First came the rain and later the snow...foul weather to some, but perfect for our day in Austria just outside Graz. We weren't there for the scenery or the wines, but for traction...rather, for the lack of traction. And with good reason.
Video window may take a few moments to load...
When launched the newest 911 - the 991 - it made about two-thirds of its 911 customers happy. The other third are those, many in states with more aggressive climates, who demand an all-wheel-drive 911.
Their wait is over. The "4" is back.
The 4 is, of course, the number of wheels that get traction in the Carrera 4. There are several models, the standard 350-bhp version as a coupe ($91,030) or Cabriolet ($102,930) or the 400-bhp S variant, again closed ($105,630) or folding top ($117,530). Transmissions are the 7-speed manual or the slick-shifting PDK, again with 7 ratios.
Porsche pegs 0-60 coupe times in the normal 4 at 4.7 seconds for the manual, 4.5 if you take the PDK. The S option cuts those numbers to 4.3 and 4.1 seconds respectively. Top speeds are the mid-170s for the 4 and mid-180s with the 4S.
Today's realities also suggest we point out that mpg for the 4 Coupe is roughly 19-20 mpg city, 27-29 mpg highway, the 4S managing 18-19 city/26 highway.
What matters here, of course, is the drive to all four wheels. While the basic components of the system with its electronically controlled, multi-plate clutch, are little changed from the last Carrera 4, the software that commands it has been altered.
Generally the front/rear torque split begins at 0 percent front/100 percent rear, which is natural for a 911 and optimizes fuel economy. Let the traction slip, so to speak, and that rear-mounted power can be delivered to the front wheels. In theory it could go to 100 percent front/0 percent rear, but in reality you see a max of about 54 percent front/ 46 percent rear. That's where the snow and its slickness came into play as we slithered through icy mountains in Austria.
Most importantly, the system works very nicely. And you can see it. A new gauge on the instrument panel signals via bar graphs how much power is going front or back. This isn't, of course, stump-pulling all-wheel drive, but the sort that gives a car like an assured sense of balance as you crank into a damp or snowy corner.
Match the all-wheel drive to such electronic wizards as torque vectoring or ABS and you can confidently rush a 911 Carrera 4 through the wet or white woods.
Other than the badging there are few ways to visually spot a Carrera 4. Up front are new intakes low and to the sides. There are now blacked-sill panels, while outback is a taillight that spans the width of the car under the spoiler. The true tech heads will notice the near-one-inch wider fender flares that cover a slightly wider track.
There's more, like Porsche Active Safety, a new glass sunroof and automatic double declutching during downshifting of the manual.
But most importantly for that one-third of 911 buyers, the "4" is back.