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Old 05-06-2013, 08:53 PM   #1
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986 2.5L vs 996 3.4L Comparison

I just bought a 1999 996 C2 after my 1999 986 was totaled while parked in front of my house. Here are my thoughts between the two. My thanks and apologies to 986_inquiry for stealing the format.

1999 986 2.5 5-speed vs 1999 996 3.4 6-speed review

1) ACCELERATION: Well, the 996 has 300hp compared to the 986's 200hp. 50% more hp is a big deal especially when the 996 weighs slightly less than the Boxster. The bottom line is the 996 quite nicely out accelerates the 986.

2) MPG: Don't care. At all.

3) STEREO: Same CDR-220. But let's talk about the REAL stereo - the exhaust! The Boxster rips the 996 a new one here. The 996 exhaust is too quiet and too low toned - and there is no 4000 rpm howl. I'd take the Boxster exhaust any day.

4) AC/HEATING: Same system, good ol' Manuell.

5) HANDLING: Night and day difference. The Boxster has fantastic turn in and balance in corners - dive in, set the suspension, and ride the edge of grip using throttle steering (more throttle to push the arc out, less throttle to pull it back in). No drama, everything stays nice and tidy.

The 996 has a ton of grip, maybe more then the Boxster once set into a turn, but it is slower to turn in and it is more than happy to have the rear come around once things get slidey - especially if you let up on the throttle too much while trying to tighten up the turn like I do in the Boxster. The solution: keep the weight on those huge rear tires!

And let's not forget the 996's light steering feel on hard acceleration out of a turn. Yes, the rear weight bias lets the 996 dig out of a corner like no other car, BUT its a bit uncomforting to have the steering go so light.

6) EXTERIOR: Your choice. I like both designs although the rear of the Boxster always looked a bit awkward to me whereas the 996 is perfectly proportioned front to rear.

7) INTERIOR: Very much the same. Rear seats in the 996 are useless for people but are handy for throwing stuff back there. But I have to admit, I really miss the rear trunk! The 996 is about 100 times easier to see out of the back as compared to the Boxster. While the 996 isn't as quiet as a BMW, it is still quite a bit quieter than the fabric roofed Boxster. But then, the 996 sunroof isn't even close to how nice it is to have the top down on the Box.

8) TRANSMISSION: The 6-spd of the 996 is smoother and the sixth gear is nice to have to reduce rev's on the freeway. The Boxster 5-spd always felt a bit clunky to me.

11) BRAKING: Even though the 996 brakes are bigger, the Boxster brakes are still better. Not sure why, but they are.

12) OTHER: The 996 really feels more like a GT car and the Boxster is IMHO a true sports car. The 996 feels smoother and more refined whereas the Boxster is more immediate and tactile.

13) WOW FACTOR: Everyone likes the 911 so I think that the 996 has an edge here. No more "poor man's Porsche" jokes - instead everyone will think that you're an orthodontist. Not sure which is worse.

Which do I like better? Both. For pure driving excitement, the Boxster can't be beat. But the 996 feels more expensive and is smoother on long freeway drives. Add in the 300hp acceleration and the more balanced styling and the 996 is hard to deny.

I'm glad that I will be able to keep the 996 for the street and build a Spec Boxster for the track. Best of both worlds!

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Old 05-07-2013, 02:05 AM   #2
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The 996 weighs less than the 986? Is your 996 striped out?
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Old 05-07-2013, 04:32 AM   #3
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A good driver in a 2.5 will smoke an average weekend warrior dude in a 2.7. Driving these cars in a straight line is like...sorry, nothing witty comes to mind, but you know what I mean. 99% of drivers will never find themselves buried in a four wheel drift is a corner saying I wish I had that extra 5 mph in third.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:42 AM   #4
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Great write up Thstone! I wonder what your thoughts had been if your Boxster had been an "S" with the 3.2 which of course has the 6 speed. I love your #2 comment about mpg. I get that question a lot and give the same answer, who cares! I think you nailed it in your last comment though about having the best of both worlds!
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
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fwiw, I just did 1500 kms in two days in a 2006 3.6 x51 and it got better mileage than my 2000 3.2 s. go figure.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by pothole View Post
The 996 weighs less than the 986? Is your 996 striped out?
Sorry, my error!

