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Our Cars: Porsche 911 (996) Carrera 2

6 months ago

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Ben Oliver | Journalist


23 January 2024

Twenty years ago almost to the day, The Intercooler’s Peter Robinson completed one of the most comprehensive tests in the history of motoring journalism: nearly two years and 25,000 miles at the wheel of a second-generation 996, 3.6-litre Porsche 911, driving it around Europe from his then home in Italy as a long-term test for Autocar. His verdict? ‘The best car in the world.’

He wasn’t alone in that view. Writing in Autocar a couple of years earlier when the revised 996 was launched, my then-colleague Chris Harris said that he’d ‘always preferred the water-cooled car’ to the air-cooled 993 it replaced; that the new 996 was ‘the best naturally aspirated machine the company has ever made’; that it had ‘induction and exhaust noise better than any air-cooled 911’; and that it was now ‘the supreme expression of performance motoring’. Another story in Autocar declared it ‘the best 911 ever: no arguments’.

Eh? What happened in the meantime? You can get a decent, plain, manual 996 Carrera 2 coupé for twenty grand, and a bad one for a lot less. But you’ll need £65,000 for the previous air-cooled 993 in the same specification, and £90-100,000 for a wide-bodied C2S. It’s a useful ego-check for us motoring journalists to see that you pay no attention whatsoever to what we think – or thought. And it’s remarkable how quickly and comprehensively our collective view of a car can shift.

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