When is it going?

When is it going?

There is an all new 911 on the way (model designation 997) and, according to Porsche, it shares only the roof panel with the outgoing 996 model. It arrives some time in October, but the queue is likely to be of epic proportions unless you paid your deposit early. A new 911 is always cause for celebration, but that doesn't mean the old ones instantly become orphans. Enthusiasts will still want a 996 and the good news is that they won't have to wait long.

What's good about it?

Legend and icon are words that are far too often bandied about when it comes to describing a sports car. In the case of the 911, though, they are appropriate. The 996 was different from other 911s with its water-cooled engine and friendly handling. The balance is now about perfect, meaning that the huge amount of power available can be used to maximum effect. It really is the closest you will get to driving a racing car on the road. This is undoubtedly the easiest 911 to drive and own.

What's bad about it?

The 996 isn't everyone's idea of what a 911 should look or be like with its Boxster lights and water-cooled 3.4-litre heart. There may be nothing worse than posing in a 996 Cabriolet and being mistaken for a Boxster that cost half the price. What the snobbier Porsche purists also hate is the fact that the 911 is easy to drive.

How much?

Discount and 911 have rarely been in the same sentence. Buying left-hand drive from Europe saves about £7,000. Ian Forster (0191 537 1155) has immediate delivery models, with prices starting at £54,999 for the basic C2 Coupé - £56,610 from a Porsche showroom. Also check the classified ads.

Any snags?

Generally the 996 is reliable, although the electrics can play up from the electric window motors to, more commonly, the instrument pack. Modern water-based paint peppers off all too easily. It eats tyres, especially rears and they cost more than £120.

FACT FILE

Launched: 1998

Engine: 3.4, 3.6, 3.6 Turbo

Performance: 3.6 Turbo top speed 189mph

0-60mph in 4.2 seconds

Economy: 21.9mpg

NCAP: Never tested.

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