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Leaner, greener and grippier Carrera 4. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

Leaner, greener and grippier Carrera 4
Porsche has applied the Carrera 2 tweaks to a new Carrera 4 model, plus the four-wheel drive system from the 911 Turbo.

   



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| First Drive | Berlin, Germany | Porsche 911 Carrera 4 |

It has been twenty years since Porsche introduced the Carrera 4 to the 911 range and it's been a mainstay of the line-up ever since, offering buyers a little more surefootedness when road conditions are less than ideal. Now it has been updated with a sophisticated four-wheel drive system from the 911 Turbo, along with a raft of improvements in line with the latest Carrera 2.

In the Metal

Gentle evolution is the only way to describe the new 997-series 911, though the Carrera 4 models are easier to distinguish from their predecessors thanks to a reflective red strip joining the two restyled rear lights. The Carrera 4 also features a 44mm wider body shell than the rear-wheel drive models. Styling revisions first seen on the Carrera 2, such as new bumpers, mirrors, wheels and lights, have been carried over to the four-wheel drive model, including the bright LED daytime driving lights located above the reshaped air intakes on the nose of the car.

Inside, the Carrera 4 is no different to the regular 911, which means a well put together cabin featuring mostly tactile switchgear and materials. The infotainment has been significantly updated in this model, with drivers having a wide range of options to control it, including an intuitive touch screen and voice recognition. USB and MP3 player connections are also now housed in the centre armrest and there are several ways to connect a mobile phone too.

What you get for your Money

Upgrading to four-wheel drive from any of the Carrera 2 models costs 4,360, which means an entry-level Carrera 4 will set you back a not insignificant 67,430. On top of all-wheel drive, a mechanical limited slip differential is standard on the Carrera 4. The pick of the range is the Carrera 4 S, which attracts a premium of 7,290, bringing the purchase price up to nearly 75,000. If you'd prefer to not have a clutch pedal, the new PDK dual-clutch transmission adds 2,338, while we'd find it difficult to not tick the Sport Chrono Package Plus box, as it increases the parameters the driver can alter, as well as enabling a rather impressive launch control facility when used in conjunction with the PDK gearbox.

Driving it

We spent the first day of the launch on sweeping country roads near Berlin. Not only was the surface mostly perfect, but the sun shone brightly. Needless to say, there was little call for the Carrera 4's all-wheel drive. The day did illustrate that the Carrera 4 is just as thrilling and competent a car as its two-wheel drive cousin, with masses of mechanical grip and huge traction on the exit of any corner. It takes a lot of provocation to summon tyre squeal, never mind an actual slide. Suffice to say that on the public road in the dry the Carrera 4 is formidable. Purists are likely to prefer the more tail-led stance of the two-wheel drive model, though the four-wheel drive doesn't detract very much from the driving experience.

No doubt inclement weather would tip the balance the way of the Carrera 4, which could enamour it to British buyers intending to use their 911 all year round. Time on a soaking wet skid pan illustrated just how effective the various electronic systems are, while a short handling circuit and a faster track demonstrated the Carrera 4's abilities on and over the limit. Simply put, the Carrera 4 is very easy to drive very quickly. It may be a fraction more understeer prone than the Carrera 2, but drive is quickly reapportioned to the rear if you are determined to keep your foot down. Likewise, power oversteer is kept to a minimum. Turn off the PSM (Porsche Stability Management) and you'll discover that it's not too difficult to initiate a rear-led slide, certainly on a trailing throttle, but it's controllable, and when in its default setting the PSM gathers up the slide quickly, with minimal loss of forward momentum.

As ever, the 911 is an exciting car to drive and own, yet it's as good at shrugging off bad road surfaces as it is at tackling tight corners and its brakes are as impressive as any road car's. It's one of the best all-round sports cars there is.

Worth Noting

Porsche has a busy year of new models ahead and the launch of the Carrera 4 was amid claims that this generation of updates to the 911 is the quickest yet to permeate the whole range. As if to emphasise that, the morning we flew out to Berlin we were handed a press release on the new 911 Targa. The sliding glass-roofed variant will only be available with the Carrera 4 hardware, along with the wider bodywork and red reflective strip at the back. We're already salivating at the prospect of the new GT3 models...

Summary

In the current environment, the changes Porsche has made to the 911 range make a lot of sense. The car is cleaner and more competent than ever, yet it's also quicker. The Carrera 4 model takes the car's core values and adds a sophisticated four-wheel drive system to offer customers all-weather ability. Not everyone will want or need this, but those that do will find the new car even better than its predecessor.

Shane O' Donoghue - 30 Jul 2008



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2008 Porsche 911 specifications:
Technical specifications for 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 manual
Technical specifications for 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 S manual
Technical specifications for 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 S with PDK
Technical specifications for 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 with PDK
Technical specifications for 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet
Technical specifications for 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 S Cabriolet

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.
 

2008 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.
 






 

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