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Car review: Porsche 911 Carrera 4

The Porsche 911 Carrera 4 has the classic look of the original but updated with all-wheel drive. "Impressive," says car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4

When your three-year-old son begs you to go for another ride in daddy's racing car, you know the motor sitting on your drive is a true big boy's toy.

Without a doubt, the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 seems to stir up my childhood memories.

I had handfuls of Corgi and Dinky cars and the Porsche models were always the ones I cherished the most.

I even had a Porsche police car as part of my Race and Chase game – a dodgy imitation of the far superior Scalextric slot-car set.

So, even though I can't afford one now I'm all grown up with children of my own (and so need a family car) I never pass up the opportunity to borrow a Porsche.

Classic coupe shape

The 911 in particular seems to have an effect on everyone – including my little lad. But why?

Well, I reckon it's the classic coupe shape, pictured below.

Back of a Porsche 911 classic shape 

There's also the pure racing-car yowl the rear-engined beast makes when it comes alive.

It's an iconic sports car – simple as that.

All-wheel-drive

The current Carrera 4 builds upon the legend further by providing all-wheel-drive.

The four-by-four grip is supplied via wizardry known as Porsche Traction Management.

This precisely distributes power to the front and rear axles as road and driving conditions change and makes for a thrilling, responsive, yet fantastically stable drive.

Unbelievably, despite the shot of adrenaline the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 gives you every time you go out for a spin, it doesn't gobble up fuel.

Decent fuel economy at 30mpg

On a trip from the Midlands to Norfolk I averaged 30mpg. That isn't bad when you consider a 3.4-litre lump is shoehorned into the car.

Behind the wheel, that powerhouse enables magic to happen every time you touch the throttle pedal.

Fuel is injected fractions of a second prior to combustion, with the engine responding spontaneously to even the slightest movement of your right foot.

This isn't only the case when accelerating, but also when lifting off.

The seven-speed manual transmission also adds to the entertainment mix. Its slick action soon makes it seem entirely natural to shift all the way up to that seventh cog on the straights.

Classic looks

As for looks: well I've touched a little on those already – the shape of the 911 is the meat in the sandwich.

Aside from brute force, it's why you buy the car. So, subtlety is what the present Carrera 4 is all about.

Look close enough and you'll see modifications to the nose and tail.

There's also the more overt use of lighting technology: bi-xenon headlights and gorgeous, sparkly, LED daytime driving lights are fitted as standard.

The 911 Carrera 4 is also wider across the rear wheel arches than its two-wheel-drive sibling.

And further definition is added courtesy of a reflective trim that spans the width between the striking LED rear lights.

From £77,924

The contemporary Porsche 911 Carrera 4 is priced from £77,924, but you could end up spending thousands more on all the option packages available.

Rest assured though – your pricey pride and joy won't go missing very easily.

Fitted to every 911 is a Porsche vehicle tracking system, a sophisticated vehicle security package approved to Thatcham Category 5 standard. Can't be bad, eh? 

Porsche 911 Carrera 4: Pros & cons

  • Iconic looks √
  • Rapid √
  • Grip √
  • Fuel economy √
  • Expensive options list X

Porsche 911 Carrera 4: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 177 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 4.9 secs
  • Combined mpg: 30.4
  • Engine: 3436 cc, 6 cylinders, 24 valve, petrol
  • Max. power (bhp): 345 at 7400 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 288 at 5600 rpm
  • CO2: 219 g/km
  • Price: £77,924 

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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