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Opinion: Is the new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR really a 911?

“Surely that’s a Cayman, not a 911?” remarked one commenter on Total 911’s Facebook page last week when we reported on the official launch of the 2017 Porsche 911 RSR, Weissach’s radical new mid-engined racer.

As we all know, the Porsche 911 has always had its engine mounted aft of the rear wheels. From the early 2.0-litre cars right through to the latest 991 generation, the drivetrain layout has been one constant in the Neunelfer’s never-ending evolution.

The new GTE class contender completely breaks with that tradition, mounting the engine closer to the centre of the car, with the six-speed sequential gearbox now bolted behind the powerplant via a new magnesium casing.


It still looks like a 911, and it still sounds like a 911. But is it really a 911?

I’ll admit that the general design sounds a lot like the mid-engined Cayman however, does that mean that the car designed to return the FIA WEC GT crown back to Weissach isn’t really a Porsche 911? Well, no.

Over the years, Porsche has always pushed the regulations’ boundaries in its various racing exploits, often using the 911 as its platform of choice. This has meant that many of the 911’s defining features have been tampered with in exchange for faster lap times.

For many, the idiosyncratic upright front wings are a 911 signature however, the Porsche 935 famously did away with them in pursuit of better aerodynamics. The ‘flachbau’ front end may have upset purists but there was no doubting that the 935 was a 911 at heart.

The Porsche 935 was a genuine 911 (under the skin) but it didn't look anything like the road cars.

The Porsche 935 was a genuine 911 (under the skin) but it didn’t look anything like the road cars.

Likewise, the 911 GT1 project – running from 1996 to 1998 – saw wholesale changes made to the Neunelfer’s chassis, lengthening it considerably and mounting the engine in the middle (sounds familiar) to provide a better weight balance.

Okay, we’ll admit that the Le Mans-winning GT1-98 (with its carbon fibre monocoque construction) was only a 911 in name but, the earlier versions shared some of their front-end design with the 993 road car.

More recently, the first generation 991 RSR – launched in 2013 – made the switch to double wishbone front suspension, replacing the MacPherson strut design that is used in the road cars (and has been since the 911’s inception in 1963).

The GT1 was the last Porsche 911 to feature the engine mounted amidships with the gearbox behind.

The GT1 was the last Porsche 911 to feature the engine mounted amidships with the gearbox behind.

Porsche 911s built by the factory to race in the toughest international arenas have, therefore, traditionally broken with tradition in pursuit of greater performance.

The new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR (for all the fuss its new engine layout has created) still shares its body shell with the current generation of road cars meaning that, unlike the GT1s of two decades ago, it still looks, unmistakeably, like a 911, and it’s still powered by a naturally aspirated flat six.

Rather than questioning whether this is really a Cayman, we should be celebrating that Porsche has decided to stick with the 911 as its RSR platform of choice because it shows that the board back in Zuffenhausen still understands how important the Neunelfer is to Porsche (both the company and the brand).

Do you agree with Josh? Is the new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR still a genuine 911? Join the debate in the comments below, or head to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.

The new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR's cockpit is an unfamiliar environment for most 911 drivers.

The new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR’s cockpit is an unfamiliar environment for most 911 drivers.


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Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: 4000 miles, one engine scare

A lot has happened since my last diary entry, where I reflected on my first six months of Porsche 911 ownership. My 996.2 Carrera 4 and I have visited six countries (more on that very soon), amassing over 4,000 miles in the process, and by and large the Porsche has been faultless – except for one potentially catastrophic incident.

Driving back south from a meeting one afternoon, my dashboard illuminated with the sort of warning sign that could elicit instant heart failure for a discerning 996 owner. I’m pretty sure that for a second on the M27 motorway that day, I came close to such a fate.

The electronic display showed a picture of an oil can followed by the dreaded words ‘failure indicator’. Bollocks. Blood pumping fast, I switched the radio off and listened intently for any foreign noises emanating from the back of the car, but could only hear the conventional thrum of an M96 engine chugging car and driver along at motorway cruising speed.


Bravely (or naively, I’ll let you decide), I drove gingerly back to base, the radio remaining muted while my ears pressed to pick up unusual sounds and my eyes scanned the road ahead as well as, every half a minute or so, the dashboard for any new info. Bizarrely, save for that failure indicator message, nothing else happened, adding to the unwanted mystery that had unfurled on an otherwise nondescript journey.

