August '004, Car and Driver first impressions of 997S Variable-Ratio steering in South Africa:

Our only puzzlement concerns the steering . Because the variable-ratio steering is lighter and slightly less direct around the straight-ahead, the immediacy and linearity of responses in that crucial first movement off-center, so taken for granted by longtime 911 drivers, are reduced. We spent day one confused by the rack's messages, even admitting to missing the constant jiggling of the old model's wheel, a 911 peculiarity for more than 40 years.

By the end of the second day, after belting the S over the challenging Franschhoek Pass and tapping into the car's greater agility at the limit, taking advantage of its superior grip and more adjustable handling, we'd come to terms with the new setup. Everywhere beyond the first 30 degrees of wheel movement, the steering is quicker and more precise. Body control is brilliant. The car stays flat, linking corners in a series of incisive, flowing movements, the suspension soaking up bumps and surface changes that would upset the previous 911's poise. Why, even the characteristic vertical bobbing at the nose has disappeared.

The 911 Carrera is now faster, more stable, more precise and more forgiving, an altogether superior--make that more efficient--sports car than the 996. Still, we suspect this anesthetizing of traditional Porsche traits--flaws, if you must--will be missed by some obsessive 911 drivers.