28 Aug 2012

New Porsche 911 Carrera 4

During the long, light, warm and (usually) dry summer days it is easy to think the perfect sportscar is front engined and rear wheel drive.  All that power and lots of grip - a little oversteer around the country lanes is easy to control when the tarmac is dry and visibility is good.

But one of the most popular sportscars on the market is Porsche's 911which places the engine behind the occupants.  A little extra control is needed whilst flooring the accelerator coming off your favourite roundabout.  The extra weight of the engine over the rear axle gives the Porsche that added frisson of excitement, whilst calling for an extra degree of control.

And then the nights draw in and the rain goes from an occasional interloper to a regular companion.  In other words it's dark and wet for most of the time.

A great deal of 911's are used as daily drives.  They are reliable cars that can carry two in comfort with space in the back for luggage, shopping and the occasional small child.

And a 911, despite all the electronic trickery, is a handful in the wet.  As someone once said you cannot defy the laws of physics.  Once the angle of skid goes past a certain point it is impossible to catch it.  Normally it is BMW drivers who litter the hedgerows once winter starts - the telltale wheel marks in the grass point to an embarrassed driver, whose ambition outweighed their talent, and a broken car.

Porsche's seem to be slightly less vulnerable to this syndrome but maybe that's because the owner left their pride and joy at home and took the Mondeo to work.

The point of all the above waffle is that Porsche have announced all wheel drive versions of their new 911.  The 4WD version of the Porsche comes in 4, 4S and Cabriolet versions.  It is fundamentally the same car as the rear wheel drive version but with a fatter rear end and a few extras such as a glass sunroof and extended Sports Crono which double de-clutches when changing down gears.

Engines are 3.4 litre flat six with 350bhp and 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds or 3.8 litre with 400bhp and 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds.  The 4 versions are about a tenth of a second to 60 slower than their rear wheel drive counterparts.  But that's in the dry.  In normal conditions and with normal drivers the extra confidence and grip of the four wheel drive should allow for a faster vehicle.

Prices are £77,924 for the Carrera 4 Coupe, £87,959 for the 4S, £86,583 for the 4 Cabriolet and £96,619 for the 4S Cabriolet

In summary the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and 4S are fabulous looking, technological marvels with stunning handling and power that can be driven in normal road conditions.