The legendary Porsche 911 Turbo had always been devastatingly fast, going right back to the 1975 original. But you could argue that it didn’t become a true supercar until the 997 Turbo arrived in 2006 and rewrote the rules for what a supercar could be.
Is it still as good as was when it first came out, or is it starting to feel like a relic? Only Motors drove a very lovely 2008 example on sale at Uber GT to find out.
A lot of critics bang on about how the styling of the 911 changes from one generation to the next and they have a point. But hardly anyone ever mentions the fact that is has always been a rather pretty car and the 997 is no different. The Turbo’s body is pumped up and punctured with many vents, but they don’t detract from the underlying purity of the shape. I know, I’m waffling.
The interior isn’t so good, with a vertical dashboard and lip service paid to ergonomics. This example’s all-black trim doesn’t do much to lift the ambiance, either.
Lets start with some numbers. The 911 Turbo’s 3.6-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine produces 473bhp and 502lb/ft of torque. Hooked up to a (joy of joys!) six-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel-drive, it will fire from 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds and top out at 193mph.
Those are deeply impressive numbers, but what they don’t convey is just how accessible all that power and speed feels. The engine is incredibly flexible and serves up enormous punch in any gear at any revs with barely a hint of turbo lag. This is a car that can get you into very big trouble, very easily.
Ride & Handling
It’s testament to how good the 997 Turbo’s chassis and 4WD are that it feels like it can take a lot more power than it has. It feels utterly secure on the road whatever the surface or weather. While the ride is firm, the suspension smooths over the road, never getting jostled off line. And the fabulously communicative steering gives a detailed account of what’s going on under the wheels.
Older 911’s left a bit to be desired as a grand tourer, but the 997 generation had that trick down. Ease it into sixth-gear and it lopes along at a cruise, quiet and comfortable. It’s good around town too, helped by its surprisingly small size and excellent visibility. Where a Ferrari might be a bit of a chore to use every day, this would be a pleasure.
Space & Practicality
You can get two very small children in the 911’s back seats, but it’s best to think of them as an extra boot to go with the smallish one under the bonnet. Then there’s actually quite a lot of space.
This 911 Turbo is hardly luxuriously equipped, but there’s satnav, climate control, leather and a sunroof. Which is more than you really need anyway. Most of the options list was dedicated to things that make it go faster.
At the time, the 997 Turbo’s closest rival in terms of price and performance was the Nissan GT-R. And so it continues to be. A decent early 997 Turbo will cost around £40,000 and there are loads of GT-R’s about for the same money. What was true then is true now; the Nissan is ultimately faster, but the Porsche would be easier to live with and more rewarding to own.
The Porsche 997 Turbo set new standards for a truly usable supercar when it first came out. Even today, there isn’t much out there that can touch it.