Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

April 2007

picture of car from the front

Classic 911 silhouette is enhanced in Carrera 4 form

Ratings

Overall Rating 9Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 4Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 10Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • For all the car's performance bias, it can also be successfully used on a daily basis. Blurring the line between hyper car and Grand Tourer, the 911 offers excellent levels of cabin refinement plus a wide range of standard and option comfort equipment. It's practical too, with a reasonable amount of space available in the front boot - the engine is in the back.
  • Powerful and sonorous engine is delight to use
  • Four-wheel drive is unobtrusive and impressive
  • Handling and grip are exceptional

Gripes

  • Heavy clutch can be hard work in traffic
  • Some smaller interior buttons feel a little cheap
  • Boot space is at a premium
  • Running costs likely to be high

Porsche's iconic 911 model has remained at the pinnacle of the sports car sector for decades, thanks to a sound basic formula and a consistent programme of updates and improvements. There is also a model to suit the most demanding buyers, and this naturally aspirated four-wheel drive 911 fills a gap in the range.

The 997-series Porsche 911 is already an exceptional performance car, offering the unmistakable silhouette which has remained a firm favourite with sports car buyers without looking outdated. A series of wheel and exterior styling packages allow further tailoring, but the inherent proportions and details are simple and attractive. Externally, the rear wheel arches are wider on four-wheel drive models, as are the rear wheel widths, distinguishing them subtly from the two-wheel drive models.

The Carrera 4 is available in two versions, Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S. The S is the higher output version, gaining the enlarged 3.8-litre version of the famous Porsche flat-six engine. Rather than having the cylinders arranged in a V-shape or on-line as with most six-cylinder units, the Porsche has the six cylinders horizontally opposed, which offers benefits of compactness and smoothness as well as a unique engine sound.

The four-wheel drive system itself is key difference to other 911 models, and it uses a viscous centre coupling within the system. This means that the Carrera 4 has permanent four-wheel drive, with at least five percent of the engine's power being fed to the front wheels. If the system detects rear wheel slip, it can divert more power to the front wheels, up to a maximum of 40 per cent. That gives the 911 C4 variants superb traction, aided by the rear-engined configuration.

For all the car's performance bias, it can also be successfully used on a daily basis. Blurring the line between hyper car and Grand Tourer, the 911 offers excellent levels of cabin refinement plus a wide range of standard and option comfort equipment. It's practical too, with a reasonable amount of space available in the front boot - the engine is in the back.

Our verdict on the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Without any significant penalty, adding four-wheel drive to the 911 makes it even more usable as an everyday supercar. The extra confidence given by the extra grip and traction allows the impressive performance to be used more of the time, as well as making it less intimidating to the inexperienced. At the same time it still delivers the thrills and practicality that makes it one of the most desirable cars money can buy.

Costs
Costs rating 4

Running costs for the 911 are likely to be high. Fuel economy is relatively low, while insurance and running costs will be at the higher end of the scale. Servicing isn't cheap on a car like this, but as this is a thoroughbred performance car that's always going to be one of the downsides.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

Front seat passengers have plenty of room in all directions, and are unlikely to have any quibbles. In the rear space is more restricted, though the seats are suitable for average sized adults on short journeys. Storage space in the cabin is relatively good, although the front boot is only suitable for carrying a couple of soft bags.

picture of car from the rear

Wider rear arches are the most notable change

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The layout of the 911's cabin is impressive. It retains the classic five-dial set-up for the instruments, supplemented by changeable digital displays. As well as being attractive it is informative and easy to use. Some of the smaller buttons on the dashboard are quite small, but otherwise the cabin is faultless.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The 911 does a good job of delivering respectable comfort levels. The seats are superb, firm and supportive even over long distances. Noise levels are quite restrained, the engine subsiding when on a light throttle. The ride is firm, but not uncomfortably so, only the worst potholes causing a disturbance in the cabin.

Car security
Security Rating 10

All Porsche 911 vehicles are fitted with a tracking system as standard, making it very difficult for the car to be successfully stolen. In addition it has an immobiliser and alarm as standard.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

With the added benefit of four-wheel drive, the 911 offers a high level of active and passive safety. The excellent grip and high levels of braking power make it easier to avoid an accident in the first place.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 10

The driving appeal of the 911 is the key reason for purchasing one. Although having the engine at the rear is not inherently ideal in terms of dynamics, the Porsche engineers have honed the set-up to the point where it delivers an impeccable degree of balance, grip and enjoyment. The steering, brakes, suspension, gearbox and engine combine to make every burst of acceleration, braking and turning an immense pleasure. Despite all this, it can still cruise comfortably and cope with traffic jams.

picture of car interior

Interior is well constructed and attractive

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 6

The 911 is not an ideal family car, although it could carry two adults and children. Insufficient boot space would be the key issue, as is access to the rear seats.

First car appeal
First car Rating 2

The 911 is much too powerful and expensive for a first car, even in its more benign four-wheel drive form.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 9

The 911's reputation is founded on high quality, and almost without exception it delivers. It feels thoroughly engineered throughout and robust, with the only demerit being the slightly flimsy nature of some of the minor switches. The 911's image is even stronger, remaining one of the most desirable sports cars ever despite strong competition, and its reputation as a superb performance car is well known.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

For a sports car, the 911 is easy to get into. The doors are long and open wide, and although the seats are low set, it is not a long drop down into them. Access to the rear does require the seat to be slid forward, which takes a few seconds if electric seats are fitted.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

With the optional Bose stereo system fitted, the 911 boasts a superb sound system. Radio, CDs and MP3 CDs can be played, and the sound quality is of a high standard. Steering wheel controls make it easy to operate, and unlike many cars these controls are small so they do not interfere during spirited driving.

picture of car in detail

Tail spoiler rises at speed automatically

Colours and trim

The 911 is available in a range of mostly subtle colours, with brighter hues like red, yellow and white for the outgoing. Inside the cabin is understated and sombre, but can be brightened by choosing different cabin colours and materials.

Parking

Because of its unique shape, parking the 911 can be a little tricky. Visibility all round is generally good, but the sloping rear can make it difficult to judge. However, parking sensors are available as an option.

Spare wheel

Tyre inflation kit fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options: 3.6-litre petrol (325bhp and 415bhp), 3.6-litre turbocharged (480bhp), 3.8-litre petrol (355bhp). All are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a Tiptronic automatic also available. There are no specific trim levels.

 

Alternative cars

Ferrari F430 Incredibly rapid and desirable, less of an everyday car

Lamborghini Gallardo Most usable Lamborghini ever is highly competent

Aston Martin V8 Vantage Attractive and good to drive British offering

BMW M6 High-tech masterpiece with an incredible engine



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April 2007