Philip Raby Porsche

Porsche Sales and Service

Porsche 997 or 996 Carrera 4S

Porsche 997 or 996 Carrera 4S

It’s a question I’m often asked – and ask myself: What’s the best buy, a Porsche 997 Carrera or a 996 Carrera 4S? You can pick up either for about the same money – under £25,000.

It’s a tough one. The logical choice as to be 997, as it’s the newer and more modern Porsche with, everyone says, the better looks and better interior. And early 997s are getting very affordable, with high-mileage 2004 examples touching £20,000. However, I usually steer people away from super-low-priced Porsches – they’re cheap for a reason. It’s usually better to pay a bit more for a well-maintained example in good condition.

Which takes us to the 996 Carrera 4S. You can pick up a beautiful example with a proper service history for well under our £25,000 budget. OK, you get the previous-generation 911 but you do get a relatively rare (and sought after) model with a great-looking rear end. As for the interior, well I rather like the 996 dashboard and, dare I say, in some ways prefer it to the fussier-looking 997 version.

The cars offer a similar driving experience. The 997 has the edge, but the 996 Carrera 4S is my favourite of the 996 Carreras to drive, as it has the benefit of Turbo suspension and brakes – which make more of a difference than you’d expect.

Finally, I know it’s a cliche, but will the 996 Carrera 4S become a future classic that people want to own? Possibly, but don’t expect to use one as a retirement fund.

Which would I choose? You know, I’m not sure! 🙂



  • Philip says:

    The 996 still sounds a lot better with the PSE and with the full Option of leather and carbon etc. the interior looks also perfect!
    The 997 MK1 was at the interior not so perfect e.g. the Plastic of the Radio or the really thin leather at the dashboard.

    At the end the 996 (MK2) looks also different and not so “same” as the others!.

  • MIKE says:

    Next to my 996 4s the basic 997 doesnt say much,
    Even they share the same width, 4s look much more impressive especially from behind.
    AWD and better brakes also is another point.
    Interior definately belongs to 997

  • SAM DACOSTA says:

    Last year I relished that same question for myself, as I was ready to purchase another Porsche. I ended up choosing a C4S, which was well maintained with dealer documented maintenance. So for me it was the 996 C4S. Why? The styling of the rear end, suspension and braking won me over the 997.

  • Sebastian says:

    The 996, because it is based on the turbo, especially the brakes are a big plus. The rear looks also better and the PSE in this car is the best stock exhaust porsche ever made.

  • Ferleinix says:


    I was in the same decision! After my old 996 have the “normal” motor failure.
    The choise between the 996 Turbo and the 997 S.
    After a lot of test drive in different areas I take the 997!

    And after the trip over the Grand Alpes; the choise was perfect!

    Take the 997, better take a 997 S!

    Come to Germany OS, and I will show it to you 🙂

    Best regards

  • Dennis says:

    I love my 996 4S. Better materials, better looking dash, nothing worn out even after 14 years. I went with the Tiptronic since no one is too likely to beat on it as much as a 6 speed and at my age, I find it much more versitile, especially in stop and go traffic. Easy to work on, easy to do the maintenance items they need to have done. Both cars have IMS as do all 911’s in some form until 2009. For the money, for me, an easy choice to own a 996 4S.

  • Christian Kay says:

    Sense and owner feedback says 997 everytime. Non-turbo 996 engine just a ticking time bomb which is a shame as you are so right about C4S rear looking great.

    If you’re sold on C4S just be sure to put aside potentially thousands for engine failure prevention/repair costs. It is potentially a future classic.

    However 997 is a far more modern vehicle in every way from styling, safety, reliability and interior (although I prefer 996 interior style).

    Fried egg headlamps on 996 are a turn off for many buyers. A friend who owns a 996 Turbo with the more reliable Mezger engine has spent a few thousand on the 997-style headlamp conversion which was more work than he expected but the outcome was worth it especially at night with the HID/LED upgrade.

    My choice would be a 997 Carerra 4 or 4S with manual transmission.

  • Philip says:

    Thanks for your comments. Actually, the 996 and 997 have essentially the same engine, with the same potential issues. However, the good news is that engine problems are very rare with either car, despite what you may read on the Internet and in some magazines. We have never, ever had a major issue with any 996 or 997 engine (nor, indeed a Boxster or Cayman). My advice is to buy whichever car you prefer and enjoy it. 🙂

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