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SEE ALSO: Porsche Buyer's Guide

1996 PORSCHE 911 CARRERA

By Matt/Bob Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 67,015
     Price As Tested                                    $ 69,797
     Engine Type                             3.6 Liter F6 w/EFI*
     Engine Size                                 220 cid/3600 cc
     Horsepower                                   282 @ 6300 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               250 @ 5250 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   89.5"/68.3"/167.8"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3165 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  19.4 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)             205/50ZR17 front - 255/40ZR17 rear
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.33

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/24/20          
     0-60 MPH                                        6.8 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     14.2 seconds @ 99.8 mph
     Top Speed (Est.)                                        N/A

     * Electronic fuel injection

(The Porsche 911 is an old design, having first hit the streets of the U.S. in 1964. Bob Hagin was there when the car was introduced to the press and he likes the new one much better. His son Matt wasn't around when the 911 first came out but he does remember that those early models required lots of respect when driven fast.)

MATT - The Porsche 911 Carrera is an anachronism, Dad. It's the last car sold here that mounts its engine behind the rear axle line. That's the way Porsches were when they were first produced in volume in 1950 and now that the front-engined 968 and 928 models have been dropped from the U.S. lineup, the company has gone back to its roots.

BOB - When your brother Tom reviewed the Carrera last year, he commented that the then-new rear suspension system took the "twitchiness" out of driving it at speed. With the first version of the 911, you were always aware of the fact that it was a mechanical primadonna that always demanded respect.

MATT - The Carrera we had wasn't nearly as touchy as those first ones, but it's still a car that must be driven carefully. The 3.6 liter flat-six engine was given a 12 horsepower advantage this year. The increase is due to several hot-rod tricks that Porsche engineers used, like larger valves and a redesigned intake manifold. Besides having slightly less power, the car Tom tested was equipped with the manual six-speed transmission. The Tiptronic S automatic that's used in this car probably reduces performance a bit, but I couldn't have told the difference. It's a four-speed that can be operated like an automatic or the gears can be selected manually. There's a traditional lever that sprouts from the floor between the seats but the gearbox can also be controlled by a couple of toggle switches on the steering wheel. You can just flick a switch up or down to change gears.

BOB - Porsche was instrumental in the development of the button- operated automatic transmission that's standard equipment in all the modern Formula One race cars, Matt, so I guess it's natural that the company would use the system in its production car. Shifting up and down is very crisp and aside from the lack of a clutch pedal, it's almost impossible to distinguish its performance from a stick-shift.

MATT - To keep things safe when the road's slippery, Porsche uses a neat transaxle system that combines the locking differential with the brake system, which gently applies the brakes of the wheel that's spinning, but it only operates at speeds below 40 MPH. And as great as this standard Carrera handles, a buyer can order it with a couple of additionl performance options like heavier sway bars and assorted other handling pieces.

BOB - The steering doesn't need any upgrading, however. It goes from lock to lock in only two-and-a half turns which keeps drivers on their toes. The wheel and tire sizes are different front to rear, which is common performance car practice, but it would make it tough the carry a spare for each end. They're both 17 inches tall, but the front wheels are seven inches wide while the rears are 19. And if these aren't big enough, the buyer has the option of going for 18-inch wheels and fatter tires on both ends.

MATT - As exotic as this car is, it's really surprising that the factory only recommends changing the oil and its filer every 100,000 and the recommended oil is a synthetic. Actually the engine has two oil filters, but the second one only comes into play when the engine is hot. I read a report somewhere that says while the oil is only to be changed after 100 K, the Carrera may use a quart every 2800 miles or so.

BOB - That's true, Matt, but Porsche owners aren't the type to neglect checking the oil, especially in view of the fact that this Carrera is the least expensive in the line and it goes for $68,000.

MATT - Dad, we haven't even discussed the interior space, seating capacity or trunk capacity of the Carrera and we're already out if time.

BOB - I know but somehow I don't think that the grocery-carrying capacity of this car is of prime importance to potential buyers, Matt.

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