Opinion: Why the Porsche 996 is a better 911 than the 993

Over the years, we have been accused at various times of perpetuating the notion that the 996 generation of Porsche 911s is inferior to all others. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth and, to prove it, I’m here to convince you why the Porsche 996 is truly a better bet than the 993-type neunelfer it replaced.

For one thing, thanks to the switch to water-cooling (something denounced wholeheartedly by Porsche ‘purists’) it’s much harder to overheat a Porsche 996, especially in traffic.

Getting stuck in a city centre jam in a Porsche 993 is one of life’s truly nerve-wracking experiences. However, if you find yourself in the same situation behind the wheel of a Porsche 996, you’ve got much less to worry about.

996 Carrera

That will allow you to sit back, relax and enjoy the more ergonomic cockpit and improved driving position. Sitting in a right-hand drive 993, you’ll find your legs askew trying to reach the offset pedals whereas a Porsche 996 sees you in a much more comfortable position.

And, while far from perfect, the button layout inside a Porsche 996 is much more intuitive than the scattergun approach used in the 993 (and every other generation before it).

Of course, experiencing a Porsche 911 isn’t just about such trivialities. Thankfully, all variants of Porsche 996 benefit from greater performance (one of the reasons behind the water-cooled switch) and, when comparing like for like, I’d even argue they drive better.

993 Carrera

In standard form, the 993 Carrera’s engine feels a little flat compared to the rev-happy M96 unit in the 996 Carrera. Likewise, the 993’s chassis dynamics are firmly rooted in the past while the 996 benefits from a much more modern, nimble character.

While the Porsche’s last air-cooled generation of sports cars may have given us the 993 Carrera RS, the 996 introduced us to the now-iconic GT3 too, a sub-brand of 911s that has opened up the performance envelope to those not wanting something as hardcore as a Rennsport.

They’re affordable too (at least in the current market). Thanks to the air-cooled boom, Porsche 993s are no longer an entry-level option, leaving myriad 996 Carreras as the gateway into Porsche 911 ownership.

996 GT3

Now for the big one though. Those lights notwithstanding, I think the Porsche 996 is better looking than the 993. There are certain front three-quarter angles where the 993 and its flattened, 959-esque headlights just don’t look right.

Catch it from the wrong perspective and the 993 looks warped and (dare I say it) ugly. Meanwhile, the 996’s silhouette is much more cohesive and timeless. After all, there’s a reason why the general shape of the 911 has changed little in recent years from the lines originally seen on the 996 generation.

So, there you go: six reasons why the Porsche 996 is a greater generation than the 993. And, if you still don’t believe me, just remember, the 993 nearly bankrupted Porsche. It was the 996 though that helped to save Zuffenhausen from folding.

Do you agree with Josh? Is the Porsche 996 a better generation than the 993? Join the debate in the comments below or head to our Facebook and Twitter pages now.

Comments (10)

  • Ronald J Evans Jr.

    & Faster. Case closed/

  • Rob g

    Ive had a 930 daily driver for the last two or so years and just this last month I added to my garage a 1998 3.4 996 with carbon fibre interior and gt3 body kit, (aside from the Modern beasty looks)on paper the performance figures are neck and neck with the 3.0 930, the first four gears to around 150mph, But then the 996 has an extra two gears to go,,! which takes it to 175mph Yes Please 🙂

  • Brownninja97 .

    996 has always been my favourite, the 991 is coming very close. ive always thought the 997 is the worst, it looks like a child compared to the monsters of the previous generation and the newer generations

  • WCRacer

    The 996 is finally coming full circle. Now that a company in Florida USA has developed a non-maintenance permanent fix for the Intermediate shaft bearing, there’s no need question the virtues of the 996 as an evolutionary step forward from the 993. Since the early headlight cars were only produced between 97-2000, those will become the collectors of the future. .

  • Ed Hughes

    This is the most non-objective and uninformed article I’ve read in a while, thereby making it comical.

    Seems like you left out some pretty important facts, and I’d say your observations on aesthetics are in society’s minority.

    Oh, the comment on all air-cooked cockpits being “scattergunned”….priceless.

  • warren22theape

    That’s why it’s an opinion. However, I agree with you that describing the 993 as “scattergunned” makes no sense. The 993 interior button layout seems pretty clean and minimalist to me. 996 is a faster car, probably drives better, and most certainly currently costs A LOT less to purchase. Even a twin turbo 996 can easily be had for $42,000 with no worries about that pesky IMSB.

  • warren22theape

    Source: 996: The Essential Companion

    Year Production

    1997 14

    1998 9,248

    1999 28,040

    2000 20,979

    2001 27,275

    2002 33,013

    2003 29,536

    2004 23,145

    2005 4,012

    Total 175,262

  • Kernel_Panic

    Still the most modern-looking 911 ever as well (especially the 6.2), way faster, much more space, better aerodynamics, better engine, better headlights for night driving, better handling, stopping, steering and balance. Way cheaper and less likely to rust….makes you wonder how it’s taken everyone so long to realise this.

  • Niall G

    Re Aesthetics, your comment is incredibly non-objective and uninformed. Although I suspect more delusional than uninformed. ‘Society’ loved the 996. What planet were you living on? It was a flipping’ HUGE success and won a much wider consumer base for Porsche than the 993 ever did and whose sales were really starting to grind to a halt towards the end. Sure, some people utterly adore the 993 and will pay good money for them. Their relative lack of success at the time means they are much rarer. The 996 was such a huge success that the cars are far less rare and less costly to purchase today. Those are objective facts. What amuses me greatly is 993 lovers assuming with the child like innocence and impunity of someone who has led a very air-cooled sheltered existence that the rest of ‘society’ shares their view when the facts completely point elsewhere.

  • Donald Burger

    +1