It’s hard to argue that the Porsche 911 remains the sports car by which all others are judged, and here we take a closer look at the 2019 Porsche Carrera 4S. It's the priciest and most elaborate Carrera of the new-generation model, and the variant for Porsche fans who absolutely must have AWD.
Our test car sits, bathing in the morning light, resplendent in vibrant yellow. Plenty of people have asked, ‘Why would you have a yellow Porsche?’ during our week with the 911. Interesting. Australians are nothing if not boring when it comes to colour choice on cars.
Looking at the 4S now, in the clean morning light, I’m struggling to work out why you wouldn’t own a yellow Porsche. De-winged and pure, the 911 is a classically elegant silhouette, and yellow works well with the curves and bulges.
Our test car certainly stands out against the white, black and silver hordes you see on the road in Australia. I love winged, hardcore Porsches, but the very best of the breed in my opinion is the classic, unfettered 911.
According to Porsche, this new 911 – referred to internally as the 992 series – is 80 per cent new. I’ll refrain from the jokes about all 911s looking the same, because whether you buy into that theory or not,
Porsche engineers are constantly tweaking, modifying, revising and redesigning components with each generation to further advance the 911’s performance boundaries. This current 911 is no different – and it is some sports car.
In line with where it sits in the 911 line-up, the Carrera 4S starts from just over $280K – $281,100 to be specific. The question Porsche buyers perennially face is where the options kick in and to what extent do you start ticking boxes? Do you need Sport Chrono, for example? Almost certainly yes in a model like the 4S. Will you be happy if you don’t tick that box? I’d suggest probably not.
Our tester has some, shall we say, costly options, too. Sport Chrono costs $4890, Dynamic Chassis Control Sport costs $6750, the sports exhaust is $5480, the adaptive seats are $2850, and the yellow seatbelts $930. Our test car also has rear-wheel steering, which adds another $4730. That rounds the starting price out to beyond $320,000.
Now, getting back to what I mentioned above, the only option I could absolutely live without is the seatbelts. I’d want the exhaust, Sport Chrono, the Chassis Control, and I guess you could also live without the adaptive seats. The rear-wheel steering makes a big difference day to day, too.
Should some of those options be standard? Probably. It’s the conversation we have regularly with Porsche product in the CarAdvice office, and we can’t really come to an agreement on it either. Buyers at this end of the market probably couldn't care less about the cost of options. But, if that’s the case, charge more and make them standard – especially as you work your way further up the 911 model range.
On test here we have the aforementioned 2019 911 Carrera 4S, which of course gets more power than the base Carrera and AWD. At the rear, power comes from the latest-generation 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged engine.
It punches out 331kW at 6500rpm and 530Nm between 2300–5000rpm. Is that enough power and torque? Yes. Yes it is. Especially if you intend to drive your 911 every day and also retain your licence.
There’s the de rigueur eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that Porsche refers to as PDK, and it remains as digital and lightning fast as ever. It’s staggering how sharp the shifts are, and you’re constantly left wondering why other manufacturers can’t deliver the same experience.
While we generally love the purity of the RWD Porsche experience, I cannot argue with the AWD system in play here. It does nothing to remove the connected feel you get behind the wheel, or the way in which the 911 interacts with the road beneath it.
So well sorted is the chassis, you forget the 4S is AWD most of the time anyway, and it doesn’t tend to any of the AWD nastiness from the bad old days either.
Combined fuel use is claimed to be 9.0L/100km, but you’ll easily use 13–14L/100km as we did on test. Head to your favourite twisty road or a track day, and the figure will go north from there, of course.
So, the modern world of all-turbo might not be quite as efficient as we thought, and some of you might still be lamenting the lack of an atmo 911, but unless you like your 911 slower and with less power, I’m not sure what you’re sad about.
I love the way Porsche executes cabin design – especially in a segment that could be so heavily compromised. We’ve written it here many times before, and I think it might have been Curt Dupriez who coined the phrase originally, but Porsche doesn’t really do ‘cheap’.
As such, every Porsche cabin, no matter how much money you’ve spent, has a measure of premium to it. The Carrera 4S is no exception.
Everything works as it should: CarPlay was faultless on test, Bluetooth never dropped out either, the native satellite navigation was accurate and quick, and the revised switchgear is placed smartly and responds exceptionally well to inputs.
If you’re using your 911 daily, you’ll argue that you could do with some more storage space, but you need to go in knowing that you’re buying a sports car, too.
The 911 remains ridiculously easy to use as a daily driver. It’s something that has always set the standard in this segment and continues to be the case – with only the Audi R8 genuinely coming close.
The seat height, door apertures, sills and general layout all make entry and egress easier than any other proper sports car. There’s also the physical size of the 911, which places it beautifully in the traffic, where it is neither difficult to drive, manoeuvre or park.
It goes without saying that you’ll need to get your 911 to a racetrack if you intend to explore the outer limits of its performance capabilities. The 4S is stupendously fast when you want it to be, but where it shines brightest is how effortlessly it deals with the daily grind.
The ride, in particular, is well beyond the comfort level you could rightly expect from anything that performs the way a 911 can.
It soaks up bumps effortlessly, and never crashes through nasty sections of road. It’s a marvel the way Porsche has tuned the 911 to do what it does at both ends of the spectrum. More so when you factor in the 20-inch wheels that it is rolling on – 245/35 tyres up front and 305/30 out back – and the whopping grip that rubber provides.
As ever, the electrically assisted power steering is razor sharp and direct. It makes you want to drive the 911 more, and it is so responsive to inputs that it adds to the feeling of balance and surety. I love how precise the 911 is when you really hook into a twisty road, but also how easy it feels when you’re stuck in traffic. The duality of character is hard to get your head around.
The mid-range punch afforded by the twin turbos is proper shove-you-back-in-the-seat material, and while the engine doesn’t have the ultimate purity of a naturally aspirated engine, it’s so accomplished you’ll hardly notice.
The whooshing and pumping of the turbos actually add to the theatre when you’re having fun, which is a bonus in my book, and the engine note is still purposeful and raspy – as a Porsche engine should be.
The Carrera 4S is a brilliant sports car that does the one thing all sports cars need to do in spades – it makes you want to drive it more. I still respect the Carrera S, in terms of purity and style, but the 4S is a sensational car.
I write this nearly every time I review a 911, but I still think the following statement is true. Buy as much 911 as your budget will allow, and you’ll be a happy camper. It’s that simple.