A quick Google at home revealed the likely cause of the problem which, I’m told, is common for Porsche 996s. It’s a relatively easy fix and, most importantly, nowhere near as catastrophic as that on-board warning message will have you believe.

The culprit is the oil pressure sender unit, located above bank two (on the right-hand-side when looking at the engine through a raised decklid). The connection points can deteriorate or come loose altogether, meaning the oil pressure gauge in the cockpit becomes erratic, perhaps momentarily dropping to zero when driving under load. Giving the connections a wiggle could help but a replacement unit, for the avoidance of doubt, is less than £50 from Design911.

Thanks to Jim Gaisford for the above picture.

Thanks to Jim Gaisford for the picture.


Relieved at the prognosis, I dropped the 996 up to Ollie at RPM Technik, where it was booked in for some geo work anyway. A short time later I got the car back, oil pressure sender problem gone, and with much better handling too. I’ve previously mentioned the C4 suffered from serious understeer all summer but thanks to a stiffer rear and more negative camber on the front (as well as some replaced bushes), a lot of it has thankfully been dialled out.

So much so, in fact, that I managed to sneak onto one of the last track days on the Porsche Club GB’s 2016 calendar, which took place at Castle Combe. I’m a real advocate for track days with PCGB; the standard of driving seems to be pretty good and best of all you’re sharing track space with similarly powered cars. This means you’re not likely to go barrelling round Druids at Brands Hatch, for example, in a 991 GT3 RS, only to be met on the apex by a comparatively crawling mk1 Mazda MX5 (not that there’s anything wrong with those, as a former Eunos owner). Gawping exclusively at Porsche metal in the paddock during breaks and chatting with like-minded enthusiasts provides added appeal for any Porschephile at these events, too.

The 996 kept good company on track at PCGB's Castle Combe track day.

The 996 kept good company on track at PCGB’s Castle Combe track day.


Completion of the track day and subsequent drive home ticked the car over 6,000 miles since the last oil change, so the 996 will get new oil imminently before a renewed campaign of driving through the winter season… so long as there’s no more oil warning lights on the dashboard!


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Turbocharged Carrera review: one year on

Just over a year ago I attended the Frankfurt motor show, where I watched then CEO Matthias Müller unveil the new 991.2 Carrera to the world’s media. I don’t mind saying I was a little apprehensive in the run-up to that silk cloth being lifted from the framework of the latest 911, either.

The adoption of turbochargers for this latest generation Carrera was widely anticipated, the reaction of the final product from press and punters worldwide less so. This move to turbocharging was a greater step for the 911 than its switch from air to water-cooling at the end of the 20th century, so it was simply imperative Porsche got it right. The big question was whether the latest evolution, exacerbated by a need to meet ever-stringent emissions regulations, would ruin the fabled Porsche 911 as we know it.

On paper at least, the new Carrera’s specs impressed. Greater power, increased performance marked by a significantly quicker ‘Ring lap time (Porsche quotes 7 minutes 30 seconds for the 991.2 Carrera S, some seven seconds quicker than the naturally aspirated Gen1, but I’ve heard from reliable Porsche sources the true timing was in fact quicker still) as well as improved emissions and fuel economy.


However, the acid test would come with a drive in the real world, and in the last year we’ve been lucky enough at Total 911 to rack up thousands of miles at the helm of various 2- and 4-wheel drive incarnations of the new Carrera and Carrera S across Coupe, Cab and Targa bodies. So what do we think of this game-changing new 911, one year on?

Headline news surrounds that ‘controversial’ turbocharged flat six. Far from being a disappointment, this new 9A2 engine is nothing short of a delight. There’s plenty of low-down torque available, which dispels those diesel estates that would previously embarrass Gen1 Carreras from the lights. Lag from the fixed-vane twin turbos is virtually non existent, and we’re rewarded with a peaky redline of some 7,400rpm. Essentially its character represents the best of both naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. If we’re picking picky (which, of course, we are), the turbocharged unit lacks the initial, razor sharp throttle response of the naturally aspirated Gen1’s flat six, but that’s a minor blotch on the copy paper here. In the real world at normal road speeds, you’d be hard pressed to notice.

