The Porsche 996 is the internal designation for the Porsche 911 model manufactured with first model year 1998 and last 2004. It was replaced by the Type 997 in model year 2005.
The 996 had little in common with its predecessor, with the first new chassis platform since the original 911 and a new water-cooled engine. Technically, it was a major change, a complete breakaway from the original car other than overall layout.
Development was shared with its smaller brother, the roadster-only Boxster which appeared around the same time, including the front suspension, much of the interior, and the engine, all of which were enlarged for the 996. However the multi-link rear suspension, derived from the preceding 993, was different.
At its debut, the 996 featured the most significant change from the classic 911 series: a water-cooled engine replacing the previously air-cooled engine (a change that Porsche's parent, Volkswagen, would also make when it introduced the New Beetle a year later, in 1998). Progressively stringent emissions and noise regulations, environmental concerns, a higher expectation for refinement and a high-performance 4 valve per cylinder engine made the switch necessary. Other major changes include a completely new platform having a sleeker body with a more raked windshield, and re-designed interior.
The Porsche 996 was a new design by Pinky Lai; the first new 911 that was completely redesigned, and carried over little from its predecessor. All new body work, interior, and the first water-cooled engine in a 911. The 996 replaced the 993 from which only the front suspension, rear multi-link suspension, and 6 speed gearbox were retained in revised form.
The first 996s were available as a coupé or cabriolet (Convertible) initially with rear wheel, or later, with four-wheel drive, and a 3.4 litre flat-6 naturally aspirated engine producing 296 bhp (224 kW). The cars had the same front end as the Boxster and Carrera owners complained long and loud about the "lower priced car that looked just like theirs did", hence the headlight change for the Carrera in 2002. The design for these headlamps could be traced back to the Porsche Panamericana concept car.
In 2000, Porsche introduced the 996 Turbo, equipped with four-wheel-drive and a 3.6 litre, twin turbocharged and intercooled flat-six producing 420 bhp (309 kW), making the car capable of 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.2 seconds. An X50 option which included larger turbochargers and intercoolers along with revised engine control software became available from the factory in 2002, increasing power to 450 hp (336 kW). (Porsche produced a Turbo S in 2005, which also had the x50 option with 450 bhp, with the formerly optional Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) composite ceramic brakes (PCCB) as standard.)
In 2001, horsepower on the base Carrera model was increased by 4 bhp to 300 bhp. 2001 also marked the final year of production for the base Carrera 4 Coupe in narrow body format.
In 2002, the standard models underwent minor re-styling, which included switching to the Turbo-style headlamps and to a new front fascia. These were sometimes known as the Mk2 generation of the 996, or the 996.2. In addition, engine capacity was also increased to 3.6 litres across the range, yielding gains of 15 horsepower for the naturally aspirated models. 2002 also marked the start of the production of the 996 based Targa, with a sliding glass "green house" roof system like its Type 993 predecessor. Also in 2002, Carrera 4S model was first introduced. The C4S as it is commonly called, shares the wide-body look of the Turbo as well as the brakes and suspension.
The 996 Turbo debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1999. It went on sale in the US in summer of 2000 as a 2001 model. The turbo was powered by a water-cooled twin turbocharged/intercooled 3.6L H-6 derived from the 1998 LeMans winning GT-1 car. The engine produced 415 hp at 6000 rpm and 415 lb·ft (563 N·m) of torque. The 996 turbo featured all-wheel drive and was available with either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission. The turbo had revised styling and a wider stance than the naturally aspirated 996 Carreras along with new bi-xenon headlamps. The turbo also came with VarioCam Plus as well as stability management. In the US, the rear spoiler would automatically rise at 76 mph (122 km/h) and lower at 36 mph (58 km/h). The turbo had revised bodywork to allow airflow to 3 radiators up front and to accommodate 18-inch wheels and tires.
In 2002, the turbo offered an X50 option would include larger turbochargers (K24 turbos) and intercoolers, a revised ECU and exhaust which raised output to 450 hp. Other features introduced in 2002, was a glove box, center mounted cup-holders, an optional Bose stereo and rain-sensing wipers.
In 2003, Porsche North America restated their horsepower numbers due to SAE changes. The turbo was still listed at 415 hp however the X50 option was now listed at 444 hp.
In 2004, the Turbo cabriolet debuted which was the first 911 Turbo Cabriolet since 1989.
In 2005, Porsche debuted the Turbo S model available as either a coupé or a cabriolet. The Turbo S was essentially a 996 turbo with the X50 option but also included PCCB, 6-disc CD changer and aluminum-faced instruments.
The 996 platform was used as the basis for two lightweight GT variants called GT2 and GT3. The GT3 was based on the standard 996 Carrera, but was stripped of a great deal of equipment for weight savings, featured stiffer, adjustable suspension and upgraded brakes, and used the bodyshell of the four-wheel-drive version, which incorporated additional front-end stiffening. It was produced in two versions. The first, commonly referred to as the Mk.I GT3, was released in 1999 in all markets, save North America. It featured a naturally aspirated version 3.6L flat six making 360 bhp (270 kW). This engine was shared with the 996 Turbo and was a derivative of the Le Mans winning engine developed for the 911 GT1. The Mk.II GT3 variant was based on the second generation of the 996, and featured updated aerodynamics, and a more powerful version of the 3.6L engine from the MK.I, now producing 380 bhp (280 kW). The Mk.II was the first GT3 marketed in the North America. In a 2004 testing of the Mk.II GT3, the car accelerated 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.0 seconds, and produced 1.03 g on the skidpad, the second highest number ever recorded by a street legal automobile.
