Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Review: Usable Nirvana
What makes a perfect daily drivable sportscar? It is a tough question when you think about it. Sure, there are plenty of cars that offer heart-pounding performance, yet offer little in the way of usability and versatility. Once a single-model automaker, Porsche now provides a wide range of models that allow for comfortable, multi-passenger motoring. While SUVs and four door performance saloons are currently all the rage, a brand like Porsche is nothing without its connection to the past. The 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S is the singular vehicle that represents the connection to the brand’s roots, while simultaneously points to all the great things going for the brand into the future. Oh yeah, its one hell of a fun driver too.
Before Porsche expanded into its model lineup of vehicles, it mastered variations on a single model. From Targa, to Turbo, to S, to RS, to 4S, and more, the 911 is a car with many flavors.
A Middle Child. A Really, Really Angry Middle Child:
To call the 4S “middle-of-the-road” would be an entire disservice to everything this model is capable of. Sure, its 3.8-liter flat-six is larger (and more importantly, more powerful) than the 3.6-liter unit found in the base 911. With 400 horsepower on tap and a tremendous exhaust roar from the exhaust, this is as angry as a middle child as one could want. Seriously, there is little need for the excess power of the Turbo, or the uncomfortable stripped-down packaging of the GT and RS variants.
With a zero-to-sixty time of 4.3 seconds, a sublime seven-speed manual transmission and the peace-of-mind and winter capability of all-wheel drive- what’s not to love? Oh, speaking of peace-of-mind, the rear-engined Porsche’s are known for a derriere that loves to get sideways. The added power to the front wheels is just enough to right that tedious aspect of the car’s handling.
I don’t want to say the last 146 words on performance are a waste- but what do you really need to know about the car’s handling? It’s a Porsche; it is going to slay the road. But what makes a Porsche a Porsche is the ability to deliver that superlative performance while simultaneously accommodating the driver and passengers in a manner to which $109,000 should be paired. Translation- it is as luxurious as it is fast. That notion is satisfied with heated and cooled, 14-way leather bucket seats envelop the driver and front passenger, while a Burmester premium stereo delivers one of the most articulate sounds available in a car today.
The 911 has back seats, but just barely. For infants, small children and golf bags, the seats are perfect. For adults, past experience as a contortionist is necessary to enjoy the diminutive space afforded. But hypothetically four people can sit in the back seats, which makes it more usable than other two-seat sportscars on the market.
This is a near-perfect sportscar. One day, Porsche will hire away the engineers at CERN and other small particle accelerators, so they can focus on something more important- making the rear seats of the 911 more usable. When that day comes, this will be a 100% car- until then, it is still exponentially more important to have a car with barely usable back seats than it is to have an SUV or silly four-door sports car.
Model: 911 Carrera 4S
Engine: 3.8-liter flat-six
MPG: 18/26 (21.5 observed in mixed driving)
All photos: George Kennedy for BoldRide.