Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, October 2015

Porsche 911 Turbo

More thoughts on brake upgrades and on-track driver training in the Turbo this month.

Since the Turbo has returned from its lengthy stay at RPM, I’ve been taking every opportunity to drive it, even just to the shops and back or to drop my son at nursery. After two months of driving around in a diesel Range Rover while I waited for the car to be repaired, the Turbo feels ballistically fast and incredibly connected to the road, and I’m enjoying every second behind the wheel.

This everyday ability has always been one of the Turbo’s strong points but there are limits to its practicality, as I discovered after driving it to my local DIY store. Having become accustomed to the massive boot space in the Range Rover, I somehow forgot that I was in the Porsche and bought a number of very large and very heavy items, plus an abnormally long length of wood. My mistake only dawned on me when I got to the carpark and remembered I was driving a low-slung sports car and not a 2.7-ton SUV. I did manage to cram everything inside the car – just – but suffice to say I won’t be using it for my next visit to Ikea!

Now that the car is back and in fine fettle I’ve taken the opportunity to book a couple of final trackdays for this year. The first event is early November and though I could be considered a reasonably seasoned trackday-goer, I’m as excited as a five-year-old at Christmas because this trackday is on the Silverstone GP circuit. I’ve never driven the full circuit before, and it’s a great opportunity to really give the Turbo its head down the Hangar Straight and test my mettle through Copse and Maggots-Becketts.

Perhaps more importantly, I’ve booked a solid morning of tuiton for the Silverstone trackday. After being comprehensively out-driven on the sweeping roads of north-west Scotland during a roadtrip earlier this year, I’ve been seeking out professional advice on how to improve my driving and get best out of the Turbo in a safe manner, and this seemed like a great opportunity to take my tuition a step further. The acres of tarmac run-off of the modern Silverstone layout may enrage the motor racing purists, but there’s no denying that they provide a useful safety net for drivers like me who are still learning and might get a little over-ambitious with their corner entry speed.

The high speeds and big stops of the Silverstone circuit will also be the perfect change to evaluate the newly-serviced brakes on the Turbo. As I mentioned in last months’ column, I opted have the brakes flushed with race-spec Performance Friction fluid but to keep the stock OEM pads. On the road, the system still has a slightly numb feel at the top of the pedal, though once you’re into the meat of the travel it seems like there’s a bit more feel under your foot. They also seem to need more heat in the discs and pads to perform properly than before, though as soon as you’ve hit the brakes hard a couple of times and got that heat into the system the braking performance increases dramatically.

I had a long conversation with Ollie from RPM on the subject of braking upgrades during their follow-up call after I picked the car up, and we even priced up a front brake upgrade to the 6-pot system from the 997 Turbo. It quickly became very expensive at Porsche official parts prices (£1600 for the calipers, plus another £500 for discs and £250 for pads, all excluding VAT and fitting), so his suggestion was to try and source a set of secondhand calipers which could be be bought and reconditioned for far less than the cost of new items from Porsche. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on eBay over the winter.

Finally, on the thorny subject of values, I think I’m going to need to update my insurance policy to increase the agreed value of the car. Prices of 996 Turbos are continuing to climb with some examples on the market at £40k and above. Whether they’re actually selling at those prices is another matter, but should the worst happen I want to make sure my policy is up to date.

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