Porsche's new Carrera 4 puts down the traction to keep drivers on the road
If you got last year's Carrera, you may want to consider trading up to the 2013 Carrera 4S. (Marketwire / Porsche Cars Canada)
Michael Vaughan, Special to Autos.CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, November 10, 2012 8:00AM EST
EHRENHAUSEN, Austria - Here is yet another article about the venerable Porsche 911. After all, they’ve been making the things since 1963 through seven generations of the car including countless, countless versions or variants. Well here supposedly is the latest and greatest – the 911 Carrera 4.
I’ve come to a small village in southeastern Austria for the global launch of the newest of this famous sports car line. There are twisty mountain roads galore including slippery and snow-covered ones at the higher elevations. It might come in handy because the 4 in “Carrera 4” means fou- wheel drive. Yup, just like a Land Rover or Jeep, this baby’s got power at all four corners.
But it’s not for climbing over rocks or splashing through mud holes. The Porsche engineers have been building an AWD version since the 1980’s because it can help keep the car on the road at very high speeds. As you know, the 911 has the engine mounted over and behind the rear axle. When it’s hanging way back there it’s just waiting (or is it weighting) to spin you out of control on a slippery surface if you steer too hard.
As I mentioned, the C4 is a version of the all-new seventh generation 911 that came out nearly a year ago. Gen Seven came in a little larger and lighter than Gen Six but also sleeker with a better interior and better fuel economy – but in this price bracket, who has to worry about that?
The C4 looks just like the C2 (two wheel drive) except for one thing. It has a wider rear end. An American journalist friend calls it the Porsche Big Butt. On dry roads the C4 drives just like the C2, but when you get on wet, slippery or - heaven forbid - snow covered roads the C4 shines. Drive it fast, throw it into corners and it grips and holds its line when you wouldn’t believe it possible.
I’ve driven plenty of Porsches and own an old one. It has a small fraction of the power of the new ones but it’s a sneaky beast. If the road is the least bit slippery and you push it too far, the heavy back end breaks loose and tries to fling you into the ditch. The new C4 has 350 hp and the C4S has 400 hp and each one tops out at just under 300km/h. Without four-wheel drive and all the traction control features I’d be afraid to drive them out of the parking lot on an overcast day.
However you can count on the PTM (Porsche Traction Management) to compensate for your driving mistakes or irrational exuberance by sending power to whichever of the four wheels that has the grip to bring you back in line. It happens so fast you don’t even realize the costly driving error you made that would certainly have put you in the ditch, in my car’s case.
It’s a technical marvel, but what I like best about the car is the sound the engine makes. The engineers really work on making engine noise become music. It has a beautiful rumbling roar as you shift up or down. It’s even more fun with the Doppelganger – no it’s the Doppelkupplung – tranny. That’s the seven speed, steering wheel paddled, gearbox. Ain’t technology great.
You can drive like a pro and shift like a pro in a car that would otherwise leave you waiting in the trees for a tow truck.
Of course toys like this don’t come cheap. There are four versions: the C4 as sedan or cabrio and the C4S as sedan or cabrio. None of them are under $100,000 with the C4S cabrio at $134,000 before you load it up with options. Nevertheless the C4 was the most popular 911 model in Canada in Gen Six. And all you rich boys who bought the C2 version when it came out last year, well reach for your wallets again. Take the depreciation on the trade in and move up to the C4. It’s worth the money to keep you out of the ditch.