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Porsche 993 Carrera RS road test

“You must push it,” says this 993 Carrera RS Clubsport’s owner, Omar. That’s fine for him to say, but the paradox of driving cars like this is exactly that – driving them.

Just 227 993 Carrera RS Clubsports were ever built. I’m sat in one now, a genuine 993 Carrera RS with the under-bonnet sticker containing the essential 003 code. That signifies Group N GT1 Carrera RS, simply ‘Clubsport’ or, in some markets, ‘RSR’.

My surroundings confirm that: the interior is devoid of anything other than the bare necessities, which means three pedals, a gearstick and a steering wheel. It feels pure race car, because that’s what it is.

A little bit more deciphering of those codes reveals that when ordered it came with a 197 88Ah battery, 459 strut brace, 471 Carrera RS Sports spoilers, 564 no airbag, 567 graduated tint windscreen, 573 air conditioning, 657 power steering and 990 cloth seats.

All came with most of these, the air conditioning optionally (and sensibly) added, as has a powered passenger window, the switch for it located in front of the gear lever in the middle, usually a blanked-off switch position in these. As a C11 model it was originally supplied to Austria, is left-hand-drive and finished in L39E Riviera blue, that bold colour covering every bit of the RS’s beautifully exposed bodywork. 

There’s plenty of it: the rear-view mirror, sat beside a sole sun visor, is filled with the stunning hue, the criss-crossing cage that fills the rear and braces down the door apertures as well as the entire rear area being covered in the bright finish.

There’s no carpet anywhere, save for a couple of mats in the front footwells. The lightweight, fixed seatbacks weren’t a stranger to the spray gun either, the lack of anything even as ‘luxurious’ as headlining means the colour is on the roof above, too.

You’d have to have been intent on really using the Clubsport as intended to pay the additional £5,250 it added to the regular RS’s £62,250 sticker price and, really, like the colour you picked, because there’s no escaping it when you get inside. 

For that additional outlay you lost equipment, the Clubsport binning the RS’s luxuries, such as they were, for an even more purposeful specification. It existed as a means to homologate the Carrera for the BPR GT3 and GT4 categories and is based on the Carrera Cup car, as well as giving more track-focused customers an even more focused machine.

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996 40th anniversary: coming of age

Forty: one of the big ones, passing into the fourth decade tends to be a significant generational marker. To celebrate or commiserate, though? Porsche obviously decided to do the former – after all, producing a sports car for 40 years is an undeniably notable achievement.

It was a while ago now, too. It’s incredible to think that with the 992 we’ll see the 911 tick over to 60. That’s in just four years time, so it’s been nearly two whole decades since this Anniversary model was introduced.

Back then the 911 was the 996. Old enough to be in its second generation, Porsche’s awkward transitional 911 benefitting from the revised headlights that were introduced with the Turbo. As we all know, the 996 brought water-cooling to the 911, it igniting a debate that still resonates to this day, the 996 arguably the most divisive 911 in our favourite sports car’s now 56 years. Time heals, or at least softens resolve, and the 996 has found favour in its advancing years, the Turbo, GT3, GT3 RS and 4S all generating justifiable praise.

The Anniversary should be included among them as, unlike Porsche’s ill-considered Millennium Edition of 2000, the ‘40 Jahre’ car’s specification verges on perfection. Visually it is a demonstration of dignified restraint, perhaps with the exception of the shot-blasted and polished 18-inch Carrera II lightweight wheels. With the finish of those wheels prone to damage, many Anniversary cars have had their alloys refurbished with a more conventional painted finish. That might rob them of their originality, but does arguably improve the looks.

Elsewhere the Anniversary follows a proven Porsche formula that defines a special model. It does so without dropping any weight; as any 40-year old will testify, shifting bulk is tricky. The 996 is fairly light as standard though: the Anniversary’s kerb weight of 1,370kg matches that of the standard Gen2 Carrera. Instead of losing mass, Porsche focused on other facets to improve the offering with the Anniversary, particularly relating to how it drives.

Key to the Anniversary’s spec is the addition of an X51 Powerkit. It’s an option that would have added around £9,000 to a standard Carrera should you have asked for it back in the early 2000s. The X51 sees the power rise to 345bhp. Admittedly it’s not a significant gain over the 320bhp Carrera, but writing off the X51’s revisions on the modest bhp gain alone is to do the not-insubstantial revisions it brings a serious disservice.

The Powerkit adds cast-aluminium intake manifolds with a modified cross section, the exhaust ducts too benefiting by being larger in their width and being flow optimised thanks to machining and polishing. The valvetrain differs too: the valves and their springs, caps, guides and seats are changed over the standard car, allowing increased movement to benefit the X51 camshaft’s greater inlet valve stroke and modified inlet and exhaust timing.

