1998 Porsche 911 Review
Pros & Cons
- One of the most beautiful shapes in automotive history. Performance is equal to that of supercars costing twice as much.
- Next year's model has been completely redesigned.
Edmunds' Expert Review
This is the final year of production for the current generation of the Porsche 911. Next year's 911 (known internally as the 996), is more aerodynamic, faster, lighter, more powerful and less expensive. So why bother with a '98? That's what a lot of people are asking, and that's the reason 911 sales have dropped significantly from last year's figures. Next year's car sports an all-new water-cooled engine and a longer wheelbase, among a hundred other improvements. But the next-generation 911 also looks a lot like the Boxster, with which it shares a few parts, so the 1998 911 is the last year for traditionalists.
Anyone accustomed to driving in ho-hum fashion and steering with a lazy finger should steer clear of Porsches completely. To operate a 911, much less seize the maximum from its potential, demands effort. You have to pay attention. Manipulate the clutch and gears with skill and caution, and you're rewarded with an unrivaled motoring experience.
Acceleration is simply phenomenal, provided that you stay in each gear for a suitable span of time, and avoid letting the rear-mounted engine over-rev. No one could ask for a sweeter gearshift lever; one that traverses through six speeds by way of long, visceral flicks of the wrist. The stiff clutch demands a strong foot, but engages gracefully.
Everybody knows that handling is Porsche's prime talent, but you must experience it to believe. Steering doesn't require a lot of effort, but you feel every last imperfection from the pavement in the steering wheel, never losing intimate kinship with the road. Sixteen-inch tires grasp the road like pincers, while 17- and even 18-inchers are available for the hard-to-please. Brake response is astounding.
In the city or on rough roads, the ride gets harsh; even shaky. Yet on the highway, a 911 is surprisingly comfortable. The car attempts to ride right over the top of bumps to maintain the best possible grip.
Back support couldn't be better, in a superlative driving position. Seats feel molded to your body; the point of perfection between stiffness and softness. The driver faces a big 8000 rpm tach head-on. To the side sits a 180-mph speedometer; a realistic figure, since the base 911 can reach 168 mph.
As for criticisms, the gearbox doesn't like to shift into reverse, an annoyance that could be avoided by selecting a Porsche with Tiptronic transmission. Engine and tire noise can get downright screechy, though Porsche fanatics revere such commotion. Grievances pale, however, in comparison with the car that has almost reached perfection. Fantastic handling, created to enhance the joy of driving, this precision machine stands near the pinnacle of sports-car excellence.