1999 Boxster = 1,280 kg or 2,822 lbs
1999 996 = 1,395 kg or 3,075 lbs

Both weights from the same source.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:21 AM   #7
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Quite a fair review stone and one that largely mirrors my own experience. Prior to buying my 986 2.7 Boxster I also tried a couple of 996's and, status issues aside, I found that the handling (and exhaust note - no doubt helped by the side air intake) on the 986 to literally scream 'sport car', whereas the 996, while faster, seemed more muted and GT'ish. Of course, the impression was likely accentuated by the fact that the Boxster is a convertible and I had not driven a 996 Cab.

As to styling, as you say 'your choice'. I actually prefer the 986 as IMO the 996, while clean, is perhaps the dullest-looking 911 since the 1960's. The slab sides without the significant flaring for the wheel arches that were used in most later 911's, just don't do it for me, whereas the coke-bottle shape, side air intakes, rear hips and tailights that trace the rear fender form on the 986 do.

Porsche had (and has) it right - they really do appeal to different buyers (or if you can afford multiple Porsche's - different uses by the same buyer).

Brad
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:42 AM   #8
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As to styling, as you say 'your choice'. I actually prefer the 986 as IMO the 996, while clean, is perhaps the dullest-looking 911 since the 1960's. The slab sides without the significant flaring for the wheel arches that were used in most later 911's, just don't do it for me, whereas the coke-bottle shape, side air intakes, rear hips and tailights that trace the rear fender form on the 986 do.

Agree and disagree with that at the same time!

One of the things I like about the 996 is its narrowness. Standard 911s were narrow without any flaring from 1963 until the SC in 1978 and even that had only very mild flaring, which continued to be the case until the 993 appeared in 1993 or thereabouts.

It's one reason why I love the 996 GT3 RS so much. It's just so no nonsense with the narrow body. Widebody is sexy, but it's also a bit shouty.

Generally really like the fact that the 996 is clean clean and uncluttered and indeed narrow bodied. For me that actually makes it closer to the original 911 ethos than the cars that have followed. Everyone gets hung up on the lights, but the 997 in manys ways is a step away from 911ness compared to the 996.
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:42 AM   #9
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Nice writeup @thstone! You should know. Agree with BruceH, should have compared it to a 3.2 L model S with a sexy 6 speed.

…or you could have the BEST of BOTH WORLDS…a 986 S with 300 HP! A very EYE POPPING driving car.

Your 'toolbag' will shrink up every you drive it! That is when you KNOW the car you have built is fast!

Good to know what model 996 I can pick a fight with! he-he
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:10 PM   #10
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I hear you Pothole and I guess I also agree and disagree at the same time. I do find the round headlights/front styling on the 997 to look much more '911'ish' than the headlights/front styling on the 996, especially prior to the 2002 revisions. I agree, however, that the clean sides on the 996 do harken back to the early 911's more than subsequent editions. Personally, I preferred the look of the later air-cooled cars but that is, of course, purely a matter of taste. As to the width of the bodies, while both cars have wider bodies than the air-cooled 911's (its why they were able to eliminate the flares from the 993 on the 996), nevertheless the 997 is somewhat wider still.

I still prefer the styling on the 986 to the 996: while the 986 has numerous historical references to the 550 Spyder, it nevertheless was a very original design. The 996, however, borrowed the sheet metal of the 986 (introduced 2 years earlier than the 996) from the B-pillars forward, blending them with a 911 style roofline and rear fenders. It seems that, after Porsche upgraded performance to the 986 in the 2000 model year (2.7 and 3.2 engines, etc.), most customers also preferred the 986 Boxster until the front styling upgrade to the 996 in in the 2002 MY. At all other times, the sales of the au courant 911 has exceeded, often substantially, the sales of the Boxster, or the Boxster/Cayman combined:

The following sales figures are from: www.autozine.org/Manufacturer/Germany/Porsche/html

