Is the new Carrera 4S potentially the best all-round 911?
If you’re a regular reader of the motoring press, you’ll know there’s been much ado about the fact that every Porsche 911, with the sole exception of the GT3 models, is now turbocharged.
Yes, there’s still the mack-daddy 911 Turbo (with a capital T), but instead of aiming for outright performance the regular Carreras have instead been turbo-fied in order to meet efficiency and emissions standards.
Listening to the hardcore Porsche puritans will convince you that these new turbochargers will be the death of the 911. But then they’re the same bunch who said that the swap to water-cooled engines would be the death of the 911, as would the introduction of four-wheel drive and electric power steering…
In terms of sacrilegiousness then, this new Carrera 4S is probably the worst offender of them all. Turbocharged, with four-wheel drive and electric power steering, can it still manage to capture that classic 911 spirit?
Changes under the rear lid are a bit more extensive than just strapping a turbocharger onto the existing 911. In fact, both the entry-level Carrera and the more powerful Carrera S get an all-new 3.0-litre flat-six engine with twin turbochargers to replace the outgoing naturally aspirated 3.4- and 3.8-litre units.
As a result, the Carrera is good for 370bhp while larger turbines for the S give it a maximum output of 420bhp. Both numbers are 20bhp up over the outgoing models, and there’s also wider torque curves with the maximum 449Nm of torque now coming in from just 1,700rpm.
Jargon aside, when equipped with Porsche’s seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox, the 4S can hit 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds, while even the standard Carrera 4 can manage it in four seconds flat. It’s a quick car then, and top speed clocks in at 178mph for the Carrera 4 and 189mph for the 4S.
In fact, Porsche’s engineers say that the new Carrera 4S is as quick around the Nurburgring as the 997-generation 911 GT3 and we’d believe them. The car certainly feels phenomenally rapid with blistering acceleration and a swift boot of torque as soon as the rev needle starts to rise.
Let’s get the obvious elephant out of the room then. It does tend to be a bit boosty with slight pauses while the turbochargers spool up, and although it’s never anywhere near on par with something like the 930, if you’re a fan of the instantaneous response of the old naturally aspirated engines you might find this takes a bit of getting used to.
Likewise, even with the larger sports exhaust that comes on the 4S there’s noticeably less top-end howl because waste exhaust gases are sucked out to power the turbos, muting some of the sound.
It’s far from terrible and taken by its own measure it’s still a fantastic sounding car, but that signature sharp engine note which crescendos from mild thrum to full-on banshee wail as the revs increase is lost somewhat, replaced with a less characterful hiss of turbos spewing air into the cylinders.
Does it spoil the car? Absolutely not. Character is of course a huge part of the 911’s appeal and while there’s no arguing it’s a little down on personality it’s still an absolutely phenomenal car to drive.
Ride and Handling
The 4 in 4S of course refers to four-wheel drive instead of the traditional rear-engined, rear-wheel drive setup of the 911. However, Porsche claims that 99 per cent of the time the four-wheel drive system sends all of the power to the rear wheels, only transferring it to the front as and when it’s needed.
As a result, the Carrera 4S still feels for the most part remarkably similar to the regular Carrera model and the steering’s fantastically accurate, guiding the nose of the car across apexes with fastidious precision and leaving you able to place the car exactly where you want it, exactly when you want it.
Its handling is also aided by wider rear tyres, a retuned chassis and suspension lowered by 10mm, along with adaptive dampers which now come as standard and the option of the same four-wheel steering system that features on cars like the GT3 and the 918 Spyder.
Essentially, the car can slightly alter the angle of its rear wheels to either reduce its turning circle at low speeds or to offer more stability and control at higher speeds. It might seem a little gimmicky but it works, and it’s a real thrill rocketing through corners and feeling the rear wheels subtly working to guide the car round with confidence and much less risk of the trailing throttle oversteer the 911’s susceptible to.
Dial the accelerator back and suddenly things settle down remarkably. The 911 has always been one of the most usable cars of its kind day to day, and switching it from Sport back into Normal will quieten the exhaust and make it an amazingly liveable car that you’d be very happy to sit comfortably in up long stretches of motorway.
The steering’s fantastically accurate, guiding the nose of the car across apexes with fastidious precision
Did you know?
According to development drivers, the marque sent a large number of the early test mules back to engineers to ensure the newly turbocharged cars sounded “Porsche” enough.
Interior And Equipment
Inside, the addition of the new Porsche Communication Management infotainment system as standard with a seven-inch touchscreen means that the new 911 is a lot easier to use than before too. The centre console-mounted screen also supports sat-nav, smartphone connectivity and real-time traffic information and is infinitely more responsive than the previous version.
Elsewhere, the cabin is mostly as before but then that’s no bad thing with its compact steering wheel derived from the 918 Spyder, plus a low driving position and snug, supportive sports seats. Standard equipment across the board includes a leather interior and dual-zone climate control, plus bi-xenon headlights and an anti-theft tracking system.
The controls are all well laid out and the interior materials of high quality, and there’s even room in the back for small children - or for an adult or two provided you’re only doing extremely short trips. It’s probably better to treat the rear seats simply as an extra storage area though, with 260 litres of space in the back in addition to the 145-litre boot compartment under the front bonnet.
It’s not quite supercar expensive, but the 911 is still nowhere near cheap. Prices for the entry-level Carrera start from £76,412 while the Carrera 4S is priced from £90,843 and the range-topping Targa 4S will set you back a significant £99,684.
The 4S is cheaper than the BMW M6 by a significant amount, but it’s still pricier than other rivals like the Jaguar F-TYPE. Also, if you’re the sort who absolutely must have a 911 with a naturally aspirated engine you’ll either have to go used or fork out £100k+ for a GT3 RS.
The better news is that thanks to the new turbocharger technology Porsche claims that the 911’s efficiency has been boosted by as much as 12 per cent, meaning that fuel economy clocks in at a maximum of 38.2mpg with CO2 emissions from 169g/km.
Thanks to the new turbocharger technology Porsche claims that the 911’s efficiency has been boosted by as much as 12 per cent.
The new post-turbo Carrera 4S is probably as far as you can get from the notion of a classic 911, but of all the current Carrera range it’s the best all-rounder and the pick of the bunch.
There’s no denying the sound and responsiveness of the old naturally aspirated engines will be missed, but at the same time there’s no denying either that the 911 is still a brilliantly handling, great looking and ferociously fast car.
It’s not enough to ruin what is and what has always been a truly great sports car, and we defy any diehard purist to spend 20 minutes in the new Carrera 4S and not be a convert. The 911 is one of the most iconic names in sports car history and with its ballistic performance, high quality and even decent running costs, it’s sure to stay that way.