PCCM+ IN-DEPTH REVIEW
Porsche’s Classic Communication Management Plus brings modern connectivity to the 20-year-old 996 – but is it worth the investment?
Ask any owner of a classic Porsche and they will likely tell you its greatest appeal is its rudimentary approach to the sports car concept, offering a driving purity that’s vastly removed from the technological creep (or is it override?) prevalent in contemporary rivals today. Juxtaposed to this notion of unfiltered driving purity though is the need for connectivity on the move: it is simply a must-have in our modern world. Whether in a modern or classic Porsche, we rely on technology to help navigate us on the road, communicate safely with friends, and listen to our favourite media, be it a podcast, playlist, or radio.
While new 911s of course have this covered as part of its factory specification, Porsche Classic has, since 2018, sought to bring similar levels of connectivity to older vehicles. Porsche Classic Communication Management was introduced as a 1-DIN unit with 3.5inch touchscreen for air-cooled cars, slotting straight into the dashboard as a replacement for the factory unit. A huge commercial success, Porsche Classic has now evolved the concept, providing a solution for the first water-cooled 911 in the 996.
Porsche Classic Communication Management Plus is a development of that original, now in 2-DIN format and boasting a seven-inch, high-resolution touchscreen, bringing modern functions such as DAB+, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and onboard navigation to the manufacturer’s youngest classic. Replacing the original PCM 1.0 (for Gen1 cars) or PCM 2.0 (for Gen2s) units, which are now merely a technological relic sitting centrally in the 996’s dashboard, PCCM+ offers a direct swap, available via your preferred Porsche dealer.
A reflection of the march in both automotive and communications technology over the last two decades, the PCCM+ unit is both lighter and more advanced than the one it is replacing. Additionally, the new system does away with the navigation CD player which came with PCM 1.0 and 2.0, saving further weight. Its replacement is a neat cubby hole, perfect for placing a modern smartphone, and also where the PCCM+ phone, AUX and additional USB charging ports now live. You simply connect your smartphone to the PCCM+ unit, place it in the handy cubby hole, and just forget about it until you leave the vehicle.
The PCCM+ fascia looks great, its two rotary knobs taking the exact appearance of those found in 996 Gen2s with PCM 2.0. They are nicely weighted to turn, and a neat row of buttons (indicated tuner, nav, phone, etc) between them offer a similarly positive measure of resistance when pushed, their profile and text font notably similar to those found on the 991’s modern PCM system. It’s a great mix of
modern and classic, and ensures that the PCCM+ looks right at home within the confines of the 996’s dash. Elsewhere in terms of hardware, a microphone is mounted discreetly on the 996’s steering column, and a small GPS box is affixed atop the dashboard, at the base of the drivers-side ‘A’ pillar.
Turn your 996’s key in its ignition and while that M96 out back offers that familiar, bassy thrum of a modern-classic 911, the vibrant colours and beautiful animations displayed on the PCCM+ screen on startup indicate its readiness to take you firmly back into the modern world of infotainment.
The touchscreen is wonderfully responsive to scrolling, tapping and pinching applications, the system itself being fast and intuitive – exactly as a modern infotainment system should be. Its layout and application is almost identical to the system found in 991.2s, Apple Carplay working seamlessly to allow us to select a route on our preferred navigation app, Waze, before pulling up a podcast on Spotify. The PCCM+ unit’s own navigation is well presented and clear to follow, its 3D maps adding a welcome layer of detail that would have been simply unimaginable on the archaic PCM 1.0 housed in our 996 just a few hours earlier.
Positives of the new system’s practicalities extend from its visual to the audio experience, too. Voice commands to Siri are easily detected and swiftly acted upon, even when contending with the 996’s typically loud rolling tyre noise above 60mph. Similarly, the recipient of an outgoing call made with our 996 cruising at motorway speeds confirmed conversation of crystal clarity from inside the car, though we’d have liked to have been able to knock the volume up a touch from our side, though this wasn’t an issue below 50mph.
The cost for all of this in the UK is £1,465 (inc VAT) for the PCCM+ unit and navigation SD card. Depending on whether your 996 originally had PCM or not, an additional tray may be required (at minimal cost) to replace the outgoing navigation CD unit, which is where, as we mentioned earlier, a technician will install the small box containing AUX and USB ports, as well as the USB input for your smartphone connection. Porsche quotes 3.2 hours book time to install PCCM+, giving you a final price of around £2,258 (inc VAT) including fitting and installation.
Expensive? Yes, especially in comparison to an aftermarket equivalent, though these tend not to fit as well, and their ultra modern appearance (often merely a digital touchscreen devoid of any buttons) can look jarring against the rest of the 996’s millennium-era interior. Additionally, the presence of an aftermarket unit can pose questions for others when it comes to selling, too. Has the wiring been done properly?
Is a 911 with an aftermarket headunit as desirable as factory specification? PCCM+ allays both fears in that regard. In fact, we’d argue it actually increases desirability of the vehicle, and fitting at a Porsche dealership ensures high standards are upheld when it comes to the care and installation of the product.
Without doubt, this is a game-changing development from Porsche Classic: this is simply a brilliant solution to allow owners of the first water-cooled 911, many of whom use their car every day, to fully indulge in every practical aspect of their sports car experience, without compromise, while on the move. The PCCM+ unit is simply a must-have addition for the Porsche 996, and owners of the 997 should be excited by the very high probability that such a system will soon be available for their 911 too.