Review: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
As if the new 911 didn't have all the sportscar bragging rights it needed, it now has AWD too
Last year when we met Porsche engineers at the global drive of the new 911, they insisted they could change a lot about the new car – engine position, for example – but didn’t because then it would not be a 911 anymore.
Fair enough, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped them from bringing in an all-wheel-drive with the last-generation car, although it was considered sacrilege by the purists, being the classic rear-wheel-drive that it is. Well, 34 per cent of Porsche owners went for the all-wheel-drive version, so it was a good idea after all.
At the heart of it all is the Porsche Traction Management in its latest avatar. This is based on the same system as in the 911 Turbo, with power essentially going to the rear wheels, and the front wheels joining the party when needed. It’s a clever system, so insanely quick with its reactions that it’s almost impossible for an average human to even perceive.
Visually, and typical of all 911s, there is very little to differentiate a regular Carrera from a Carrera 4S except at the rear. Place them next to each other and you will notice the all-wheel-drive has much bigger wheel haunches than the rear-wheel-drive version. If you do not have a two-wheel-drive 911 to compare, then the tail-lights are a clear giveaway. The 4S has a slim light panel just below the rear wing that connects the two tail-lights.
In all-wheel-drive, the new 911 is available in two engine options for both the coupe and the cabriolet. Featured here is the more powerful 3.8-litre flat-six petrol engine that churns out 400bhp. In the normal Carrera 4 version, there is a 3.4-litre unit that doles out around 50 horses less.
Obviously, a raucous note greets you when you turn the Panamera-shaped ignition key, but it settles down into a domesticated hum. For all the drama around the 911, the new Porsche doesn’t sound as dramatic. Well, at least not when it’s at standstill. But that will not come between you and the car when it starts moving.
It is common knowledge that a 911 has always been about quintessential sportscar driving. And typically with sportscars, it is about precision. And on a 911, driving precision is standard fitment, irrespective of the number of wheels it drives. Like the two-wheel-drive version, this one too is about simply strapping up, flooring the throttle, a touch of steering input and you end up looking like a driving god.
Power starts coming pretty low down the rev range and the horses keep barreling out of the stable till just over 6000rpm. By that time, the dash to 100 is a distant past, completed in under five seconds. This is quicker than the two-wheel-drive 911 by 0.2 seconds. The double ton will come up in just over 14 seconds.
Porsche purists will hate us for saying this, but in 4S guise, the Carrera is precision personified. Floor the throttle and the soundtrack is accompanied by a blurred landscape passing by in an incredible hurry.
Sharp curve ahead? Well, you won’t need to flick the largish steering wheel in a hurry. Just guide it in the direction you want to go and the 4S complies without a hint of understeer. You can feel the tyres grip the road and caress this beautiful machine out of the corner without any embarrassment. Making a mess of this car will need an incredible level of stupidity.
The power steering is now electrically assisted but is still full of feel. Maybe it’s time to rethink the general perception that electric steering offers poor feel.
Porsche insists the Carrera S is at its quickest and most agile when fitted with the optional seven-speed PDK transmission. We can’t really argue with that, but quickest doesn’t necessarily mean more fun. If sheer driving pleasure is what you want, press the Sport Plus button on the centre console.
It firms up the suspension, allows you to rev higher and hold the upshifts and tops that with an exhaust note that finally gets some drama going in this Porsche. Paddle-shift your way and the control the car exudes is worth sacrificing those 0.2 seconds of outright acceleration.
The car feels so agile and in control, it’s almost like watching a Hollywood stuntman in action… through his eyes. Almost leaves you scratching your head, wondering, ‘Now where the heck did I learn to drive that good?’ Despite its pure performance intentions, Porsche has done well with the interior. Every creature comfort expected in a luxury car is taken care of. The digital instrument cluster is a maze of new real-time displays that show, among other things, the amount of power going to all the wheels and the g-forces experienced by the car’s occupants.
More importantly, for India, the ride is quite pliant even in Sport mode, which is a big relief. You don’t go bouncing all over the place when the car makes a mockery of physics on the road. After a long drive, you will get out of the car massaging your ego rather than your back.
In rear-wheel-drive mode, the 911 is impossible not to like. At almost Rs 1.9 crore on-road, the 911 Carrera 4S is marginally more expensive than a conventional 911. Plus, it’s quicker and more agile and demands even lesser restraint from the driver. In other words, it’s more responsible while still being as much fun, for not too much more money. That’s an unbeatable package.
3800cc, flat-six petrol (high octane recommended/else normal fuel), 400bhp, 440Nm, 7A (PDK optional), AWD (rear full-time), max speed: 297kph, fuel economy: 7.6kpl, 0-100kph: 4.1sec*, 80-0kph: 2.19sec, , 30-50kph: 1.23sec, 50-70kph: 2.29sec, Rs 1.9 crore (on-road, Mumbai, estimated)
All-wheel-drive, but still a quintessential 911. Not as much drama but all the precision you’ll need. Never a dull moment if you seriously love driving. Or even if you don’t.