Test Drive: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 image

There’s a big difference between seeing a Motorsport race at the TV and when you’re actually in the stands, or even better – somewhere near the pit lane.

The same happens when you have to test a Porsche 911. You know that 911 is one of the best cars in the world, is one of the oldest sports coupe nameplates still in production (50 years now!) and it won a lot of competitions … so you do expect something different. But the difference between what you expect and what really is a 911;well … is big.
The smell, the sound of the engine when it starts, the position you have behind the steering wheel … everything makes you feel that you really drive a sports car.

A friend of mine told me a while ago in Italian: “che dire esternamente una favolosa sportiva internamente un capolavoro di computer che strabilia ma quando parti li si capisce veramente la progressione mista all’alta tecnologia della Porsche con un cambio eccezionale ed una spinta infinita soprattutto nella sequenza sport plus”

In English this means “What to say … externally a fabulous sports car, internally a piece of art that amazes, but when it starts, you will truly understand Porsche’s progress; a machine with a fabulous gearbox and with an amazing sprint in Sport+ mode”.

Considering that the Carrera 4 (the all-wheel-drive model) accounted for 34 percent of all 911 sales worldwide – it was clear that Porsche will continue to produce the 4×4 911 that is very popular these days. Compared to the rear-wheel drive model, the all-wheel drive 911 comes with larger rear fenders (+0.9 inch or 22.86mm), the latest version of Porsche’s Traction Management and of course the ‘4’ signature – a strip of red LED lighting that connects the taillights (it looks fantastic).

Talking about Porsche’s new Traction Management – when you start the front/rear torque split begins at 100 percent rear, nothing new here – but the system is now capable to send up to 54 per cent front/46 per cent rear in just 100 milliseconds or less if it feels that the rear wheels are losing traction.
In addition, during cornering, the optimal level of drive power is distributed to the front wheels to ensure excellent lateral stability. In conjunction with Porsche Stability Management (PSM) (I’ll explain later what it is and how it works) the car is “glued” to road and will go exactly where you want. Yes, Porsche says the all-wheel drive models still feel and drive like rear-wheel drive ones, but these systems – the Stability Management (PSM), Traction Management (PTM), Porsche Active Suspension Management and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) will make the car so stable and so connected to the road that it’s almost impossible to lose ground, or even oversteer; this car simply goes where is pointed.! You have to press all the buttons to disable all the electronics to have some fun.

Additionally, for the first time you have a color display beside the tachometer showing which wheel is receiving what torque.

Engine, transmission and performance
These days, the main word used in the auto industry is “reduction”. Reduction in terms of fuel economy, CO2 emissions, engine size, weight… and so on. It’s exactly what the Stutgard based automaker did with the new 911 Carrera 4 – 991 model is the first 911 to use predominantly aluminum construction, the engine reverts to a 3.4-liter version of the Boxster/Cayman S tuned to yield 350bhp and as expected, even if the car’s overall length grows by 2.2 inches (+ 56mm) and wheelbase grows by 3.9 inches (+100 mm) (now 96.5 in – 2451 mm.) the new model is faster than the outgoing variant. When equipped with PDK gearbox and the optional sports chrono package, the 991 911 Carrera 4 can accelerate from 0 to 100 in 4.5 seconds. Even if the ‘4’ model has 50 kg more over a rear-drive 991, the Germans claim the 991 ‘4’ is up to 65kg lighter than the equivalent 997.2.

Fortunately, our car was equipped with the optional 7-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung), a gearbox that can change up and down with lightning speed, and helps the car “eat” a little less gasoline.

But for the moment, let’s forget about the fuel consumption because, when equipped with this automatic double clutch gearbox, the 911 is capable to shave almost 8 seconds from the lap time, clocked by the manually equipped model on, “the Ring,” not to mention a few tenths of a second off the zero to 100 time.

Yes, many enthusiasts will say that you “feel” the car if it is manual (the new 911 comes with a seven-speed manual as standard) – but the PDK is so good and so fast that it will make you completely forget the manual. In SPORT+ mode, the change between the 1st and 2nd gear is not fast – is instant; but you realize just after you hear the sound of this gearbox – it sounds like a thunderstorm –very very violent; something that really makes you smile. This is the reason why, for example, Porsche decided to leave out the manual option entirely for upper 911 models (turbo and turbo S), so this probably marks the disappearance of the manual for further Porsche cars in general.

