Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

23 Jan, 2013 11:15am Luke Madden

We drive the new four-wheel-drive Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, which gives year-round supercar thrills


A lot of drivers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a Carrera S and 4S in the dry, such is the level of grip on offer. But the 4S shines in slippery conditions, making the 911 a supercar you really can get the most out of all year round.

There's always been some dispute about the four-wheel-drive Porsche 911. It’s undoubtedly more usable than the rear-wheel-drive Carrera 2, but the argument is that some of the 911’s excitement is lost.

The new Carrera 4 reignites the debate, but with even more advanced 4WD, this model could finally be all things to all people. Most of the time it’s rear-wheel drive, but the clever set-up can shift up to 100 per cent of power to either axle in 100 milliseconds.

The system really shines in slippery conditions, allowing you to access the performance far more readily. Floor the throttle of our 394bhp Carrera 4S in the wet, and acceleration is ferocious, enabling you to get near to the 4.1-second 0-62mph time in any conditions. The car feels reassuring through bends, too, with more of a tendency to safely understeer, where the rear-driven Porsche 911 Carrera 2 would veer towards twitchy oversteer. But you only really notice when it’s slippery. In the dry you’d struggle to spot any differences, simply because the 2 has so much grip already.

There are a couple of trademark Carrera 4 giveaways, though, such as the 22mm-wider rear arches that loom large in the mirrors, plus the red light strip running the width of the engine cover.

A new dial in the instrument cluster shows exactly how much power is going to each axle, too. You’ll need that to convince yourself this actually is a four-wheel-drive model, because the system works so seamlessly there’s no other way of telling.

Opting for the Carrera 4S over the standard S means paying £4,856 extra. This doesn’t buy you a car that’s any more fun to drive – in fact, it’s marginally less exciting than the S – but it’s a whole lot safer, more predictable and more versatile, too.

Key specs

  • Price: £87,959
  • Engine: 3.8-litre flat-six, 394bhp
  • Transmission: Seven-speed twin-clutch auto, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 4.1 secs/186mph
  • Economy/CO2: 31.0mpg/215g/km
  • Equipment: 20-inch alloy wheels, leather interior, 4.6-inch colour touchscreen satellite navigation system, xenon headlights
  • On sale: Now