The counterpart to the GT3, the GT2, was RWD as well, to save weight and to avoid power losses through the transmission. (This is primarily due to the fact that it was built to compete in GT2 class racing, which mandated RWD). It received an added group of aerodynamic body parts, and a re-tuned version of the 996 Turbo's 3.6 litre, twin turbocharged engine featuring larger turbochargers and intercoolers, revised intake and exhaust systems, and re-programmed engine control software. The result was 489 hp (365 kW) and 484 lb·ft (656 N·m) of torque respectively, enough to launch the car from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.9 seconds and to a top speed of 198 mph (319 km/h). Bigger wheels and tires along with lightweight ceramic brakes were standard. The GT2's fixed rear wing (made of CFRP for the post-2003 cars) appears to be a concession to racing rules that usually outlaw moving aerodynamic devices. It had no rear seat and no air conditioning. Both cars were available only with six-speed manual transmissions.
The Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models use the Aluminum crankcase of the air-cooled 911 with its true dry sump oiling system. The six separate individual Nikasil lined cylinders in this engine are covered with two separately installed water jackets each covering a bank of 3 cylinders on each side of the engine, thus adding water cooling to a crankcase originally designed for air-cooled cylinders (the normal 996 Carrera engine has the cylinders and water jackets cast together with the crankcase). This engine is very similar to that of the Le Mans winning Dauer Porsche 962 and Porsche GT1 racing cars' engines.
The 99 Model year featured a 3.4L engine producing 296 bhp. The 2000 and 2001 model years received a slight increase in horsepower to 300 bhp while retaining the same figures for torque produced. In addition, Porsche made many changes to the 3.4-liter unit over its production lifespan, so the last of these 3.4L engines (made in 2001) have improved reliability.
The 2002+ cars received a 3.6L engine which provided an extra 15 bhp (11 kW) of power (taking output to 315 bhp or 320 PS) and an additional 15 lb·ft (20 N·m) of torque (increasing from 258 to 273 lb·ft). The inclusion of Variocam Plus (as opposed to Variocam on the earlier 996) improved power delivery through the rpm range. The headlights on the 996 Carrera also adopted the turbo headlights of the MK1 iteration. Seat belt pretensioners were added. In 2000, the Tiptronic transmission was modified to allow it to enter manual mode by clicking buttons on the steering wheel.
Updates also included a revised front bumper to decrease front end lift, and the addition of a glove box. The second generation 996 gained 25 kg (55 lb) in the facelift.
In response to criticism that the Carrera had become too refined, in 2002 the C4S came with many options including lowered suspension and sports exhaust. It proved popular and set the pattern for the 997 Carrera S versions.
Porsche offered a special edition of the 996 for the year 2000. The company introduced the car as "The 911 for the Millennium" and based it on the Carrera 4 coupé. Only 911 were made. It featured all of the options that came with the turbo with electric and heated seats and telephone module. It came with polished turbo twist rims and GT3 skirting with some having the same aero as the GT3
This special edition was finished in Violet Chromaflair paint with natural leather interior and dark burr maple trim. Available with a Tiptronic or six-speed manual gearbox, the car was well equipped. A number plate on the center console and a unique "911" badge on the engine lid and lettering on the door sills make this special edition easy to identify.
Porsche celebrated the 911's 40-year history in 2003, using the slogan, "40 Jahre 911/40 Fast Years". The company also introduced the 996 "40th Anniversary Edition" for model year 2004. This model has the 996 Turbo's front-end, and was available only in Carrera GT Silver exterior paint. Other unique features included: X51 power kit, turbo radiators, limited slip differential, sport suspension, polished 5-spoke alloys (unique to this model), GT3 side skirts, natural gray leather interior (with luggage set to match), sports seats (there was a power comfort seat option), polished exhaust tips, heated seats (option in Latin America), litronic bi-xenon headlights, special dynamic sealed panels, and a special "40 Jahre 911" logo on the back. The power was increased from 316 to 345 hp (257 kW). Only 1,963 units were made, to commemorate 1963—the year the 911 was introduced.All specifications stated are for the MkII, EU spec 996's.
Integrated dry-sump is Porsche's name for a dry sump lubrication system integrated within the engine block, i.e. no separate oil reservoir.
Hollywood custom car builder Eddie Paul created a modified 996 Carrera as one of a set of three vehicles for Pixar's 2006 Cars promotional tour. Sally, a blue Porsche 996 designed to closely resemble a 2002 Carrera, is built on a slightly-shortened wheelbase; her windscreen is tilted closer to vertical (adding a few inches to the car's height) to accommodate the animated character's eyes.
In 2007, a motorist's 2001 Porsche 911 was searched during a traffic stop by Hoover, Alabama police. The police department seized the vehicle after they found 10 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside two compartments. Since then the vehicle was redecorated in two-tone police blue with a wing, light bar, and rear window lights. The vehicle was unveiled in 2009 as a Hoover Police Department police car and has appeared at various public events.