The elephant in the room is the exhaust note, with blown 911s notorious for their muted acoustics. However, our on-board blast around Laguna Seca with Hurley Haywood last year seemed to put people at ease and, with Sports exhaust optioned, the flat six’s guttural growl is preserved. Granted, it isn’t as raucous in the mid range to redline as Gen1 991 Carreras, but it’s still very animated in tone, even popping when easing off the gas in Sport mode. We like it a lot.


Other improvements to the Gen2 car include the relocating of the Sport (and Sport plus, when optioned) button to a new Mode dial attached within the circumference of the steering wheel. This change is welcome from a logistical and safety aspect: the driver can now switch between mapping without having to take his or her eyes off the road while fumbling for a push button on the centre console. PASM is also standard equipment on the Carrera now, offering firm damping for sporty driving (read: track use) while retaining civility for day-to-day errands. Apple CarPlay is a useful addition too, though this is never going to be make-or-break in the spec for a true driving enthusiast.

To conclude, then, the new Carrera gets a resounding vote of confidence from Total 911 as a worthy improvement over the brilliant Gen1 without, crucially, abandoning the final strands of that true 911 DNA we know and love. In fact, in our head-to-head test between Gen1 and Gen2 991 Carreras in January, we commented on our surprise at how quickly the new turbocharged car won us over, head and heart.

After such a gushing appraisal I must point out I’ve no agenda with Porsche here. I truly shared the anxiety of 911 enthusiasts worldwide who this time last year suspected the new 991 would represent a change too far for the 911 as we know it. Luckily, we need never have worried.


Total 911’s 991.2 Carrera Positives

+ Turbocharged flat six is gutsy and high revving; has character

+ Sound track is still animated, familiar flat six howl still prevalent

+ Basic manual 911 now the sweet spot of the Carrera range



– Lacks razor-sharp throttle response of NA 991

– Steering feel still far removed from mechanically assisted cars up to and including 997

– PDK too clinical for road use


What do you think of the Gen2 991 Carrera? Comment below or tweet us: @total911


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Opinion: Am I mad for wanting a Porsche 991.2 GT3 with PDK?

Manual gearboxes have been quite a talking point on Total911.com in recent months. It all started back in July when our spies spotted a 991.2 GT3 test mule with what looked very much like a gear lever on the centre console.

It all but confirmed what we had been hearing on the grapevine: the next 911 GT3 would get the same six-speed shifter as found in the revered 911 R, a car that appears to have truly opened the Porsche board’s eyes the sheer number of Neunelfer enthusiasts who’d rather have a manual gearbox.

Having briefly driven the 991 R up the hill at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, I can understand why people are so eager for the new manual ‘box to make its way onto the next GT3 (where it will undoubtedly be experienced by more than the 991 owners lucky enough to snag an ‘R’).

Photo by: CarPix AB

Photo by: CarPix AB

Of all the analogue shifters on our top five list earlier this week, the six-speed MT11 unit in the Porsche 911 R is easily the most technically accomplished. It’s a joy to use and I know it’s a personal favourite of Total 911 Editor, Lee too.

With the likely choice of PDK or manual on the 991.2 GT3, I know which gearbox I’d choose if had the financial means to order the latest creation from Andreas Preuninger’s incredible Weissach department.

Yep, PDK is the only way for me. Yes, you’ve read that right. Despite all my love for the six-speed manual, if it were my own money on the line, I’d be taking Porsche’s stunning dual-clutch gearbox. Am I mad?


I may well be. If I was buying a normal 991.2 Carrera, I’d have the seven-speed manual shifter everyday of the week over the PDK unit but, on the motorsport-inspired GT3, I want to shift with those delightfully tactile paddles and left foot brake, exploiting all the mechanical trickery of Preuninger-tuned chassis.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy driving the manual Gen2 GT3. In fact, on the road, it may be the more engaging proposition but, on track, where a Porsche GT truly belongs, the PDK transmission just seems like the logical choice.

The statistics may offer me some solace too. In our recent poll – the results of which you can see in the next issue of Total 911 – the final reckoning between manual and PDK was probably much closer than you expected. And, in the UK, 911 enthusiasts were split exactly 50:50. Maybe I’m not quite such a black sheep….

