Matt Saunders
4 January 2013

What is it?

Porsche’s 911, freshly provided with four driven wheels for UK buyers. But does it need ’em? It’s a question that’s been lingering ever since the ‘964’ was introduced in 1989, and – annoyingly – as the generations come and go, it only seems to get harder to answer.

Unlike Zuffenhausen’s first all-paw models, the new Carrera 4 and 4S ‘991s’ come with very few associated bugbears. The latest four-corner drivetrain, together with the wider body and fatter rear wheels that are standard on the 4 and 4S, impose a kerb weight penalty of just 50kg on the car; that’s half what it used to be.

In the case of our Carrera 4 manual test car, standing start acceleration suffers by just a tenth of a second, and top speed by just two miles per hour relative to the equivalent Carrera – according to the official claims. Carbon dioxoide emissions are higher, but not by enough to lift the Carrera 4 into £460-a-year ‘Band L’ tax disc territory. So the only cost owners really need to concern themselves with is the £6500 price premium.

What is it like?

Assured. The truth is, if your new 911 is going to be used most days, all year round, you should probably pay that premium.

Those who carp on about rear-driven 911s lacking for little on traction are right to do so. In the dry, 99 per cent of the time, you won’t even know that the front wheels of your Carrera 4 are being called into service for anything other than steering. In more slippery conditions, though, they begin to earn their money.

The grip levels of an ordinary 911 are quite high, but in the wet and at high speeds, you can just about approach them on the road. In those conditions, you can make the rear-driven car wake up and remind you where its engine is, by trailing the brakes into a fast bend or lifting the throttle around an off-camber roundabout, and edging the car into the beginnings of oversteer. For some, that adjustability is all part and parcel of the 911’s dynamic character.

In the Carrera 4, the impression of surefootedness is that bit greater: the car rarely runs out of purchase at either axle unless it’s deliberately provoked. On top of that, the new Porsche Traction Management system works particularly well to mitigate the 911’s idiosyncratic liking for power-on understeer at relatively low speeds, but never seems to corrupt the steering. The system just makes the car a little bit easier to drive when the weather is bad.

Should I buy one?

If your car is for general, everyday use, yes. For what it’s worth, though, if you’re going to save your 911 for summer trackdays and occasional holiday amusement, you’ll be better off sticking with rear-wheel drive and spending the £6.5k on optional kit.

Because even with in this latest case, a set of ceramic brakes, PASM active dampers and Porsche’s Torque Vectoring System Plus would be a better way to prepare your car for the kind of life that many would imagine for it than four-wheel drive, and would ultimately deliver a purer and more involving drive.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4

Price: £77,924; 0-62mph: 4.9sec; Top speed: 177mph; Economy: 30.4mpg; Co2: 219g/km; Kerbweight: 1430kg; Engine type, cc: 6 cyls horizontally opposed, 3436cc, petrol; Power: 345bhp at 7400rpm; Torque: 288lb ft at 5600rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
13

I'm not sure about the 991's looks though

1 year 34 weeks ago

I don't know if it's just me but I find the 991 a bit bland looking and featureless, in the same way the 996 was. A major facelift transformed the 996 in to the great looking 997, so may be the same trick will be applied to the 991 in a few years. I'm sure the  add ons associated with the Turbo will beef up the 991 and make it look a lot more exciting.

Golf...

1 year 34 weeks ago

Some things never change. Funny thing how the dashboard features the same switchgear for the headlights and fog lights with the golf. Even the dash architecture, a straight line, more or less same position and similar shape for the airvents and even the way the upper dashboard meets the down part on the centre console is ...the same with the golfs.

 

Boring!

I'd love to have the problem

1 year 34 weeks ago

I'd love to have the problem of which version to go for.

One day.

tech21man wrote: Some things

1 year 34 weeks ago

tech21man wrote:

Some things never change. Funny thing how the dashboard features the same switchgear for the headlights and fog lights with the golf. Even the dash architecture, a straight line, more or less same position and similar shape for the airvents and even the way the upper dashboard meets the down part on the centre console is ...the same with the golfs.

 

Boring!

Once you achieve perfection, there is no longer any need for endless change and mindless tweaking of minor details and layouts

Even the wheels are a similar

1 year 34 weeks ago

Even the wheels are a similar shape!

brian245 wrote: tech21man

1 year 34 weeks ago

brian245 wrote:

tech21man wrote:

Some things never change. Funny thing how the dashboard features the same switchgear for the headlights and fog lights with the golf. Even the dash architecture, a straight line, more or less same position and similar shape for the airvents and even the way the upper dashboard meets the down part on the centre console is ...the same with the golfs.

 

Boring!

Once you achieve perfection, there is no longer any need for endless change and mindless tweaking of minor details and layouts

Oh dear, cringe.

Love it in white!  And I have

1 year 34 weeks ago

Love it in white!  And I have to say I think the back end looks better with the red strip across it.

It is my favorite car, love

1 year 33 weeks ago

It is my favorite car, love the car in white and black alloy wheel.

boring !

1 year 33 weeks ago

agree with lanehogger

991 bores me to tears.

more i see them, the more i hanker for an old air-cooled 911.

i don't think turbo or gt3 variants will help.

love it

1 year 33 weeks ago

Don't give a monkey's what anybody thinks about the 991. I have one (a cab) i  simply love it. Over the years i have had several 911s AND lot's of other high end "sports cars". I keep going back to the Porsche.

One thing i can convey, it turns heads and puts smiles on a lot of faces (yes smiles not grimaces).

Hey carpo, mines white with black wheels, see profile

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Our Verdict

Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is a sublime all-purpose sports car

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