Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, December 2014

Porsche 911 Turbo

Pondering fitting winter tyres to the Turbo, and trialling a cheap upgrade to the PCM system.

The clocks have gone back, it’s dark when I leave the house in the morning and when I get home at night, the temperature has dropped into single figures and the roads seem permanently wet. That’s just the sort of weather for a 450bhp all-wheel drive supercar, right? 

Driving the Turbo in the dark makes it seem even faster, particularly down unlit back roads, and while in the daylight I’m now confident enough to deploy the afterburners at almost any opportunity, in the dark I’m finding myself more circumspect.  Add slippery roads and the first frost or two into that mix and I’m very glad of the broad footprint and excellent traction of the Turbo as the weather becomes more wintry.

Speaking of winter, I had wondered whether to fit a set of winter tyres to the Porsche, in anticipation of potential ice and snow in December and January. The Porsche handbook has a section on winter tyres, recommending a 225/40 front tyre, which is the same as for summer tyres, but a 265/35 rear on a 10J rim, which normally runs 295/30-section tyres on an 11J rim. So, in order to fit winter tyres I’d need to buy another set of rims and a set of spacers at the rear to accommodate the narrower wheel, in addition to the tyres themselves. I did briefly considered trying to stretch a 265 tyre onto the standard 11J Turbo twist alloys, but that didn’t seem like the safest thing to do!  At this point I discovered that it’s hard to find N-rated winter tyres in these sizes anyway, so for this winter I’ve decided to keep the car on its summer rubber, and leave it on the drive if and when the snow falls.

One weather-based upgrade I will be making in the next week or two is to fit a set of mesh grills behind the intakes in the front bumper. The oversize nature of the intakes on the Turbo make it very easy for leaves and other road debris to gather inside the bumper, so fitting black mesh behind the intake apertures in the bumper is a common fix to prevent autumnal leaf mulch from blocking the radiators.  I had considered giving this a go myself since Design 911 sell a ready-to-fit kit for the 996 Turbo, but given that the car is going into my local Porsche specialist for an oil service and general health check in a couple of weeks, I’ll ask them to fit the mesh and save myself the embarrassment of getting it wrong!

Following on from my musings on replacing the aging PCM1 system last month, this month I’ve been trialling a budget solution to getting modern navigation and music integration into the Turbo. I’ve bought a Belkin Aircast Bluetooth FM transmitter that I can pair with my iPhone for music and phone calls, and I’ve discovered that I can use an old, SIM-less smartphone as a sat-nav and sharing the data connection from my new phone, which allows me to use either Google Maps or the TomTom app. It’s a bit fiddly to get it all set up so I only bother for longer journeys, but it does give me up-to-date navigation and digital radio without having to spend thousands on a new head unit.

The Turbo has seen quite a bit of daily use for the second month running, this time being pressed into service as my wife’s daily driver while the family car was in the garage for repairs. This has meant Mrs S having to drive the car for the first time, something she initially wasn’t very keen on. Being quite a bit taller than me, she found the legroom rather lacking in the drivers seat, mainly because the steering wheel doesn’t have rake adjustment so her knees ended up being pressed against the bottom of the steering wheel. I’ve been told very firmly that the next Porsche has to fit her properly! Space issues aside, the Porsche acquitted itself well on her daily commute, but it’s safe to say she’s not going to be fighting me for the keys any time soon.

This article was originally published in the January 2015 issue of GT Porsche magazine.