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Reader test: Porsche 911 Turbo

2008-11-26 12:15


The real test of any car is to ultimately say, “Will I put my money where my mouth is and buy it with my own money?”
I did so with a Porsche 997 Turbo. And sold it a month later.

I had always been a big fan of the 996 and regarded the 997 to be an improved version, better looking with more considerations to luxury, functional technology, usability and, of course performance. In short, a perfect car to use on a daily basis as I enjoy having something a little special to come down to the garage to after a stressful day. Makes it all seem worth it.
Now the 997 Turbo is perfectly cut out to be a daily driver. It’s no bigger than, say, a BMW 3 Series, so it's easy to park. It has PDC too. 

In terms of toys and daily functional luxury… Well, to those unfamiliar with what is available on Porsche, some of the highlights are navigation (with SA maps), car phone, Bose sound system, climate control, electro chromatic side and rearview mirrors, tyre pressure readouts, a comprehensive on-board computer, electric memory seats, coming home headlights, the list goes on and on. There are no glaring omissions in terms of features and options, even if you come from the German trio.
Then there is the power, the handling, and the braking - all phenomenal.

With its safe and neutral four-wheel drive system, 353 kW and 620 Nm (680 on over-boost) may not be the most impressive figures out there these days, but its all "useable" power with handling to match. There's no wheel spin or wagging tail when putting the power down.

The clutch is not tricky or heavy and the handling and brakes are safe and linear.

I still maintain that, at the reef where the benefits of a turbo come into play and the advanced four-wheel drive system helps, it's probably the fastest stock car on sale. In straight lines and through twisties.

In terms of useable space, it's functional; a 2+2 configuration with a rear area is more suited to folding the seats down to get a flat surface and using them for storage. The boot is good enough for shopping or soft bags, given its awkward shape having a CD shuttle and DVD navigation player in it. 

Something's missing 

So where is the catch? Well, it just felt too clinical, too sorted and too predictable.

It’s functional to the point where only its performance abilities make it stand out and you can’t use those all the time in daily driving. It didn’t feel special in the way I wanted the car to feel. It had prestige and status for sure, but I didn’t buy the car for that. I wanted something for me to enjoy, like a fine suit or a really good bottle of wine, and the 997 Turbo just wasn’t it.
It’s replacement? An Aston Martin DB9. Hugely flawed (although Aston are introducing changes with every model year to improve this), less practical, less rock solid reliable, less toys apart from a beautiful Linn 950 Watt sound system which is the best I’ve heard… and I’ve never loved a car more.

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