996 or 997 Turbo?

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A 997 Turbo is an expensive car. Let’s face it, £100,000 is a lot of money in anyone’s books – especially mine – and, if the 996 Turbo is anything to go by, you’ll have to cope with depreciation as fast as the car’s impressive performance. Indeed, a quick look at the classifieds shows that early (2006) 997 Turbos can be had for as little as £60,000, so you’d be taking quite a hit if you’d bought new.

Buying used, £60,000 is still a lot of money, when you realise that you can pick up an example of the previous generation 996 Turbo for under £30,000. Yes, it’s true – the cheapest I’ve seen was a 2000 Tiptronic with 70,000 miles for just £26,000. The 996 Turbo is the supercar bargain of the year.

On the face of it, the 997 version is little more than an evolution of the 996 Turbo – the engine and chassis have stayed fundamentally unchanged – so do you really need to spend over £60,000 more on a new Turbo? What will it give you, apart from a hefty overdraught? To find out, I’ve brought the 997 to Castello Cars in Warwickshire (www.castellocars.co.uk), where’s there’s a 2003 996 Turbo for sale for £38,995. OK, that’s ten grand more than the baseline figure but I’ve always figured that it’s best not to go for the cheapest example of any 911 and, besides, the basics of any 996 Turbo will be the same.

This car, like many others, has been updated with the later 997 19-inch Turbo wheels, which do look good (they should– they cost around £3500 a set) and an improvement on the original 18-inch items. It’s covered a modest 43,000 miles and has been beautifully looked after – there’s not a mark on its Seal Grey Metallic paintwork which, in that respect, puts the car on an even keel with the 997 in our photographs.

Placing the two cars side by side is an interesting exercise. To a disinterested passer-by, they’d look pretty much identical – they’re both 911s, in other words. To you and me, though, the differences are very apparent – the 997 is not merely a facelifted 996, every body panel is different; even the edge of the roofline has changed.

Many of the updates – such as the lights – are common to the whole of the 997 range, although it’s interesting to note that this 2009 Turbo still has the ‘old’ 997 rear lamps, not the LED items now found on the rest of the range. It would be disappointing to fork out your £100,000 only to find your neighbour’s £70,000 Carrera looks more modern (at least the Turbo now has PCM3, though).

The 996 Turbo looks understated next to the more blingy 997. It would be unfair to say it is dull but it is certainly not as eye-catching as it’s younger brother which, in this day and age, is perhaps not a bad thing. I prefer the 993-inspired headlamps of the 997, but am less convinced by its LED indicators and projector-style driving lamps. Both cars have three large front air intakes, but those of the 997’s work better as a whole (no pun intended), whereas the 996’s look more disjointed from one another. The 997’s rear wings are 22mm wider than those of the 996, which makes the car more shapely and less slab-sided, while the side intakes are slashed by a single strake which gives a more aggressive look.

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