1998/1999 (1999 MY) 911 - 23, 090 Boxster - 20, 892
1999/2000 (2000 MY) 911 - 23, 050 Boxster - 25,747
2000/2001 (2001 MY) 911 - 26, 721 Boxster - 27,865
2001/2002 (2002 MY) 911 - 32, 337 Boxster - 21, 897
2002/2003 (2003 MY) 911 - 27, 789 Boxster - 18, 411
2003/2004 (2004 MY) 911 - 23,704 Boxster - 12, 988
2004/2005 (2005 MY) 911 - 27,826 Boxster - 18. 009
2005/2006 (2006 MY) 911 - 34,386 Boxster/Cayman - 27,906
2006/2007 (2007 MY) 911 - 37,415 Boxster/Cayman - 26,146
2007/2008 (2008 MY) 911 - 31,423 Boxster/Cayman - 21,747
2008/2009 (2009 MY) 911 - 27,776 Boxster/Cayman - 14,403
2009/2010 (2010 MY) 911 - 19,663 Boxster/Cayman - 11,717

The 911 has always had a performance edge over the Boxster, although that was reduced substantially in the 2000 model year with the introdution of the 3.2 'S' and 2.7 Base. Since then the performance edge for the 911 has remained roughly constant. What is the reason, then, that sales of the Boxster exceeded the 911 only in those two years? I suggest that it was the appearance of the 996until the 2002 front-end upgrade. Thereafter, and especially after the introduction of the 997, there has been no contest: the 997 outsold the 987 and Cayman by a substantial margin.

I understand that sales numbers/demand when new do not necessarily reflect demand for cars as they become older, but this is another of the reasons that I believe that the 986 Boxster S and Boxster from the 2000 and 2001 MY (especially those with dual-row IMS bearings) will ultimately become the most sought after. They were the only Boxsters that were more popular and sought after in their time than the comparable 911.

Brad

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Old 05-08-2013, 01:32 PM   #11
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As far as mid vs. rear, The Carrera has always struck me as a car that requires the driver to learn a new way of driving to end up with no net advantage on the time sheets.

Some folks find learning how to master a new thing "rewarding" but if at the end of the day the competition are all going quicker in mid engine cars it all seems more like a novelty to me.

If you look at the history, the Porsche 356 #1, the 911's precursor, that rolled off the assembly was at first a mid-engine drop top. But for sales reasons the engine was moved to the rear to allow for a backseat and thus more sales. Function followed form.
OTOH, the Porsche 550 Sypder that came later was made for racing without regard to sales. Form followed function.

Porsche got way too stuck on a car that was pretty late to the party, decades after Porsches were winning races in mid-engine form. There should have been a whole line up of midengine Cayman type cars entering the same races the 911 found success in. It would have shaken out as: Endurance racing to push floor sales of the Carrera and sprint racing to push sales of a mid-engine sports coupe/roadster.
Why the need to choose one over the other if the public today is willing to pay upwards of $1 million for an original Spyder?
Clearly they loved all things Porshce -- done well.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:39 PM   #12
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I just upgraded to 18" wheels with Pilot Super Sports 225's up front and 265 in the rear and all I can say is the grip is nuts. This car can turn and stop on a dime. I was powering through an exit ramp when I hit some traffic and she stopped without a hiccup. Although ABS did kick in a little.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:52 PM   #13
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I still prefer the styling on the 986 to the 996: while the 986 has numerous historical references to the 550 Spyder, it nevertheless was a very original design. The 996, however, borrowed the sheet metal of the 986 (introduced 2 years earlier than the 996) from the B-pillars forward, blending them with a 911 style roofline and rear fenders.
Brad
The 996 did not borrow sheet metal from the 986. They're derivations of a single architecture, designed and engineered together. It's just product cycles - one had to be first, they couldn't launch both at the same time for logistical reasons.

They're really the same car - front 2/3rds of body, platform, chassis, the works is a single module, shared by both. Then there's a pair of modules for the rear, one for mid installation, one for rear. Same engine, though. Very little that isn't shared when you get down to it.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:56 PM   #14
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As far as mid vs. rear, The Carrera has always struck me as a car that requires the driver to learn a new way of driving to end up with no net advantage on the time sheets.

