Over the past decade or so, Porsche has been making arguably the best 911s in history. They are pillars of performance, attractive aesthetic, aural seduction, and comfort. They aren’t just the best 911s in history, they’re among the best cars, full-stop. The 996 led the 911’s watercooled revolution, but it was the 997 that really put the edge on and made the car a shining sports car. The 991 was a revolutionary approach to the 911, making almost everything better. The 991 offers more performance than the 997, in fact depending on the track, the 991 Carrera S is faster than a 997 GT3. The 997, some would argue, is fitted with more communicative steering, as the 991 has an electrically assisted rack. The 991 is more comfortable, and the interior feels much higher quality, but is much larger than the 997, which somehow just feels the ‘right’ size inside. If you’re in the market, how do you decide?
The Major Positive Of A Porsche 997 Over A 991 Is A Side Effect Of Depreciation
While a new 991 Carrera S will set you back in excess of $100 grand, a good 997 Carrera S can be had for quite a bit less. Figure that you can get into a nice 2008-2011 (because those have the “good engine” a Type-9A1 direct-injected unit that is still used in the 991) Carrera S or Carrera 4S anywhere from $50k to just under $70,000. Additionally, you can get the wicked quick 997 Turbo of the same vintage for just a touch more, there are plenty for sale in the eighty thousand dollar range that will get the pulse moving pretty quickly. Of course, there are also GTS and GT3 models to consider. For the purposes of this argument, I think we’ll stick with an apples to apples 991 C4S versus 997 C4S comparison.
This whole argument stems from a thread on Reddit that we stumbled upon recently. The original poster mentions that he’s in the market for a 911 as a daily driven car, including inclement winter weather. If it were your money, which 911 would you buy, what options would be an absolute necessity, and why?
The 991 and 997 Carrera 4S, more specifically the post-facelift 997, share a lot in common. They both use the 9A1 based engine with give or take the same horsepower. They both have a very good all wheel drive system. They both sport wide fenders and wide wheels. They are both available with an excellent PDK transmission. They are both supremely fun to drive. Lets look at a few things that separate them.
The 991 and the 997 are likely very similar to live with on a daily basis. If my commute were nothing but freeway and straight boulevards, I’d probably feel sort of guilty subjecting a Porsche to that daily slog. Every once in a while, I’d surely have to take the long way and find some local fun driving roads. Come the weekends, though, and it’d be a blastoff to some local mountains and valleys specifically for a back road fun run.
Owning a Porsche is one thing, but daily driving a Porsche sports car is another thing altogether. I’ve done it before, and I’ve always found it lifts my spirits. I always get to work in a better mood, and arrive home already having forgotten the woes of the work day. If you can figure out a way to make it work for you, I suggest you try it. Porsches love to be driven.
This is perhaps an odd comparison, because the 991 is unequivocally a sports car, and yet it feels more like a Grand Touring car than the 997 generation does. In every conceivable measurable way, the 991 is superior. It grips better, it accelerates better, and it drives better. For some reason, though, the 997 feels more like a sports car because of its comparative inadequacies.
My primary gripe about either car, if you can call it that, is the Germanic lack of proper cupholders. This is something you just have to get used to when you drive German cars, but they tend to only have diminutive ‘can holders’ that don’t really work well if you grab a Starbucks on your way to work, or a Big Gulp on your way home. If you need a drink, you’ll either become proficient at driving with one hand, or you’ll start buying bottles with resealable caps. It’s a minor inconvenience, but something that should be brought up.
In that reddit thread, a lot of time is devoted to discussing whether the 997 or the 991 has the better stereo system. Personally I couldn’t care any less than I do, because while I love music, I’m hardly an audiophile. I’ve never found a need for ‘premium’ audio, because I’ve spent enough time around unmuffled cars that my ears can’t tell the difference. If it matters to you, then you may need to just listen to them yourself for a proper verdict. Some say the base Bose system sounds like junk, and you need to opt for premium speakers. Your audio experience may vary.
There really isn’t any argument here. The 991 has the better interior of the two, in fact, one of the best interiors Porsche has ever put together. The seats are insanely comfortable, and everything is easily within reach. The interior is where you’ll spend your time in the car, so it does matter. The 997, on the other hand, has a more familiar feeling to it. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the drivers seat of 997s and 987s, and they just feel more like a Porsche inside. That’s a very poor way to describe it, but I can’t think of another way to phrase it. The 997’s “Porsche-ness” makes me enjoy the drive a little more.
Driving your Porsche in inclement weather is something of a touching point for me. I grew up in the nasty winters of the Midwest, so I’m well familiar with snow, sleet, hail, and any combination of them at once. I’ve seen 3-feet of snow fall in a matter of hours. Don’t worry, your Porsche can make it through all of this if it is properly equipped. I can’t say this enough, but if you drive your Porsche where there is snow, buy a second set of wheels and fit them with excellent winter tires. In countries like Canada, snow tires are mandatory, but here in the US, you can drive all year long on Michelin Pilot Sport Cups if you have the required combination of talent and chutzpah. If you don’t desire to wad your new Porsche into a ball in the winter, do yourself a favor and get dedicated tires. “All Season” tires are the proverbial Jack of all trades, yet master of none.
While Porsche’s all-wheel drive system is nice for traction, it does nothing to aid stopping in winter situations. Your tires are the only things that make your brakes effective. The general rule for winter wheels and tires is that you want a bit narrower wheels so that the tire doesn’t just ride up on top of the snow, but actually pushes through it to get to the road surface. If you don’t like the look of your Widebody Porsche with narrower wheels tucked into the body, a combination of high offset wheels and wheel spacers will help the car look a little more normal during the winter months.
As a side benefit, your dedicated winter tires allow you to get a set of dedicated summer tires with a higher grip threshold, but poor cold-weather performance. Go ahead, you and your daily driver Porsche deserve it!
This is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever had to answer. Mostly because I love both of these cars so dearly.
The 991 is prettier, more comfortable, easier to drive, and feels more solid and better put together. The 997 feels sportier, a ‘better fit’, and much much less spendy.
At the end of the day, I’d probably vote with my wallet and get the 997 for the significantly lower price, but as a daily driver the 991 would probably be the superior pick. Comfort is key when you’re in the car for long commutes. Whatever your needs or price point, there’s probably a 911 daily driver out there for you.