Is Josh crazy for wanting a Porsche 991.2 GT3 with a PDK ‘box? Join the debate in the comments below, or head over to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.



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Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: the six month assessment

Six short months ago I sold my BMW E46 M3 and, with a bit of extra cash, stepped into Porsche 911 ownership with the purchase of a late Gen2 996 Carrera 4. As those familiar with my story from Total 911 magazine’s ‘Living the Legend’ owner reports section will know, I purchased the car from trusted independent Porsche specialists, RPM Technik, in a cut-price deal as it needed work before RPM considered it to be ‘ready for retail’. I was happy to take on the project and purchased the car without any warranty (the ‘brave vs naive’ debate is still open for comment!).

In the 193 days since, my 996 story has evolved rapidly. The car has taken in 8,000 miles including two track days and two weekend roadtrips to Scotland and then Wales, had shiny new upgrades fitted, had its basalt black paintwork brought back to life, and most importantly, it’s not failed me once. During that time, I learned more about my 996’s history thanks to OPC Bournemouth, who revealed the car had a complete bottom end rebuild and later IMS fitted at a main dealer in 2010, meaning half the engine had covered just 35,000 miles before my purchase. I’ve also done my best to look after the M96 flat six as much as possible, avoiding short journeys of less than 15 minutes and changing the oil after 6,000 miles.

Picture courtesy of Porsche Club GB

Track days are addictive but they provide the ideal environment for both car and driver to find their limits. Picture courtesy of Porsche Club GB.

Used mainly at weekends, I’ve been nothing short of delighted with my 996.2 C4. I like how classic the driving experience is compared to the mammoth new 991s; I’m positively thrilled with the value for money the car represents compared to other 911s; and I’m impressed by how cheap, relatively, the 996 is to run. It didn’t take long to identify one or two nuances with the model in general though, most notably of which was the lack of any stimulating engine sound whatsoever beneath 6,500rpm. Redlining the car everywhere isn’t exactly practical and the flaps on factory PSEs are known to jam open over time, so I plumped for a pair of Milltek rear silencers to rectify the situation. As you can see and hear from the video, they’ve proved a great addition.

It’s true the build quality inside is light years away from the lavish confines of a 997 or 991, but then I remind myself if it wasn’t for the 996’s production frugality there would be no 997 or 991 to begin with. I also think the 3.4-litre flat six from the Gen1 996 is the more rewarding engine, its peaky nature encouraging a driver to live in the top half of the tacho to progress quickly. However, the torquier bottom end of the 3.6 is ideal for track work and Sunday jaunts, intensified in my case by the CSR lightweight flywheel for quick heel-and-toe gear changes. A short-shift kit will complete the experience – watch this space!

Ventures with my plucky 996 inspired my friend, Alex, to join me in early water-cooled 911 ownership.

Ventures with my plucky 996 inspired my friend, Alex, to join me in early water-cooled 911 ownership.

So far, the 996 has given me everything I wanted from 911 ownership, and a few things I didn’t. It being a proper sports car that’s incredibly addictive to drive falls into the former category, while annoying failures of the indicator stalk (accompanied by a £500 quote from Porsche for a new one!) and driver’s door microswitch fall brazenly into the latter. I’ve improved the 996’s response and directness of handling with the addition of Bilstein PSS10 coilovers all round, though there’s work still to be done to reduce the inherent understeer plaguing the C4 through even medium severity turns. All in in all though I’ve immensely enjoyed entry-level 911 ownership so far and am relishing the prospect of driving the car through the winter months and beyond.

What’s the point of sharing my 996 story, I hear you ask? Well, my answer is two-fold. Firstly, I promised nothing but honest journalism in my owner reports, giving you real-world feedback, warts n’ all, of life owning an entry-level Porsche 911. The second reason – and most important – is because sharing our stories with others is all part of the unique Porsche experience. And that’s exactly why I want to hear from you.

What’s your 911 story? Whether you’re 53 minutes or 53 years into 911 ownership, we want to hear your very best 911-related anecdotes. Comment below or email us: [email protected] The best comments will be published in an upcoming issue of Total 911 magazine.



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