Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
The weather gods of Northern California cooperated by hurling rain at our Porsche 911 Carrera 4S during a 250-mile drive through the Mendocino National Forest up to the region of misty mountains and storm-lashed shoals known tantalizingly as the Lost Coast. What better challenge could you wish for when first encountering the latest all-wheel-drive Porsche 911 than to soak down the few undulating asphalt lanes that crisscross this wooded, moss-draped landscape? (This is a rhetorical question; don’t answer.)
As has been well documented here, Porsche is rebooting the base 911 Carrera and Targa line with turbocharged engines for 10 models (for now). We’re told that when this news was announced last year, it sparked a run on the former, naturally aspirated 911s. Granted, the new engine has a plastic intake and oil sump, so all that is good and right in the world seems to be ending. But plastic is lighter than aluminum, and its durability was proven by getting a factory forklift driver to repeatedly drop the fully assembled and dressed engine onto concrete from a height of about seven feet. Really—we saw video of it.
Having driven many versions of the new turbo car, including now this C4S, we think the fever to grab a free-breather before they were gone, while understandable, was misplaced. The 991.2-generation, as Porsche is calling the repowered version, is definitely better, more usable and flexible in a bunch of small ways, and lacks none of the spirit of the 991.1.
Mounted in the rear of the 911 Carrera is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six-cylinder engine. The base version has 379 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of torque; the S model pumps out 443 ponies and 390 lb-ft. While all Carreras have a ridiculously quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, a sweet seven-speed manual is offered on S models. Both base and S variants come standard with rear-wheel drive, but they can be equipped with all-wheel drive for four-season high-performance driving. We’ve tested the base Carrera as well as several variations of the more powerful Carrera S, which proved its prowess at the racetrack and its incredible traction in adverse weather conditions. No matter the application, every 911 has astonishing acceleration, especially when the gleefully good launch control is utilized. Porsche’s optional sport exhaust system also helps enhance the experience by providing a fuller engine note. Best of all, the 911 is as comfortable as ever and also better to drive. Its steering is communicative and brilliantly direct, and the coupe and convertible have increased cornering grip and stability. The ride quality is surprisingly supple, too, despite the 911’s amazing body control, which allow drivers to seamlessly switch between relaxed and spirited romps.