With a huge increase in the level of electronic driving aids, we found that the all-new 2012 Porsche 911 to be easily the best performing 911 yet. But you knew that Porsche wouldn’t stop there. And the first upgrade to the rear-drive 991 is the 2013 Carrera 4. Now in typical C4 fashion, just about everything has been improved to go along with the addition of all-wheel-drive. But, at what point does more performance result in less fun. Well, let’s see if we’re there yet.
In fact, we were so eager to find out if this “more grip and less slip” Porsche is indeed more capable or less fun, we somehow convinced Porsche into giving us the very first 2013 C4 to land on our shores; a full potential C4S. From there, we quickly headed to Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, Georgia. And along the way, we did traverse some nasty weather, including freezing rain and snow that the C4 proved more than capable of handling.
The upgrade to C4 status is more noticeable than previous generations. And if the seriously wider hips aren’t clue enough, there’s a new LED light strip running across the rear that clues in the clueless. Standard wheels are 20-inchers with 245/35 Pirelli rubber up front, extra-meaty 305/30’s in the rear. Additional C4-exlclusive elements include black rocker extensions and a tweaked front fascia with larger air openings.
But, it takes more than fancy body work to get you around a race track, and after only a few laps we started to feel very comfortable behind the wheel of this latest C4S. In fact, this car feels so nailed down to the track that it’s almost boring.
All C4’s use an all-wheel-drive system derived from the last 911 Turbo and works with Porsche’s Traction Management and braking systems to Torque Vector power wherever it is most beneficial, including almost 100% to the front, though we can’t think of too many times where that would be useful. It adds only 111-pounds to the 911, but adds tons more grip.
At speed, everything feels so refined and sorted out. Cornering is virtually flat, steering feedback is spot on, just point it where you want and it responds instantly. You have to disable every electronic nanny you possibly can to get any rear end play; otherwise all you get is tenacious grip. Brakes are simply phenomenal; after 3 days of cruelty at the feet of our test drivers, there was no change to their feel or effectiveness.
Engine choices are the same as standard 911s; a 3.4 flat-6 in the C4, and a 3.8-liter in our C4S pumping out 400-horsepower and 325 lb-ft. of torque.
Porsche’s PDK is optional, but we were happy to stick with the 7-speed manual for this test. Ours did include the optional Sport Chrono package that adds a new rev matching feature on downshifts. It’s a spectacular gearbox, one everyone else should be striving to imitate.
It’s not the preferred choice however, when it comes to straight-line testing. Nor were the cold and windy track conditions that we faced ideal. Still we managed a sprint to 60 in 4.4-seconds. Opt for the PDK, and you should have no problem getting down into the 3’s. The quarter mile took just 12.7-seconds, and was reached at 114 miles-per-hour.
All-in-all it’s the most secure feeling, most reassuring 911 we’ve ever driven, and a night-and-day difference over previous all-wheel-drive Carreras. Everything works so seamlessly that you hardly ever know what’s really going on, and you feel virtually invincible.
On the street, the C4S feels firm and purposeful, but never uncomfortable. With 7-gears to manage, you do stay busy, though 7th is clearly just a nod towards fuel economy, no reason to use it unless you’ve eating up interstate miles.
Inside, there’s no drastic change over a basic 911, but we’ve really come to love the fundamental control layout. When first sampled in the Panamera, we weren’t too sure about it, but it is very easy to master and after all of the central controllers we’ve been dealing with in luxury cars, it’s refreshing to see actual buttons that work and do what you want them to do. There is a touch-screen for controlling the radio, navigation, and many vehicle functions but you hardly ever need to touch it.
We are still not fans of the electronic parking brake, however. Seats are super-comfortable, there’s a perfect amount of engine growl, and like any other 911, you feel like you could drive it anytime, anywhere, for as long as possible.
Pricing starts at $91,980 for a base Carrera 4. That’s $6,730 more than a base 911, and while that is a significant investment for a little more traction, it also buys sharper sheet-metal and some exclusivity. Our C4S starts at $106,580. There’s no denying that that’s pricy, but it’s not outrageous for a car that offers as much performance as this one.
Being in this profession we often get asked, “What car would you really like to own?” And while that answer changes over time as we drive newer and better cars, more often than not, the answer is a 911, and now the answer is without a doubt the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.
Engine: 3.8 liter
Torque: 325 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.7 seconds @ 114 mph