The lubrication system is improved with a different dual-chamber suction pump for cylinder bank four to six, new oil lines and the oil pan coming with bulkhead baffles to help prevent high g-force oil surge. The changes via the X51 are anecdotally said to improve the durability of the 3.6-litre flat six because it counters the under-lubrication of cylinder six, with the benefit of helping prevent overheating and premature wear.

Controlling all that is a modified engine map which, like all the X51 Powerkit’s development, was apparently the work of the Motorsport department. That arguably makes X51-equipped cars ‘under-the-counter’ GT machines, and worth seeking out.

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1974 2.7 911: the new standard

The year 1974 represented great change for Porsche. After a decade of constant fettling of its 911, where it witnessed increases in wheelbase, model designations, engine capacity and specification options, Zuffenhausen decided to ring the changes in what was the first major refresh of the car’s now famous history.

Most notably from the outset, those slender lines associated with Butzi’s initial 911 design were altered by Tony Lapine and his team, the addition of impact bumpers at both the front and rear of the car a regulatory necessity rather than a creative endeavour. The 911 needed to adopt impact bumpers to satisfy US crash-safety regulations, and though their presence unquestionably disrupted the flow of the 911’s appearance, it truly was a case of adapt or die. The latter was out the question, as it had by now gained an envious reputation as a robust sports car capable of outgunning its bigger motorsporting rivals.

The engine too was updated, the entire line-up ditching the 2.4-litre engine capacity of the F-series cars in favour of the 2.7-litre capacity used by the 1973 Carrera RS. Black window trim was retained from that first 911 Rennsport for the top-spec cars, with door handles and mirrors also now finished in black instead of chrome. There were minor upgrades to the interior too, including the incorporation of headrests into a one-piece seat for the first time.

Aside from changing the body and engine, Porsche also took the opportunity to revamp its entire 911 model line-up. Three cars would remain – until, of course, the Turbo arrived a year later in 1975 – but the top-spec 911S of the F-series replaced the doomed 911E as the middle offering, while the 911 Carrera became the new jewel of Porsche’s showroom. At the other end the T was scrapped entirely, the entry-level car now simply referred to as the base 911 for this new chapter of Neunelfer.

However, while the pre-impact bumper 911T is a fairly sought-after classic today for the purity of its lines, its successor in the 2.7 911 isn’t generally looked at with a similar fondness. At face value this is understandable. The base 2.7 car may be more powerful than the 911T by 25bhp in US-spec, but it’s heavier by around 50kg too, largely cancelling out any straight-line performance advantage, and the G-series cars just don’t possess the purity in appearance of the early, pre-impact bumper models. However, there are fewer 2.7 911s on the planet than 911Ts, with a quoted 9,320 2.7s built in both Coupe and Targa body styles over the 1974 and 1975 model years, while the 911T was produced 16,933 times between 1972 and 1973.

Despite this, the base 2.7 has largely been forgotten in the classic marketplace, it considered less desirable than the T before it or indeed the cars succeeding it, such as the heavier SC or 3.2 Carrera. It’s not like 1974 is an unpopular year of production either: the top-of-the-range 2.7 Carrera is revered as a genuine collector’s car for its credentials as a ‘secret RS’, the 3.0-litre RSs of the same model year generally considered to be a superior car to the halo 2.7 RS. It’s fair to say though the mid-spec 911S has suffered a similar fate to the base 911 in being largely forgotten. Has an injustice been served?

 

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Rare Porsche 911 Cabriolets

Porsche isn’t one to miss a good marketing opportunity. Throughout the 54 years of 911 production, in which over a million examples of this iconic sports car have rolled out of Zuffenhausen, the company has bestowed worldwide customers with a whole host of special editions to celebrate anniversaries, milestones and notable racing achievements.

The latest addition is Motorsport’s new 935, a track-only car based mechanically on the 991 GT2 RS but styled on the revered Moby Dick of 1978. More interestingly though, there’s also a new Speedster. However, the fact it’s being built to commemorate 70 years of Porsche isn’t particularly significant, and neither is the numbered production run of just 1,948 examples. No, it’s a special-edition, open-topped Porsche.

Think about it, most special-edition Porsche 911s are Coupes. From the 930 S to the 991 Turbo S Exclusive Edition, via the 993 GT2, 996 Anniversary and 997 Sport Classic, these limited cars, often built on a numbered production run, are tin-top. There appears no specific reason for this: all body styles hail from the same production line at Werk II, and it’s not like an open-topped 911 is unpopular – in fact, widespread endearment to both the Cabriolet and Targa is such that Porsche has kept both models running concurrently since 1983. And while it’s true 911 Coupes will always enjoy a certain cache over their open-topped stablemates, what’s not to like about a special-edition Cabriolet?

