The unloved 996 or the refined 997? There are plenty of reasons to love both, and a few reasons to dislike them, too. In this very detailed review, we learn a little more about the characters of these two generations, and why the 996 might offer plenty of thrills if the prospective buyer can appreciate or look past the divisive looks.
The Redheaded Stepchild
The 996 is showing its age. Bushings do wear out with these cars reaching the twenty-year mark, and of course, there are the IMS issues which scare some off. It rides roughly, and the styling is generally disliked.
That said, there are plenty of visual points to appreciate with this aero-kitted 996 C4S. Some find it a stunning car, and there's no denying a 996 C4S still turns a few heads when purring down the street. With the 993-esque reflector strip at the rear, the Turbo's widebody, and the gaping intakes at the front, there's plenty to like. Why the 996 gets as much flak for its appearance as it does it beyond me, though the maintenance issues I fully understand.
It's also a very thrilling, active-in-your-hands style of machine. The lively steering, bouncy nose, and classic 911's idiosyncrasies make it a thrilling machine to drive. In fact, the owner of the 997.2, Stephen, feels the driving dynamics of the two aren't so different.
The Favored Younger Sibling
The 997.2's looks are more conventional, and that's enough to change the general perception of the generation. There's more to it than that. The new engine, the DFI, which loses the troublesome intermediate shaft. It also revs better; pulling harder to the redline than the 996's motor does.
The 997 also sports PASM, and as a result, it's a little more versatile in the real world. Additionally, it's lighter and nearly as powerful, which makes the 997.2 the quicker car in a straight line. Though its steering lacks a little feel, comparatively speaking, the 997.2 might be the better car on a daily basis.
Is the 997 worth the extra money? Perhaps—due to the general perception of the car, it ought to maintain its prices a bit better. Either way, these two are wonderful cars with their own strengths, and neither should get overlooked.