Porsche folk are a divided lot, the rifts created by the factory as it has reinvented itself several times during the last 40 years. Remember the 968? Great car, one of the best handling sports cars this writer ever drove. Ask a 964 911 owner what he thinks of it. Chances are a front-engined watercooled Porsche is not what he'd consider a true Porsche.
Enter the 996. It still resembles the car Butzi designed some three decades ago, the engine sits in the rear and it kicks serious ass. Ask a 993 owner what he thinks of it. Chances are he probably prefers his aircooled 911.
Argue purity all you want, but the fact remains--the new 996, er, 911 will outperform its older sibling on any venue, and do more without ever breaking a sweat.
Despite its formidable talent, many say the new 996 hides too much, a "problem" TechArt addresses with its aerodynamic treatment and singular 18-in. running gear. The effect leaves the Porsche with a meaner but still handsome face. TechArt's rear wing is a bit more controversial; then again, so is the factory's biturbo unit. It works well at 120 mph, providing a few hundred pounds of additional downforce. TechArt's suspension appears to be well sorted. The car is markedly firmer, and the larger anti-roll bars aid in high-speed stability--the car feels the same at 50 mph as it does at 100 mph. Through the twisty bits, the 996 remains very flat and behaves with a decidedly neutral attitude--steering is perfectly weighted with excellent feedback. Over less-than-perfect roads, the TechArt 996 soaks up bumps fairly well, although bigger stuff makes the car a tad jumpy. It could be the car is faster than it actually feels--it's as if there's an extra filter in the 996.
The cabin was treated with bits from Porsche's GT3 pantry. The seats are GT3 buckets laced with matching Motorsport harnesses, and a GT3 rollover bar is situated just behind the driver's head. It looks all business, yet manages to be user friendly--the stuff is amazingly comfortable and non-intrusive while providing huge lateral support and the sensation of being part of the car. TechArt's pedal assembly works well--I could heel-and-toe even with my size-13 Doc Martens, and the abbreviated throws from the shifter made gear changes surgically precise. TechArt's three-spoke steering is beautiful, although its carbon-fiber trim becomes slippery with sweaty hands. I wonder if TechArt makes gloves?
In comparison to our long-term 996, the TechArt C4 has a substantially deeper voice, at idle and under full load. The car pulls hard, both out of the hole and all the way to seven grand--no flat spots, no spikes, just a huge forward surge.
Although our focus this issue is on the 993, I wanted to spend time in a modified 996 for comparative purposes. Just how much better is the newer car? Given the choice, which would I want? From a styling perspective, I'd choose a 993 C4S, just like the one on our cover. However, if I were being chased by terrorists up a mountain pass, the TechArt C4 would be my weapon of choice.
TechArt Aero Kit
Rear wing II
TechArt Formula Wheels
Front: 8.5x18 with Michelin Pilot Sport 225/40R18
Rear: 10.5x18 with Michelin Pilot Sport 285/30R18
TechArt Sport Suspension
Height-adjustable coilover shocks and springs
Three-position adjustable roll bars
Porsche GT3 brake upgrade
TechArt Performance Kit 298 hp to >328hp
High-flow air filter
Stainless exhaust manifolds
Stainless sport exhaust
Porsche GT3 rollover bar
Porsche GT3 bucket seats
Porsche GT3 six-point harness
TechArt sport steering wheel
TechArt short shift kit
TechArt aluminum pedal set and footrest
TechArt phone console with Nokia hands-free kit
Reus Systems Porsche 996-specific audio system