Between the Porsche 996 vs 997, which is the better car? This is a question that many people have asked, and it’s hard to give a definitive answer. Both cars are amazing machines, but they offer different things to their drivers. Some people might prefer the more classic look of the 996, while others might like the newer design of the 997. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
While it does come down to personal preference, there are a few reasons why we prefer the 997 to the 996. Some of it has to do with aesthetics, while other reasons have to do with reliability and the improved IMS bearing.
This article is more of a personal preference and less of a definitive buyers guide. We will write a more in-depth 996 vs. 997 comparison and buyers guide in the near future that will be more objective and detailed than this article.
7 Reasons the Porsche 997 is Better Than the 996
The 996 was produced from 1997 until 2006. The 997 began phasing out the 996 in 2004, although the top-tier trims like the Turbo S, GT2, and GT3 remained under the 996 chassis through 2006.
Comparing the 996 to the 997 is slightly challenging due to the overlap. Additionally, Porsche 997’s used both the M96 and M97 engines. Various trims received the M97 in mid-2005 while the base model stuck with the M96 until 2008. This is an important aspect as there are some common weak points with the M96 like IMS bearings that were addressed and fixed in the M97.
1. The Porsche 997 looks better than the 996
The Porsche 996 is a controversial model in the 911 range. Some love it for its sleek design and powerful engine, while others find fault with its less than luxurious interior and unreliable engine. The 996 interiors fell short of Porsche’s usual high standards, as cost-cutting became the new buzzword.
The 997 was a return to the traditional 911 aesthetic, borrowing some styling cues from the 993. However, it was not as bulky and heavy as the more recent 991s. The interior was completely redesigned with luxury in mind. Even better, 997 interiors have lasted the test of time much better than those of the 996.
The engines in the 997 were also upgraded. Despite some revelations about the M97’s early days, it is not considered to be as unreliable as the M96. However, the DFI engines fitted to second-generation 997s are generally considered to be very reliable. It is important to remember that the 997 was crucial in saving Porsche’s legacy.
2. The 997 is the last remaining mechanical 911
The 997 was equipped with a wide range of electronic driving aids, including VTG, PASM, PTM, and PSM. However, the takeover of the ECU was only evident in succeeding 991s. The most important thing is that electric steering has been added to all 991s, as well as PDK-only transmission and rear axle steer in the new GT or Turbo models. This has greatly improved the image of the 997.
This being said, the 997 still has more of a raw driving feeling compared to the newer Porsche’s of today. However, the 996 is also mechanical and therefore offers a similar feel to the 997. The one difference here is that the 997 is a bit more refined and offers that traditional driving experience while also offering more luxury over the 996.
3. The 997 Mezger Engine is the pinnacle of performance
The GT3 RS 4.0L was released as the final hurrah of the 997 Era and it did not disappoint. This engine produces nearly 500 bhp and has a 3,996cc engine displacement (The RS 4.0 bores are larger). It is truly one of the most beautiful 911s ever made.
the 997 GT3 features the famous “Mezger” engine, which has been refined to offer even more power and performance. This engine is a legacy of Porsche’s racing heritage, and its inclusion in the 997 GT3 ensures that this car will be a force to be reckoned with on the track.
The Mezger engine is actually also included in the Turbo, GT2, and GT3 versions of the 996 in addition to the 997. However, the 997 Mezger engines received a new variable intake system, free flowing intake and exhaust ports, numerous intake cam adjustments, and an increased compression ratio. All of these contributed to more power and performance out of the 997 Mezger compared to the 996.
4. The 997 still offered exclusivity despite being mass-produced
There are more than 30 variants of the 997, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. However, don’t let this wide selection overwhelm you. Learning about the origins of some variants can help you make a more informed decision. The 911 is one of the most mass-produced cars on the market, but there are still some rare gems to be found. Keep an eye out for these special editions and you’re sure to find the perfect car for you.
The Porsche Turbo S 918 Edition was a limited edition car with only 918 units produced. The Speedster and Sport Classic were both part of the Exclusive group, with 356 and 250 units respectively.
If you want to get your hands on a truly rare 911, then you need to check out the GT2 RS or GT3 RS 4.0. These cars are even more exclusive than the 2.7RS, so you’ll definitely stand out from the crowd if you’re driving one of these bad boys around town.
5. The Porsche 997 is more reliable than the 996
The main reason that the 997 is more reliable is because it predominantly features the M97 engine. While some of the earlier models still use the M96, with the exception of 2004 models, all of these 911’s have the improved IMS bearing.
The M97 does have common problems that include cylinder scoring, cam solenoid failure, and some coolant system related issues. However, when maintained properly the M97 has proved to be a rather reliable engine.
On the other hand, the M96 suffers from not only IMS bearing failure, but also rear main seal oil leaks. Neither of these issues are cheap or friendly to deal with which has given the 996’s and the M96 engine a bad reputation for reliability. While both of these issues are preventable, it costs a few thousand bucks of preventative maintenance to fix these issues.
So while some 997’s do still have the bad-apple M96 engine, the 997 is still considered more reliable since there are a lot more 997’s with the M97 engine.
6) The 997 introduced The first VTG Turbo
The Variable Turbine Geometry feature in the first generation 997 Turbo provides the best of both small and large turbochargers. This is thanks to electrically-operated guide vanes in each turbo that help to achieve optimum gas-flow characteristics at all times.
This resulted in a significant reduction in turbo lag and an expanded range of peak torque. This gave the turbocharged 997 unrelenting, brutal performance throughout the rev range. It transformed the Turbo’s personality. Porsche still uses this technology on the 991 model.
7. The Porsche 997 reached 200mph
The GT2 RS has set a new standard for 911s, beating the 997 GT2 by 1mph three years after it reached a speed of 204mph. No other factory 911 has ever passed the double-ton mark. This is an incredible accomplishment that cements the 997 GT2 RS’s place as one of the greatest sports cars ever made.
While hitting 200+mph is commonplace for Porsche’s of today, this was a cause for celebration back in the day. Additionally, this is a testament to the performance improvements made to the 997 that ultimately make them faster, quicker, and in our opinion, better than the 996.
While there have been many different models and generations of the 911, the 997 generation achieved a perfect blend of modernity and performance which no other 911 series has ever been able to do.
The 997 is newer and received a significant engine upgrade which improved both performance and reliability. Of course, newer cars are faster and offer more modern luxuries, so this might not be a fair reason to explain why the 997 is better. While the 996 offers a rugged and more true or traditional driving experience, the 997 also offers a similar feel while being more luxurious and faster.
Now, should you buy a 997 Carrera or a 996 Carrera? That’s a more challenging subject that is more so budget dependent. For a more in-depth look into the differences between the 997 and the 996 and which is better to purchase, check out our 996 vs 997 buyers guide.
Thanks for the interesting article comparing the Porsche 996 vs Porsche 997 versions of classic 911.