Suspension, handling, breaking
It’s a sports car, so expect stiff suspensions, even without activating the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) that will lower the car by 10 mm – but the comfort levels are acceptable unless you caught out some really sharp bumps. If you activate the Active Suspension Management – PASM the car will lower by 10mm; but what’s really interesting is that even with the system turned on, on uneven roads, PASM immediately switches to a softer rating, thereby improving contact between the wheels and the road. When the road surface improves, PASM automatically reverts to the original, harder rating. We’ve tested this system on different road surfaces and let me tell you that many times you can really feel the difference.

But the biggest difference in terms of handling comes with Porche’s new electromechanical power steering. It was introduced to save fuel. Our car was equipped with “Power steering Plus” an optional that costs €268. Basically, at high speeds, the steering is at firm extreme precision, while steering comfort remains as high. At low speeds, the steering ratio of Power steering Plus adjusts for much easier manoeuvring and parking. Without knowing that our car was equipped with this optional, during my first minutes I was very disappointed, but shorty I realized I might miss something. As soon you rev-up the steering gets more precise, more connected to the road, more “mechanical”. Is it as good as the old steering? At high speeds I’ll say yes; 95 percent yes.

Four-piston aluminum monobloc fixed calipers will help you stop this pierce of engineering without any problem. However if you want more breaking-power you can get Porsche’s Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) that will cost you about € 8.508,50.

Inside there’s a Panamera air somehow. But what’s nice is that the new design has more of a cockpit feel, with its high center console including some ancillary switch gear but very little storage. Visibility is excellent; better than Porsche’s own mid-engined Cayman.
You have a touch-screen for controlling the navigation, radio and many other functions but you hardly ever need to touch it. Our car was not equipped with the 18-way Adaptive Sport Seats Plus offered by Porsche for € 6,600, but even so the driving position is great. And oh, by the way – on the back you still have 2 seats, but I wouldn’t suggest using them for more than 50km. Fine leather is almost everywhere.

Fuel consumption
Stop-start idle control is standard now, but it can be turned off if you find it annoying. Also, like I said before the steering is electrical. Moreover, the electronically variable oil pump ensures a reliable supply of oil even when a sporty driving style is adopted. Basically the car will ramp up the oil pressure only when it identifies track driving behaviors. Impressive!
Porsche says the new 911 Carrera 4 will burn 13.2l/ 100km (21.4 mpg) inside the city and 7.1 (39.8 mpg) outside. Well we’ve tested the car for over 1000 km and our figures are as following: 7.8/100km on the highway and about 13.9l/100 km inside center Milan. These are excellent figures for a car that is capable to reach 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds.

Should I buy one?
It depends – it depends where you live and it depends on your life style. One think is clear – this car is easy to use, easy to drive, the steering at low speeds is very light so you can park quickly. Also the visibility is great. So if you live somewhere near the mountains go for the ‘4’ Carrera, otherwise if you’re going to save your 911 for summer – then I think the rear-wheel drive Carrera is a better option – and you save about €7,000 for other optionals .

Likes / Dislikes
Plus for:
– All-wheel-drive traction that somehow doesn’t compromise the rear-wheel-drive handling; very fluid thru the corners
– Great fuel economy for what this car is
– Fantastic 7-speed automatic transmission; very elastic gearbox
– Can be used as an all-day car
– Nice navigation; nice colors / high resolution display
– Sport exhaust system; it costs //// but it worth all the money trust me !
Minus for:
– expensive options

Tested vehicle
2013 Porsche Carrera 4
Base price: 100.987,00 € – our car: 128.473,60 €
Engine: 3,436 cm³ flat six
Power: 257kW (350 hp) at 7400rpm
Transmission: 7-spd automatic, AWD
Torque: 390Nm at 5600rpm
CO2 emissions: 219 g/km
Weight: 1505kg
Top Speed: 283 km/h (175 mph)
Fuel Tank: 68 liters
Trunk capacity: 125 liters
0-100: 4.5 seconds (PDK and chrono package)
0-160: 10.2 seconds
80-120: 2.9 seconds