What's New for 2006
For 2006, Porsche adds an all-wheel-drive option to its latest version of 911, which was introduced last year. The all-wheel-drive models bear the expected Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S nameplates. More power will be available for the 2006 Porsche 911, as well, through a 381-horsepower Carrera power kit. Other changes this year include an improved navigation system, an optional electronic logbook, new 19-inch wheels, a tire-pressure monitoring system and an automatic cut-off switch for the front-passenger airbag. In other news, Porsche has phased out the Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models, which were available as carryovers from the 996 generation last year. Don't worry, new versions of these will show up in coming years.
A decade after designing the legendary Volkswagen, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche came up with a sports car derivative of his famous "people's car" called the 356. Light and sporty but notoriously underpowered, the 356 developed a loyal following throughout the 1950s and early '60s. Not wanting to offend their die-hard fans, Porsche executives decided a new model needed to be introduced for 1965 that could carry on the rear-engine tradition made famous by the 356. Ferdinand's son Ferry was commissioned with the task of designing the car, and the result was introduced to the world as the all-new 1965 Porsche 911.
Forty years later, the 911 is celebrated around the world as one of the most legendary sports cars ever built, and the Teutonic road warrior has been completely redesigned to commemorate the occasion. Porsche aficionados and the automotive press alike complained when an all-new 911 debuted in 1999 with slippery new styling and a liquid-cooled engine, claiming the car fell a little too far from the 911 family tree. There's no denying that from a performance standpoint, however, this latest generation of the Porsche 911 has been the best ever.
Last year, Porsche gave the 911 its first major update since '99. The updated 911 (commonly referred to as the "997") has a cleaner look to it while also containing some retro-themed style elements, such as upright round headlights and flared wheelwells. The interior is now a lot better in terms of comfort and style, and new high-tech options such as satellite navigation and a Bose surround-sound stereo make the German sports car a relatively practical choice for commuters with a need for speed. The standard power plant is a 3.6-liter flat six rated at 325 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while a new Carrera S model receives a 3.8-liter version of the same engine that produces 355 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Apart from the larger displacement, the S differs from the standard Carrera by the following standard equipment: an active suspension system, stability control, larger brakes with red calipers, 19-inch wheels instead of the Carrera's 18-inchers, bi-xenon headlamps, a sportier steering wheel, faux aluminum cabin trim and a silver-colored logo mounted on the rear deck lid. While the first of these new-generation 911 models were rear-drive coupes, 2006 has brought tenacious grip courtesy of an available all-wheel-drive system in the Carrera 4. You'll see new versions of the Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models in coming years. No matter which one you choose, few rivals can match the 2006 Porsche 911 in terms of performance, luxury and heritage.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2006 Porsche 911 is available as a coupe or a convertible (Cabriolet) body style. Four main models are available: the rear-wheel-drive Carrera and Carrera S and the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S. Base Carreras come with 18-inch wheels, full power accessories and automatic climate control. The S versions are more performance-oriented and have additional equipment like 19-inch wheels, active suspension management technology, larger brakes, bi-HID headlights, a sports steering wheel and unique exterior and interior trim. Should potential 911 buyers have additional money, Porsche conveniently offers a dizzying array of options on which to spend it. Highlights include high-performance ceramic disc brakes and a Sport Chrono package that records and displays lap times. For 2006, there's also a "Club Coupe" model that comes standard with most of the 911's go-fast hardware, including the 381-hp engine power package.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard 911 Carrera comes with a 3.6-liter horizontally opposed six good for 325 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. The next step up the performance ladder is the Carrera S, which has a 3.8-liter version of the boxer six rated for 355 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come standard with a six-speed manual transmission; a five-speed Tiptronic automatic is optional. An optional Carrera engine performance package boosts output to 381. Porsche claims that the regular Carrera can reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and we've timed the S model at 4.5. The all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S can divert anywhere from 5 to 40 percent of engine power to the front wheels for added grip.
Six airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes and stability control are included on all 911 models. An active suspension management system is optional on the Carrera, and standard on the Carrera S. A tire-pressure monitoring system is also available.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Cayenne-inspired interior of the 2006 Porsche 911 features a single-pod gauge cluster and supportive bucket seats. Also standard is a nine-speaker sound system, but a 13-speaker Bose surround-sound system is optional for true audiophiles. Large footwells and a steering column that tilts and telescopes create more head- and legroom than previous generations. Optional amenities include heated memory seats with pneumatically adjustable cushions and backrests.
Driven at normal speeds the 911 delivers a firm but mostly pleasant ride that's suitable for daily commutes, but the growl of the flat six behind the driver is a welcome reminder that this is no vanilla passenger car. Lay into the power, and the Porsche 911 comes alive. The variable-rate steering feels slightly numb at certain speeds, but turns in with precision and is largely unaffected by uneven tarmac. The brakes are powerful, and respond promptly thanks to a large booster and optional composite rotors. It requires a skilled driver to extract the car's full potential, but thanks to the Porsche Active Suspension Management system, even those who only scratch the surface will be thrilled with the results.