Having been among the most consistent advocates of turbocharging since the early seventies, it came as no surprise when a forced induction Porsche 996 arrived in late 99. Announced in September and launched during October’s Frankfurt Motor Show, this turbocharged 996 featured twin blowers and full-time four-wheel drive, much like its 993 predecessor. Based on the Carrera 4 frame, the Turbo featured a number of important changes over those normally aspirated 911’s, riding some 10mm lower and on mildly re-rated springs and dampers. Thicker anti-roll bars were fitted front and rear whilst the track got widened by 40mm at the back and new eighteen-inch alloy wheels came as standard.
However, unarguably the 996 Turbo’s most innovative feature came via the options list, Porsche offering ceramic composite brake discs and rightfully taking the plaudits for being the first manufacturer to incorporate these hugely effective items onto a road car. Meanwhile, as on the Carrera 4, Porsche’s sublime PSM came as standard. Engine-wise, Porsche began with the GT1-derived 3.6-litre powerplant from their GT3, the German engineers unarguably creating one of the finest turbocharged engines of all time by producing a motor whose characteristics were not too dissimilar to that of a large capacity normally aspirated powerplant.
With 420bhp on tap at 6000rpm and custom mapped Bosch Motronic ME 7.8 engine management, these dry sumped twin turbocharged 996 posted what were the fastest performance figures of any series production 911, its top speed of 190mph and zero to sixty sprint time of just 4.2 seconds putting it firmly in the territory of Europe’s most lavishly engineered supercars. A six-speed gearbox was derived from the 993 Turbo, the 996 also coming with the option of a re-engineered dual configuration Tiptronic S gearbox (for what was the first time on a turbocharged Porsche). Offering drivers the choice of either a fully automatic five-speed or sequential shifting via steering wheel mounted switches, Tiptronic S was a no cost option. Visually, the Turbo featured a number of aesthetic tweaks to the bodywork over what was the concurrent 3.4-litre engined 996, the most obvious being those re-shaped light clusters and gaping air intakes carved out from the nose. They fed cool air through to the brakes, that large central intake to a front-mounted radiator whilst there were also a pair of ugly intercooler vents ahead of the rear wheelarches.
A matt black wraparound chin spoiler completed the Turbo’s distinctively re-profiled nose and there were a number of other changes made at the back. Indeed, a heavily ventilated skirt maximized engine cooling while, mounted on the engine lid, an electronically adjustable bi-plane rear wing that was unique to this version further extended into the airflow at speeds of above 70mph. Inside, the cabin was much the same as a Carrera 4, only a few minor detail alterations being made to the instrumentation, a more comprehensive trip computer also being fitted. Deliveries began during May 2000, only a Coupe initially being offered. Just days after unveiling their new GT3 RS road car, Porsche provided a glimpse of the Turbo Cabriolet.