2003 Porsche 911 Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Porsche 911

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Porsche 911 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.6 L Flat 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Rear Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 315 hp @ 6800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 16/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2003 Porsche 911

  • With a drive this entertaining, it's no wonder that the 2003 Porsche 911 has so many fans.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Sizzling performance, tenacious handling, legendary reputation.

  • Cons

    Interior quality doesn't match sticker price, outlandish option prices.

  • What's New for 2003

    Porsche finally puts a standard CD player in the 2003 Porsche 911. Five horsepower are mysteriously lost in non-Turbo 911s, meaning output is "only" 315 horses now.

Full 2003 Porsche 911 Review

What's New for 2003

Porsche finally puts a standard CD player in the 2003 Porsche 911. Five horsepower are mysteriously lost in non-Turbo 911s, meaning output is "only" 315 horses now.


Debuting in 1964 as a replacement for the aging 356 series, the Porsche 911 kept the basic Porsche tenets intact -- light weight, an air-cooled engine hung out aft of the rear wheels and a no-nonsense cockpit. The fearsome Turbo debuted in 1976 and, along with its blinding acceleration, sometimes taught overzealous or inexperienced (or both) drivers the meaning of drop-throttle oversteer -- a tendency for the tail to swing around if the driver jumps off the gas. During subsequent years, Porsche steadily increased power but also fine-tuned the suspension to the point that only the foolhardy could get into trouble while piloting the sharp-handling 911.

In 1999, the 911 underwent its first all-out "clean-sheet" redesign since its introduction in the mid-'60s. The new age 911 was slightly longer, wider and sleeker than any previous version. That year also saw a switch to a water-cooled version of the flat six, a seeming improvement from the standpoint of more efficient engine cooling and cabin climate control. But not everyone agreed; some car buffs flew the Porsche flag at half-mast. These diehards were afraid that some of the car's character was lost with the disappearance of the air-cooled design and its unique sound. They were partially right; even though the "new" 911's performance was impressive, the engine and exhaust were too subdued. Last year, along with more power was brought a better soundtrack that resurrected the intoxicating, metallic throbbing and full exhaust note that are unmistakably 911.

What's not to like? With MSRPs ranging from nearly $70,000 to $180,000, the Porsche heritage still includes sapping a big bundle of cash out of your wallet. The company also charges a fortune for many of the 911's options. But if you're looking for supercar performance in a legendary package, it's tough to top the 2003 Porsche 911.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

There are six 2003 Porsche 911 models: the Carrera Coupe and Carrera Cabriolet, the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 Coupe and Carrera 4 Cabriolet, the 911 Turbo and the 911 GT2. A huge list of options allows one to personalize their 911 with different wheels and interior trim. Be forewarned, however, that it's all too easy to jack up the price of a 911; some of the options can cost more than $7,000. We do recommend the stability control (PSM) option that can help prevent the car from skidding or spinning out of control.

Powertrains and Performance

Standard 911s have a 3.6-liter, rear-mounted, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine that produces 315 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The Turbo's figures jump to 415 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. For $65,000 more than the Turbo, the GT2 offers 456 wild horses and 450 lb-ft of twist in a car that's 221 pounds lighter. This road rocket comes only in rear-wheel drive and doesn't have Porsche's stability control system. In other words, only highly skilled (and wealthy) drivers need apply.

Porsche offers the choice of either a six-speed manual or a five-speed Tiptronic S automanual transmission on all models except the GT2, which comes only with the manual gearbox.

All-wheel drive as well as stability control (PSM) is found on Carrera 4 and Turbo models. PSM is optional on the other 911s except for the GT2.


Side airbags and ABS are standard on all 911 models. Stability control comes on the Carrera 4 and Turbo and is optional on all the other 911s except for the GT2. No crash tests score were available for the 911 as of this writing.

Interior Design and Special Features

In spite of its lofty price tag, some of the 911's interior components could use some work. The control stalks feel flimsy and the lone cupholder is mounted too high, which could result in a spilt soda. Lastly, the sunroof opening is rather small, though one could buy a 911 Carrera Targa with its essentially oversized sunroof.

Driving Impressions

Driven sedately, the muscle-bound 2003 Porsche 911 is docile and easy to drive. But stab the throttle and the car blasts through the first four gears like a roller coaster rushing downhill, with the urgent song of the flat six at full cry. Speed is reigned in quickly by easily modulated and incredibly powerful brakes that feel as though they could stop a semi in short order.

The 911 is equally at ease running through various turns, possessing dead neutral poise that belies the rear-engine architecture. The steering has a reassuring heft and plenty of feedback that allows one to easily settle into a rhythm.