Some folks find learning how to master a new thing "rewarding" but if at the end of the day the competition are all going quicker in mid engine cars it all seems more like a novelty to me.

Sorry, what does it matter how fast you're going? Surely it matters how much you are enjoying the drive?

I never time myself on the road. Nor on track days. I don't enter races, so lap times don't matter.

I like both 911s and Boxsters. Couldn't care less which is better on "time sheets". Why would that matter?
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:31 PM   #15
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Because he is looking for the "Perfectlap" as are many others. Me, I don't race and I really haven't spent any appreciable time on the track. I would like to however, and yes, I would like to keep track of my times. To each his own
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:15 PM   #16
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Because he is looking for the "Perfectlap" as are many others. Me, I don't race and I really haven't spent any appreciable time on the track. I would like to however, and yes, I would like to keep track of my times. To each his own
But surely even then what matters is improving your laptime in a given car, not absolute lap time. What does absolute lap time matter?

To give you an example, you might lap faster at a given track in, say, an Audi S4 than a basic 1.8-litre Lotus Elise because the Audi might have just too much of a power to weight advantage (it may not, but you get my point). But the Elise will be miles more enjoyable while you bank slower lap times.

In that context what the hell does the absolute lap time matter? Yes, you might want to improve you time in the Elise, but who the hell cares what lap time the Audi is doing?

And so we come to Boxster vs 911. Who cares which laps faster? Pick the one you enjoy driving the most.
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Old 05-08-2013, 05:44 PM   #17
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As to styling, as you say 'your choice'. I actually prefer the 986 as IMO the 996, while clean, is perhaps the dullest-looking 911 since the 1960's. The slab sides without the significant flaring for the wheel arches that were used in most later 911's, just don't do it for me ...
Brad - you couldn't have said it better. I hate those huge side slabs - but I do like the rear better on the 911. Hey, guys have had different opinions about "rear ends' for ages so nothing new here!
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:24 PM   #18
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But surely even then what matters is improving your laptime in a given car, not absolute lap time. What does absolute lap time matter?

To give you an example, you might lap faster at a given track in, say, an Audi S4 than a basic 1.8-litre Lotus Elise because the Audi might have just too much of a power to weight advantage (it may not, but you get my point). But the Elise will be miles more enjoyable while you bank slower lap times.

In that context what the hell does the absolute lap time matter? Yes, you might want to improve you time in the Elise, but who the hell cares what lap time the Audi is doing?

And so we come to Boxster vs 911. Who cares which laps faster? Pick the one you enjoy driving the most.
It's humbling when your Porsche is out-powered by a highly tuned civic, or a stock WRX non-STi. I want more HP every time I take the box over the WRX
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:55 PM   #19
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Agree and disagree with that at the same time!

One of the things I like about the 996 is its narrowness. Standard 911s were narrow without any flaring from 1963 until the SC in 1978 and even that had only very mild flaring, which continued to be the case until the 993 appeared in 1993 or thereabouts.

It's one reason why I love the 996 GT3 RS so much. It's just so no nonsense with the narrow body. Widebody is sexy, but it's also a bit shouty.

Generally really like the fact that the 996 is clean clean and uncluttered and indeed narrow bodied. For me that actually makes it closer to the original 911 ethos than the cars that have followed. Everyone gets hung up on the lights, but the 997 in manys ways is a step away from 911ness compared to the 996.
I agree with you, I never liked any 911 until I saw a 996 up close. Very smooth & purposeful looking.

There are good reasons Ruf uses the NB!
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:52 AM   #20
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It's humbling when your Porsche is out-powered by a highly tuned civic, or a stock WRX non-STi. I want more HP every time I take the box over the WRX
Why does it matter whether some ricer next to you can accelerate faster? Surely what matters is how enjoyable your car is to drive, period? Never understood this kind of thinking, seems you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. Don't care how fast other cars are, just care what the car I'm driving feels like. If it doesn't have the acceleration you want, fair enough. But don't understand what a Civic has to do with anything...

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