Upgrades make the four-wheel drive 911 even better to drive

What is it?

As tradition dictates, the four-wheel driven versions of the 911 have received the same mid-life makeover as the standard Carrera and Carrera S.

The new car is pitched as being both better to drive and more efficient, with impressively low consumption and emission figures considering the performance on offer.

Now it Those familiar with the stylistic changes Porsche has brought to the 911 Carrera will have little trouble recognising the reworked Carrera 4. Along with limited number of standard visual updates –sculptured daytime running lights up front and reshaped LED tail lamps at the rear, it also carries an added reflector strip along the trailing edge of the engine lid as well as an extra 44mm of width in the rear wheel arches.

The new Carrera S now sports a high pressure direct injection system for its evergreen 3.8-litre six cylinder boxer engine, which kicks out a gutsy 385bhp and 310lb ft – an increase of 30bhp and 15lb ft.

Buyers also get the choice of either the six-speed manual gearbox carried straight over from the previous 911, or a new, spectacularly efficient seven-speed double clutch unit with remote shift buttons on the steering wheel and a launch start mode.

It is further along the driveline, however, where Porsche has focused much of its engineering efforts with the new 911 Carrera 4. In line with the developments brought to the 911 Turbo, the new car adopts a multi-plate clutch four-wheel drive system.

Called Porsche Traction Management (PTM) and replacing the viscous coupling arrangement in use since 1989, it is capable of apportioning up to 100 per cent of the drive to either the front or rear wheels and, on the S, comes in combination with a standard locking differential on the rear axle.

What’s it like?

The difference on the road is subtle but noticeable. At 1470kg, the new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S carries an extra 20kg over the car it replaces. However, those added engine reserves and even greater traction ensures performance is more impressive than ever. With the optional SportChrono system enhancing the throttle mapping, the 4S is claimed to storm from 0-62mph in just 4.3sec and hit 185mph flat out – pushing it within 0.4sec and 20km/h of the mighty 911 Turbo.

The driving experience is enhanced, too. There’s a more even weighting to the steering, which in combination with a smoother and faster apportioning of power between the front and rear wheels and the locking effect of the limited slip differential promotes supreme confidence.

On undulating B-roads the Carrera 4S feels terrifically well planted and equally as agile as its recently facelifted rear-wheel-drive siblings, although there’s more understeer as you edge up to the car’s limit. It’s equally rewarding to just slot the gearbox into drive and flow along with the traffic; the breadth of ability is quite astonishing.

It is not all roses, though. While we have no qualms with the rapid and highly efficient way Porsche’s new double clutch gearbox channels drive to each corner, the remote shift buttons are too big and get in the way when you wind on a meaningful amount of lock. They also seem to be back to front: Instead of having the upshift buttons on the face of the wheel and the downshift ones on the back, it would make more sense to have them the other way around.

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Should I buy one?

The 911 Carrera 4S is a hugely desirable car – all the better for its contemporary new four-wheel drive system, which helps provide it with an added feeling of security, whatever the weather or road conditions.

In that sense, it is an even more enticing everyday proposition than the 911 Carrera S.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
A R Chen 29 July 2008

Re: Porsche 911 3.8 Carrera 4S

The playing ground for the 911 today is quite different from what it was less than a decade ago.

Ferrari mainstream models have become more reliable and from what I hear have no problems being used as daily drivers. The new GTR from Nissan is simply awesome, and the 911's own cousin the Audi R8 is a formidable weapon in its own right.

However, for me, this particular 911 has everything going for it and had I the financial fortitude to make the investment, it would be exactly this model that graces my driveway.

As many other Autocar staffers have observed, once you approach this price range, it is more a matter of personal taste and the emotional factors if you will, than just the outright ability of the car.

Having said that, this new 911 appears to stand its ground pretty well when it comes to outright ability.

jl4069 29 July 2008

Re: Porsche 911 3.8 Carrera 4S

Lets see, most feel the 996 Turbo is quite a bit better than the new TT.

And I have not read too many favorable words about the 997 TT at all, in any publication- indeed the new Skyline takes it apart. So how are we supposed to take this lesser version?

Time for a new 4WD system or a frontengine.