In the ugly reality of rush-hour traffic, however, one quickly realizes why so many people opt for automatics in their sports cars. Work the 911's heavy clutch enough and you might expect your left leg to resemble Arnold's in his bodybuilding heyday. Fortunately, Porsche offers its Tiptronic-style automatic transmission as an option.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

A decade of porsches are

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S AWD 2dr Coupe (3.6L 6cyl 6M)

Forget your prejudices about Porsches and German engineering. With the 996 and the Boxster (water cooled Porsches for over a decade until 2009) Porsche built and sold a car it knew had a self-destructive intermediate shaft bearing that could easily and without visible warning destroy the engine on any car, and has not issued a recall to correct the design defect. It has also not recalled the more common leaky main bearing seal. This is especially egregious because the 996 has the highest gross profit margin of any automobile ever in production. They could have replaced every engine on every 996 sold and still made a handsome profit. And yes, it is a hoot to drive.

7 of 26 people found this review helpful

Miss high maintenance

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S AWD 2dr Coupe (3.6L 6cyl 6M)

With respect to reliability, the car has been disappointing: close to $500 to fix a burned out xenon bulb; a failed rear main seal (a universal problem in 996s, 911s built from 1998- 2008, I have since found out, a lemon by any other name); failed sport exhaust cutout; failed radiators and there are 2 of them; increasingly stiff and notchy shifter; fractured dash trim (due to age) etc. Honoring the warranty has been reasonable. Noise and ride can be intolerable at times. Totally lacking in balanced handling, compared say to a Boxster or Miata, especially dangerous in very high speed curves, when camber and rear weight bias can combine to give it Corvair (or original VW Beetle) characteristics

The perfect used porsche

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera Rwd 2dr Coupe (3.6L 6cyl 6M)

I love this car. 15 Porsches this by far my favorite. I was a purist not getting a water cooled 911. Quality of materials, dependable, fast (with K&N and Italian exhaust) decent ride, find one with the optional sport seat, these are really comfy.

996's are the value of

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera Rwd 2dr Coupe (3.6L 6cyl 6M)

I bought my 911 on 9/11 from an individual who had babied it. It only had 13K miles when I bought it 5 years old, so essentially I got all the experience the first owner had when it was new at about 1/3 of the original price. 996's, especially the later ones, like this one, are very underrated, mainly because of the different shape of the headlights. Let me say this - when you're cruising down the road and going through the gears, you're in a Porsche. Period. It is still a work of art, a marvel of technology and a high performance race car all rolled into one. I bought an extended warranty from Easy Care just in case, but haven't had to use it. Great value on quintessential sports car!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

The every-day super car

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S AWD 2dr Coupe (3.6L 6cyl 6M)

I bought a blue '03 C4S in Jan '08 with a 6-sp man & 64,000 miles on the odometer. Factory MSRP was over $82K (with destination), but I got it for 40. I had concerns 'cuz of the mileage, but it looked great, everything worked, the leather smelled new and the car rode as solid as a brinks truck. Having used it as a daily driver for 11 months, I can report that handling is phenomenal on a dry road (even with AWD and PSM, the car will spin if pushed in the wet), acceleration is sublime and the brakes are in a class of their own. The tear of the flat-6 when the revs pass 4000 makes the driver feel like he's in a race car. The C4S's gorgeous turbo-style body draws envious stares.

Pure fun

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera Rwd 2dr Cabriolet (3.6L 6cyl 6M)

I have had sports cars in the past; corvettes, BMW M3, 500SL. NOTHING comes close to the pure fun of a Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Everybody else on the road is there only for you to pass them. Takes the corners impossibly well. Exterior design that you never get tired of. I have had Mercedes for many years and I am impressed with the ergonomic design and build quality of Porsche, absolutely on a par with MB (or better). If you have never driven a 911, you dont know what you are missing. I will say that I test drove a couple of coupes and really didn't fall in love until I drove the cabriolet. Top down is a car driving sensory overload.

Talk About The 2003 911

2003 Porsche 911 Discussions See all Started By

I am taking the last few careful steps before I own a Porsche. I am debating between a 2005 Boxster Conv and 2003 911(996) Carrera cab(RWD). My heart is for the latter (cant afford a new 911 though). ...

1) My 2003 911 is a coupe. I haven't driven the 997 Cab, but I have driven the 996 Cab. The 987S is definitely a more nimble car, but the 996 Cab has more utter nerve. What I always find consistent is...

I came out of a Boxster S (2003) and was considering both the Cayman S and 911 C2S. I have previously taken performance driving courses and will be going back to take Porsche's advanced level course ...

Gas Mileage


  • 16
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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