First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera 4
The new four-wheel-drive 911 feels just like the RWD...
Posted: 25 Oct 2012
Mad though it seems, Porsche's ever-diligent engineers sweated blood making their work on the Carrera 4 disappear. For nearly every mile you drive, the new four-wheel-drive 911 feels just like the RWD one. When it's dry at any rate, you might wonder where the extra £7000 went, compared with the price of the equivalent RWD Carrera. OK, it buys driven front wheels, slightly wider rear arches and tyres (a combo that definitely improves the looks) and a red strip between the rear light clusters. But the £7k doesn't seem to buy a car that feels much different.
That's no bad thing. Every good word you've ever read about the 991-series 911s - whether normal or S, coupe or cabrio - is also true in their 4WD equivalents.
They're wonderfully precise machines, stable yet alive, refined yet sharp-edged, comfortable GTs yet sports cars to their very core.
A modern RWD 911 can even cope very well indeed when it's wet or greasy. But the C4 is better. You can get the power down sooner out of a corner. And you can do it without feathering the throttle, or having the traction control get busy. Because on unknown, blind corners, you aren't really driving with the traction control switched off are you? Except you, Herr Röhrl.
Downsides? Well, I think there might be very slightly less feedback from the steering in the 4WD versions, and very slightly less informative wriggle from the chassis as you get towards the limit. It's possible the differences are down to roads and temperatures: I didn't have a C2 to hand when I drove the C4. But I think the C4 is sending less information about the varying grip of the tyres simply because there actually is less to say. The grip varies less. It's a more consistent car.
The new C4 has the electronically controlled centre clutch pack that was introduced on the gen 2 997. It means torque can be varied almost instantaneously between the axles when the electronic programme dictates.
Much of the time, in gentle driving and on the way into corners, it operates as rear-drive. That helps steering sensitivity. But out of bends, and at high-speed on the straights, or when it's slippery, then some torque is sent forward. Which keeps things stable and predictable.
You can call up on the dash a real-time of graphic of where the torque is being directed. But honestly, if you're got much going to the front, you really should be watching the road. But at least your passenger can watch the graph. And then they'll see where the £7,000 went.
Words: Paul Horrell