) which was pretty hairy. The Porsche warranty is pretty limited, and didn't cover this which meant arguing with the dealer until he agreed to fix it - bearing in mind it nearly put me & the car into a nasty accident, this was very disappointing. The nose gets chipped all the time by stones on the road. Getting the front bumper re-sprayed costs about £800, too, so this is a pain. It also hates speed bumps (14mph max or scrape it badly). The wide low-profile tyres look cool but make for very noisy motorway driving, and the servicing is expensive - £350 per year for the service plus new brake pads (normally about £250) plus each tyre was £120, and it eats rear ones alarmingly quickly.
In summary, it's a very practical, fast and well enginereed car - safe in a crash, too. But it's expensive, and the people at Porsche London give the same kind of service my girlfriend gets from her Ford dealer - which isn't great.