Few could have feasibly predicted it beforehand, but 2015 has undoubtedly been the year of the 996. Historic stories of the generation being unloved are plentiful, though after values of the 996 GT3 RS and both GT3 generations rocketed north in 2014, enthusiasts this year turned to the Turbo as the last bastion of afordable Mezgerengined thrills. As such, these too have seen values increase: what was a £25,000 supercar is now pushing £50,000 for a clean example, which places the humble 996 Turbo directly onto the heels of its younger 997 Turbo brethren.
While the 996 Turbo has appreciated, values of the Gen1 997 Turbo have remained strong. Boasting an extra 60bhp and more modern aesthetics, the 997 makes for an attractive option to those courting the famed Turbo experience, even though its forecast as an immediate investment isn’t quite as rosy – for now. The Turbo market has been squeezed as a consequence, though the upshot is there are currently plenty of options available to a buyer with around £50,000 to spend. But while flames of the 996 v 997 Turbo debate continue to be fanned by respective owners, there is an oft-ignored yet particularly special car available for similar money: the 996 Turbo S. Boasting a production run of just 1,500 units, the 996 Turbo S came at the very end of the 996 production cycle in 2005, and was given the fullhouse treatment of options.
The 996 Turbo S is powered by a 3.6-litre twin turbocharged engine with double overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder and dry sump lubrication, just like its 996 Turbo counterpart. The engine is fitted with VarioCam Plus, a further development of the familiar VarioCam system, which changes both the intake camshaft timing (by as much as 25°) as well as the intake valve lift. Fitted with bigger turbos as part of the X50 Powerkit – standard on the Turbo S – power was boosted to 450bhp and the car’s top speed broke through that magic 300km/h barrier, boasting a maximum of 190mph (307km/h) and placing it firmly in supercar territory. The Turbo S was given Porsche’s ceramic brakes with tell-tale yellow calipers, beefing up the car’s stopping performance.
Porsche stated at the time of launch that the ventilated and drilled ceramic discs would last for an astonishing 186,000 miles. These ceramic brake discs were made of carbon fibre fused with silicon carbide, and being 50 per cent lighter than the steel discs, significantly reduced unsprung mass and thereby improved the car’s handling. The 996 Turbo S was also fitted with the latest Bosch ABS 5.7 anti-lock braking system. Well equipped it may have been at launch, but for the 2005 model year, Porsche was already ofering models from the new 997 generation. This might have seemed like an odd mix of products, but as Kish Hirani, owner of our feature Turbo S commented, this worked in favour of some buyers: “Fortunately, this is one reason I could aford the Turbo S because it was the outgoing model, as Porsche had already moved to the 997. Because Porsche wanted to sell these Turbos as the last 996 model, they threw everything into the Turbo S.”
The Turbo S was available in either Coupe or Cabriolet form – in fact, the open version was produced in far greater numbers (963 units) than the closed car (600 units). Selling for around £100,000 when new, the 996 Turbo S took an awful hit in the market in the years that followed, dropping down to as little as £30,000 by 2012. Now, wedged between the many 996 and 997 Turbos on the market, how does a 996 Turbo S fare from a driver’s point of view ten years from launch? Climbing into the cockpit, it’s easy to notice that the interior (near identical to that of the Turbo) is built with lavishness in mind. Swathes of leather abound and the standard Turbo seats are superbly comfortable, with adequate lateral support on the seat squab, keeping its occupant firmly in place in those tight corners. The dashboard and centre console is a work of art, exuding a neat combination of contemporary style with a simplicity that has been lost on later iterations. It is not over-complicated with a fussy setup of buttons and switches, but is well laid out and attractive.