Home' The Mirror Central Otago : April 24th 2013 Contents 24.4.13
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Classic Porsche even after changes
FROM Page 20
Longitudinally rear-mounted 4WD 3800cc 24 valve flat-six, with seven-
speed manual or PDK gearbox.
Max 294kW at 7400rpm, and 440Nm at 5600rpm, 0-100kmh 4.1secs,
9.1L/100km, 215g/km CO2.
Front MacPherson struts, rear multilinks; electro-mechanical power
steering; 20-inch alloy wheels.
Traction control, stability control, vented disc brakes front and rear, 6
airbags, 5-star Euro NCAP rating.
L 4491mm, H 1296m, W 1852mm, W/base 2450mm, F/track 1538mm,
R/track 1552mm, Weight 1540kg, Fuel 68L.
Porsche Carrera 4 S from $265,000, Other Carreras from $226,000 to
Traditional styling; simply incredible chassis balance and poise; as quick as,
but half the price of, a Ferrari.
The Cayman and Boxster are even cheaper and no less impressive, though
they're not 911s.
You can see where every cent spent in 50 years of development has gone
into building the 911 C4S.
For all that, the current 991 series
car reviewed here has enjoyed the
greatest number of changes in a
single model cycle when com-
pared with the previous 997
Its engines are smaller at 3.4 and
3.8-litres, its wheel footprint is
wider, and it's 56mm longer over
all on a 100mm longer wheelbase.
It also has better accommodation,
both in terms of volume and
quality and thanks to a lot of
aluminium being employed in its
construction, it's also up to 50kg
And yes, it all looks pleasantly
familiar, though if you park up
next to the old model, you'll notice
the slimmer rear light slivers,
tidier front lamps too, and a more
severely-raked front screen with
its base starting a touch further
forward than before.
Other changes include electro-
mechanical steering (lighter, and
less power-sapping) the option of a
seven-speed manual box, though
the two-pedal PDK device with a
similar number of ratios is
quicker and better -- but don't take
my word for it, test driver Walther
Rohrl said that too.
We all know that the 911's engine
shouldn't be out where it is, but 50
years and more than 800,000
buyers can't be wrong and far
from being the skittish beasts the
early cars were -- and they really
were -- the newest 911s are
pussycats by comparison.
My test car is the Carrera 4 S. The
S means it's the hotter of the two
engine sizes with 294kW on tap
compared with 257kW for the non
S while ''4'' means it's the all-
wheel-drive version, so it's the
least skittish of all 911s, and
contrary to most previous cars
with a 911 history and that kind of
power, it can be as passive and
gentle as you want it to be, all day
The all-wheel-drive system allows
the Porsche to be, and behave like,
a rear-drive car most of the time,
because that's what it is. But the
setup can dump all of the engine's
power and torque to the front end
if its yaw, steering and throttle
sensors dictate, but you'd have to
be ''bloody silly'' to achieve that,
says Porsche. What you will note
is that the Carrera 4 has
eliminated even more of that
unnerving understeer that earlier
911s used to demonstrate at times.
The Carrera 2 had all but shooed
it away, but the all-wheel-drive
car makes the 911 feel more
neutral in normal driving con-
ditions than any version before it.
But neutral doesn't mean ''bor-
ing''. With such a flexible and,
when you need it, astonishingly
punchy power unit behind you
making one of the industry's most
pleasant and emotive engine
notes, the transition from one
well-poised apex-hugging point in
one corner to the turn-in area of
the next is quick, communicative
-- even with the electric steering
assistance -- and very satisfying.
The steering allows very quick
inputs when at that turn-in point
and such reactions need time to
get used to, especially with the
almost expected push-out or
understeer now out of the
There's lots of grip, but also lots of
information coming through the
hands and the seat of the pants,
and the car feels so much more
complete in the twisties than 911s
of old. The rear footprint is
another 36mm wider than the two-
wheel-drive car's and the C4S has
extra body muscle to cover it, and
very elegantly too.
While cornering, you won't have
time to peruse or even spot the
information graphic in the right
hand dial of the three-instrument
binnacle in front of you, but your
passenger might want to have a
look to know why this car can get
around corners so implausibly
quickly. The graphic shows the
torque deployment front to rear,
but frankly it seem a bit
gimmicky for a car as serious as
As well as that front passenger,
you could carry two other others,
but they'll have to be contortion-
ists, very tiny or party to being
surgically inserted into the two
tiny perches on offer in the rear.
It's better than with pre-991
versions of the 911, but that's faint
praise, truth be known. I'd call the
Porsche a two-plus-briefcase and
shopping rather than a genuine
From the front chairs, the 991 is a
little less snug than before. The
dash doesn't dominate, because
the wider and longer windscreen
allows more light and air into the
Fifty years on since its first flat-
six production cars, Porsche has
done a great job of refining its
product. You'd expect it to be the
best-ever 911, but the fact that
even those TV stars who can't tell
the difference also call it the best-
ever sportscar, full-stop, is a huge
compliment. I don't disagree with
them at all. Nice work Granddad,
that's some axe!
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