Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, January 2015

Porsche 911 Turbo

Magazine cover glory and impromptu off-roading are all in a day's work for the Turbo this month.

By now you may have seen last month’s GT Porsche magazine with my car on the cover, and very lovely it looked too. I didn’t want to spoil the article by mentioning the shoot in last month’s report, but suffice to say it was a great pleasure to meet both Adam Towler and Andy Morgan and talk about 911 Turbos while trying to hide from the biting wind and freezing rain on a very cold December day!

It was also good have the opportunity to listen to the sound of the car from the outside while Adam and Andy got the cornering shots in the bag; the sports exhaust makes a noticeable difference to the timbre of the exhaust note, giving it a little more volume but more importantly unlocking more of the signature flat-six sound than the stock unit, and confirms my thoughts that if the car hadn’t come with one fitted when I bought it, I would have upgraded to a sports exhaust very soon afterwards.

Over the Christmas period, MVC saw more use than I expected, as various members of the family came down with assorted illnesses, and therefore required mercy missions to the shops for soup and painkillers, and to the pharmacy for antibiotics. There’s no sense in taking the slower family car when I can make the journey a little faster (and more fun) in the 911, is there?

I also visited a few friends in the car over the holiday period, including one who recently moved house to live next to a farm, necessitating some unexpected green-laning as you can see from the photos! I can confirm that the four-wheel drive does indeed help with traction in slippery conditions but as you might expect, the ground clearance of a 996 Turbo is not really suited to rutted farm tracks. We made it to the house safely, but annoyingly I’d kerbed one of the alloys thanks to an unavoidable pothole. The wheels are due a refurb anyway so I’m not as cross as I might be, but I think I’ll take an alternative route next time!

As a result of this unexpected winter usage, the anticipated service and health check has been pushed back but as you read these words the car will have been into RPM Technik for some care and attention. It’s not actually due a service yet according to the servicing schedule, but since I’ve owned the car it’s done three trackdays and a fair few miles and much like Jack I believe in over-servicing cars like these, particularly given the Turbo’s reputation for causing eye-watering bills.

On that subject, I recently looked back at a series of tweets I made when I began looking for a Porsche this time last year. A number of people had suggested the 996 Turbo as an alternative to my then-preferred choice of the 997 Carrera S, and judging by my replies the major concern for me at the time was the potential cost of repairs on the Turbo. When I finally started considering the Turbo, I was careful to check that the principal consumables – radiators, condensers, discs, pads and tyres – had all been recently replaced. I also set aside a ‘war chest’ fund to cover any unexpected maintenance, which fortunately I’ve not had to use. In fact, I’ve only had to shell out for a new battery and fuel during my ownership thus far. I’m hopeful that the trip to RPM won’t unearth any nasty surprises, but I am expecting a number of small issues to crop up.

I’ve usually had at least one member of the family in the car with me in my recent drives in the Turbo, but last weekend I had a precious couple of hours free to take the car out on my own, just for fun. It was one of those magical occasions where the roads are quiet and dry, and I emptied a tank of fuel all too quickly enjoying my local roads.

As I stood on my local Shell forecourt filling up again before heading home, a number of things stood out for me. Firstly, I’m learning to trust the messages that come through the steering wheel and becoming more confident in the grip the car generates through the corners. Secondly, the engine feels like it could rev higher than it does; on full boost in second gear, the redline rushes up so quickly that it’s very easy to clip the limiter.  Which brings me to my final thought – could it use a little more power?  It’s a dangerous (not to mention expensive) road to start down, but the idea has wormed its way into my head…

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