Review and photos by
Chris Chase, CanadianDriver.com
The 2005 Porsche 911 marked something of a return to the traditional for this storied sports car. Gone were the controversial “fried egg” headlight clusters of the previous generation (the 996), and the overall styling of this car, code-named the 997, was more reminiscent of the 993 car – the last air-cooled 911 – which had been replaced in 1999.
In 2005, base-model 997 cars used a 3.6-litre flat-six engine making 325 horsepower, while the sportier S models got a 3.8-litre engine making 355 hp. The mighty 911 Turbo was a carry-over model in 2005, riding on the previous-generation platform until 2007. The 997 Turbo got a 480-horsepower, twin-turbo version of the 3.6-litre engine.
All-wheel drive models joined the line-up in 2006, and in 2007, the glass-roofed Targa arrived, offered exclusively with all-wheel drive. The 2007 lineup also included the 911 GT3, a lightweight, racing-inspired model powered by a high-revving, naturally-aspirated version of the 3.6-litre engine. In 2008, the even more potent GT2 arrived, with its 530-hp (!) twin-turbo 3.6-litre engine.
All 911 models came standard with a six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed “Tiptronic S” automatic was an option in most 911 models, while the GT2 and GT3 models were sold with manual transmissions only.
For all of the 911’s performance potential, fuel consumption is surprisingly low. Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide rates the 2005 base 911 Carrera at 12.8/8.2 L/100 km (city/highway). All-wheel drive and uplevel S models use a little more, of course, but even the Turbo is fairly frugal, posting consumption numbers of 13.3/8.5 L/100 km (city/highway) in 2008. In fact, the nutty GT2 is the only car that tends to be really thirsty in normal driving, with a city rating of 18.8 L/100 km; on the highway, this 2008 model was rated at 8.9 L/100 km.
Consumer Reports has incomplete reliability data on the 911 (this is a low-volume car, after all), but the information it does offer shows the car to be average to below-average as a used car buy. According to CR, trouble spots vary, depending on what model year you’re considering.
One well-documented issue with recent Porsche engines is that of failure-prone intermediate shafts. This affects the 911 and other models powered by the brand’s vaunted flat-six motors. Here’s a video showing a worn intermediate shaft bearing from a Boxster engine. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvLRMGs-Ti8) A Google search for “997 intermediate shaft” brings up several hits from Porsche forums and other websites.
Some 2005 S models had piston ring issues caused by frequent high engine speeds.
Long crank times when starting a 997 might be normal, caused by the engine management system’s anti-flood function, which shuts off the fuel injectors if flooding is sensed during start-up.
Leaking rear main engine oil seals are a common problem, despite a redesigned seal for 997 cars that should have fixed a similar issue that affected the previous-generation 911.
Consumer Reports lists “gear selector or linkage” as a frequent trouble spot in its Transmission – Minor category, but I couldn’t find any details on the web.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has crash-tested the 911.
Canadian Black Book lists 997 values as ranging from $50,825 for a 2005 911 Carrera2 coupe, to $155,975 for a 2008 GT2; a 2007 911 Carrera4S coupe is worth $70,500.
Real-world pricing for cars like the 911 can sometimes differ from the values suggested by publications like Canadian Black Book, but not always. CBB lists the price for a 2006 Carrera2 coupe as $58,475, while, a similar car was posted for sale (at publication time) at RennSport.ca for $52,000. Expect predicted values for higher-end models like the Turbo, GT2 and GT3 to be lower than real-world prices, though.
As exotics go, a 911 is on the tame end of the scale, bringing everyday usefulness, comfort and reliability to a class that’s otherwise full of temperamental supercars. Like most cars, the 911 isn’t perfect, so do your research before you buy, particularly in terms of long-term maintenance and potential repair costs.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) November, 2010:
|Year||Model||Price today||Price new|
Despite assertions by some Porsche drivers that many 911 owners spend too much time enjoying their cars to bother with Porsche forums, there are still several good ones out there. 6SpeedOnline.com and Rennlist.com both have good 911 sections, though Rennlist doesn’t provide a dedicated 997 discussion area. The forums at PelicanParts.com lump the 997 into a section with the older 996. Roadfly.com provides a 997-specific section, but the forum layout can make it tough to follow a thread. The Porsche Club of America is a terrific resource for owners, with a Tech Q&A section where Porsche experts answer questions. The downside is that you have to pay to become a member to benefit from the site’s extensive knowledge base.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006007; Units affected: 291
2005-2006: On certain vehicles, an inadequate weld on the exhaust system could allow the tailpipe to detach while the vehicle is in motion; this could startle the driver and/or endanger other road users. Correction: Dealers will replace the tailpipe.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2007393; Units affected: 2
2008: Certain vehicles may contain a defective switch console for the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Traction Control (TC-Off) switches. The LEDs in the switches can signal a function change in the PASM mode or the deactivation of Traction Control even though the switches were not actuated. Should these systems be inadvertently disabled, their safety benefits would be unavailable to the driver, which could increase the possibility of a crash during aggressive driving manoeuvres. Correction: Dealers will replace the switch console.
Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.
Chris Chase is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).