If you weren’t born into wealth, aren’t on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list or have yet to purchase a winning lottery ticket, it is time for plan B. Maybe you can be the next Youtube sensation to go viral, or maybe you have a hidden talent that could win the next X Factor? Whatever it takes, there may be no better reason to amass a moderate amount of wealth than the vehicle featured here; the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.
|1. The 3.8L flat-6 engine produces 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque.
2. Available transmissions include a 7-Speed PDK dual-clutch automatic of an industry first 7-speed manual with a rev-matching feature.
3. The C4S will hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds with the manual or as little as 3.9 seconds with the PDK and Sport Chrono package.
4. Priced from $105,630, our test car was optioned up to $124,455.
If you’re like the AutoGuide staff members, the 911 Carrera 4S is something attainable only in dreams. Starting at $105,630, our test car was optioned up to an as tested price of $124,455. This puts it firmly beyond the realistic means of most people not willing to subscribe to the school of Bernie Madoff economics.
Despite its high price tag, the 911 sells and has now for 50 years. Not only is it quite a feat in the automotive world to keep a nameplate around for half a century, but the 911 could well be the poster child for status quo motoring. The same basic shape and rear engine layout have been included in every one of those 50 years, and chances are it will never change; how could it?
But this doesn’t mean constant improvements are made to the legendary 911. Last year brought an all new Carrera and this year all-wheel drive models have been added. Designated by the number 4 on the trunk, the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 comes in the same flavors as the rear-wheel drive Carrera; regular or S, and as either a cabriolet or a coupe.
Being a Carrera 4S, our test vehicle dumps the 350 hp 3.4-liter flat-six motor found in lesser Carreras, for a fire breathing 3.8-liter version that produces 400 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque.
Sending all this power to the Porsche Traction Management (Porsche speak for all-wheel drive) system is a choice of either a dual-clutch 7-speed PDK automatic or the world’s first 7-speed stick shift.
Our test car came equipped with the latter, as any Porsche should. It is rated at 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, and during a heavy footed week of driving returned an average of 20.3 mpg – not bad for a 400 hp sports car.
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However, fuel efficiency is clearly not what the Carrera 4S is about; performance is. Porsche claims this car can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 4.3 seconds, and continue all the way up to a top speed of 185 mph. The Flat-6 doesn’t provide the instant torque felt in some larger or boosted engines, but get it above 5,000 rpms and it comes alive. Making this velocity all the more glorious is the sound that emits from the 3.8 L engine.
Press the sport exhaust button on the center console and back pressure is reduced in the quad tip exhaust system allowing for more boxer-engine roar. If that were not enough, there is a Sound Symposer connected to the motor’s intake that reverberates engine roar against the rear wall of the cabin in a similar fashion to how a sub-woofer operates. The rumbles, barks and pops coming from behind your ears are intoxicating and unless driving near a senior’s residence or hospital zone, the exhaust button needs to always be on.
Taking full advantage of this mechanical symphony is the 7-speed manual transmission. This was our first time experiencing the new stick and we’re impressed.
Although seven forward gears may seem like a bit much, it works well in this package. Gear changes require moderate effort and slide firmly into each gate. All the gears are spaced closely together and allow the engine to stay in its maximum operating range when driven hard. Then, when your fun is over, 7th gear works as a great overdrive gear for the subdued cruise home.
For those lacking the ability to perform precise heel-toe shifts, or who want to shave a few tenths off their lap times, there is the ability to have the 911 rev-match downshifts all by itself. By pressing the Sport Plus button, the 911 will instantly blip the throttle to the appropriate rpm the moment the gear shifter is moved into a lower gear. All the driver needs to do is then let go of the clutch and the car seamlessly grabs the gear. This not only makes a novice driver look like a hero, but will also ultimately save wear and tear on the gearbox.
Ensuring power is kept under control is the PTM system. Like the Mentalist, it appears as though the AWD system can read the driver’s mind, keeping the 911 on the intended path at all times, in all road conditions. There is an absence of understeer or oversteer in this car when driven aggressively, but push it to the limit and of course the laws of physics take over and the rear-heavy backend begins to rotate around.
The suspension is firm, like any good sports car should be, and can be unbearable for downtown city driving when the shocks tighten up in sport mode. That said, for all the performance this car is capable of, the ride is quite tolerable in regular suspension mode; Porsche dialed in just the right amount of comfort.
Steering feel may have been diluted a bit last year when the 911 switched to an electric-assist set-up, but the Carrera 4S still has some of the best feedback, precision and feel available on any steering rack sold today.
At 3,186 lbs., the relatively lightweight Carrera 4S stays glued to the road through corners thanks to meaty 245/35R20 tires up front and wide 305/30R20 steamrollers in the rear. Being a manual transmission Carrera 4S, the car comes equipped with mechanically locking differentials front and back while those with the PDK transmission make do with electronically controlled diffs.
Those thick tires need more room under the 911’s body and get it thanks to wider fenders. While other minor styling cues help set the AWD Carrera apart from its rear-drive sibling, nothing it as obvious as the 4-inch wider rear end.
Our test vehicle included the optional Carrera Classic wheels that look stunning in conjunction with the white paint job and red brake calipers. Another item added to the build sheet of this Carrera 4S is the optional rearward sliding glass sunroof that dominates the majority of the roof. Not only does it provide a welcome dose of natural light into the cabin, but also looks great from the outside.
What doesn’t look great, however, is driving around the suburbs with the rear spoiler fully deployed. If you are lucky enough to own of these beauties, please do us all a favor and don’t press the manual spoiler-up button; ever.
Inside it’s all business behind the wheel. The seat can be adjusted 18 ways and is both comfortable and supportive. The pedals are laid out perfectly and the 7-speed manual gear shifter is set high and easily in reach of the right arm. Below it are all the buttons that matter to a 911. There is the sport, sport plus, sport suspension, sport exhaust, stability control, spoiler adjustment and start/stop buttons. They can all be turned on and off independently and some should always remain on, while others should always be off (Recap: exhaust on, sport plus on, spoiler off).
SEE ALSO: 2013 Porsche Boxster Review - Video
The 911 features a five-pod gauge cluster with the second pod from the right being completely customizable. Here, information like AWD distribution, g forces, lap times, navigation, audio information or vehicle fluid temperatures can be shown. The 4.41 cu- ft frunk (front trunk) can hold quite a bit thanks to its rectangular shape. We were able to fit a whole week's worth of groceries for two up there. If more space is needed, there are the two mostly-useless rear seats that can store more cargo. Finally, the Bose audio package must be included when equipping this vehicle as it nearly rivals the engine for audio nirvana.
The Carrera really is an all-out assault on your senses; the sound of the engine, the feel of the road and the look over the classic 911 hood. Throw in all-weather traction, a somewhat usable frunk/rear seat combo plus decent gas mileage, and the 911 is almost practical; almost.
Making the Porsche truly special is that when you add all these factors together it genuinely feels like its worth every penny of its high price tag, which is more than can be said for many equally expensive machines.
It is this value amongst high priced near-exotics that may be the true secret to the 911’s long-running success. That, and the fact it is one hell of a car to drive.