Porsche enthusiasts are a very unique group of people. These people are so passionate about the brand that it often leads to bitter conflicts among them. But, one consensus that they all seem to agree on was that the 997 was a pretty good 911. The water cooled fans generally agree that it provided the perfect combination of luxury and driver engagement and air cooled purists seem to agree that it was the best that a water cooled Porsche could offer. Unlike with air cooled 911s, the market seems to be rather less sympathetic towards the 997 since one could easily pick up a Carrera model for anywhere from $25,000-$60,000; which is well within the reach of the average sports car enthusiast. That brings us to this, 997.1 911 Carrera which shows that although the 997 is getting old, it still remains to be the best 911 for the price.
In my opinion, the 997.2 generation is the most beautiful 911 ever made. The size, the curves, the lines, everything is just perfect. And although the 997.1 is not as beautiful as its successor, it’s not a bad looking car. It’s got the classic 911 silhouette, it’s not too big, it doesn’t have the much disliked fried egg headlights of the 996, there’s really no bad angle for the car. The 997.1 also looks relatively modern considering it’s almost 15 years old.
Looks wise, the interior is what stands out on the 997.1. It’s simple, elegant, and driver focused. The seats are in the right place, the center console isn’t cluttered with unnecessary bluetooth and wireless calling options. It’s a sports car and the interior reflects it. The 997.1 is also a Porsche keep in mind so everything short of the volume and tuner dials for the radio are built with the utmost quality. There’s lots of nice leather, there’s no scratchy plastic like in the 996, it’s a very nice place to be.
In general, Porsches are very well built cars, especially the newer ones. Sadly though, the 996 generation that preceded the 997 was not one of these newer ones. Of all the things wrong with that car, the most notable was the reliability of the M96 engine that powered it. For those that don’t know, the M96 was notorious for its IMS and RMS failures, it was by far one of the worst engines Porsche had ever built. And that M96 engine was unfortunately carried over to the 997 Carrera, Carrera 4, and Targa 4. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel since the M96s fitted to later 997.1 models, like the 2007 Carrera we tested, had been cleared of most of these problems. The Carrera we tested had almost 50,000 miles on it and ZERO mechanical problems. The car ran like a clock and showed no signs of stopping anytime soon. Honestly though, as long as you treat the engine well i.e. change the oil frequently, let it warm up before pushing it, etc. you should be fine.
How it Drives
As of this writing, it’s been almost a year since RS Report was started. In that year, I’ve had the honor of being able to review so many amazing cars so trust me when I say that the 997.1 Carrera that we reviewed is the Goldilocks of performance cars. The steering feel is light enough to make quick maneuvers yet heavy enough to feel the road. With the sport chrono package (which is a must), the throttle response in “Sport Mode” is perfect for shredding through a canyon, and perfect for everyday driving in comfort mode. Everything in this car seems to be just right. But don’t let this commentary fool you into thinking that the 997.1 Carrera is a slow car, by any means.
The “base” model that we tested made 337 hp (325 hp stock) and 273 lb/ft of torque while weighing in at just 3,075 lbs. This power to weight ratio can still compete with the 991 Carrera, BMW M4, and all the new sports cars of today. This is a fast car, plain and simple. This low weight makes cornering a breeze, the car is very quick on its feet in the canyons and stable on the straightaways.
The 6 speed manual in our car was amazing as well. The clutch was perfect for fast upshifts and the engine revved so perfectly for the downshifts. The shifter is so perfect and precise, it’s like operating a rifle bolt.
And the sound, oh that beautiful sound. Each section of the rev range is accompanied by it’s own symphony. From 1,000-3,000 rpm you get the angry base tone of an old RSR racecar. From 3,000-5,500 rpm the angry base crescendos into a violent roar and right at 5,500 rpm, you get this beautiful resonance that marks the transition to that signature Porsche howl all the way to redline. Finally, you shift gears and get the encore you’ve been waiting for all the way to this car’s 177 mph top speed.
The 997.1 911 is easily the best sports car under $60,000. Also keep in mind that our review was conducted in a non S Carrera without PASM or carbon ceramic brakes. Just imagine what those would add. Driving this car was an experience, the dazzling looks, the eviscerating sound, the smell of the leather, it all combined to make the ultimate driving experience. The 997 911 is without a doubt, the BEST sports car under $60,000.
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