To find out we’ve come to Long Beach in southern California to sample two stellar open-topped examples of rare Porsche in the 3.2 Commemorative Cabriolet and 964 America Roadster. Owned by serial Porsche owner and Total 911 subscriber Bruce Brown, these cars are used as they were intended, cruising the boulevards and carving through the inland canyons, roof down, revelling under the year-round Californian sunshine.

The cars arrive at the beach just after us, pulling off the highway and driving onto a slipway down to the Pacific Ocean, the 964’s almost V8-like thrum a striking note against the 3.2 Carrera’s more agricultural resonance. Bruce, in the 3.2, and his friend Simon Birch, piloting the 964, kill the cars and jump out, which gives us a chance to absorb both 911s as they cool off in the brisk sea wind.

First, the Commemorative 3.2. Built to honour 250,000 911s having been built, it’s sometimes referred to as the 25th Anniversary – this at a time before Porsche thought of the 30, 40 and 50 Jahre Anniversary models in the ensuing years. The 3.2 Commemorative Edition was available in either Coupe, Cabriolet or Targa body styles.

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New 2019 Porsche 992 revealed: all you need to know

We’ve ridden shotgun in the prototypes, but Total 911 is attending the unveil of the new Porsche 992 series 911 in LA, prior to it reaching showrooms early next year. That it’s visually similar to the 991 before it is no surprise, Porsche’s evolutionary approach to its styling no more obvious than with the 911, but this eighth-generation model brings the company’s iconic sports car up to date, adding connectivity, driver assistance and improved environmental performance all while retaining its driver focus.

ENGINE & PERFORMANCE STATS

Retaining the 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six of the 991.2, the 992 is launched in Carrera S guise, it developing 450hp, which represents an increase of 30hp over the outgoing Carrera S. In rear-wheel drive PDK form that allows a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds, or 3.5 seconds if the optional Sport Chrono pack is fitted. The Carrera 4S reduces that by 0.1 seconds thanks to its traction advantage, the top speed for the Carrera S being 191mph and the 4S 190mph. That’s 0.4 seconds faster than the equivalent outgoing 991.2 model, the 992 boasting performance in the realms of the 997 Turbo.

The consumption and emissions figures quoted for the 992 look less impressive, with Porsche quoting 31.7/31.4mpg and 205g/km/209g/km for the Carrera S/4S respectively. These figures are based on the new, stricter, WLTP testing procedure which give a a greater real-world result, so customers should expect consumption equivalent to the outgoing models, even if the numbers don’t suggest it.

AESTHETICS

Externally the 992’s most obvious visual cue is the new rear light bar, this LED strip spanning the entire width of the rear. All Carreras, from the launch S models, to the standard Carreras that will follow next year will be wide-bodied, with all being as wide as the current GTS/GT3 models. The width at the front axle grows by 45mm, too, the steered wheels being fitted with 20-inch alloys, the rear being staggered with a 21-inch rim.

That widebody is almost entirely constructed from aluminium in a bid to save weight, the 992 set to weigh much the same as the car it replaces. That’s despite the addition of some additional new tech, the 911 embracing driver assistance with the addition of lane keeping assist and lane departure warning equipment, brake assist with emergency braking as well as the availability of Night Vision Assist with a thermal camera. Should you option that, the images will be displayed on one of the screens situated either side of the large analogue rev-counter that sits prominently in front of the driver in the instruments. Convenience in traffic will be added with the option of an adaptive cruise control system with automatic distance control and stop-and-go function.

INTERIOR

The interior is a marked step from the 991, the centre dash dominated by a 10.9 inch touchscreen, it giving access to familiar entertainment and navigation functions as well as displaying the driving modes. To the usual Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual Modes Porsche has added Wet Mode, this selectable mode automatically prepping the PDK shift strategy, traction and stability systems and throttle map when wheel housing sensors detect wet tarmac.

The connectivity of the interior systems is improved, with swarm online data assisting with navigation, and apps including Porsche Road Trip for route planning and Porsche Impact being an emissions estimator that allows you to estimate financial contributions to offset your emissions with your favoured internationally certified climate project.

Engine revisions to help reduce that impact include revised turbochargers and new intercooling with shorter, more efficient paths, as well as an improved direct injection process. The addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission (a seven-speed manual will follow) derived from the Panamera also underlines Porsche’s future climate credentials as it allows the company to add a hybrid electric motor into the transmission at a later, as yet to be confirmed, date.

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