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2020 Porsche Carrera 4S changes pay attention to detail

Porsche designers have perfected the art of making the new look like the old

Published: December 15, 2019, 5:00 AM

Porsche Carrera 4S

2020 Porsche Carrera 4S

PROS

  • A true GT that is happy as a daily driver
  • Engine, transmission, steering, brakes and suspension
  • Grip, etc.

CONS

  • Extra cost for features standard on much less expensive vehicles
  • Mind boggling option sheet
  • Outside instruments blocked by steering wheel

Porsche Carrera 4S

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The new Porsche 911 Carrera looks very much like the old one … unless you are a Porschephile or look pay close attention to detail.

The 992, as the eighth generation is known internally, for 2020 is new from road to roof and bumper to bumper. It looks very much like the outgoing model because Porsche designers wanted it to. They have perfected the art of making the new look like the old, but a myriad of little touches reminds you of the effort they put into the redesign beyond an overall length that is up a scant 20 mm.

Porsche Carrera 4S

The new hood has a recessed center portion much like that of the air-cooled 911 days. The front end is wider by 45 mm in order to accommodate larger wheels and tires, with the fat rear arches containing wheels that are wider than the fronts. The electrically activated door handles are flush with the surface until you come close with the key fob in your possession. At this point they pop out so you can pull the handle. The rear lights run the full width of the vehicle.

There is 33% more aluminum in the body, which cuts 20 kg from vehicle weight. But that and more is put back in by extra equipment, a larger cooling system, bigger brakes and larger wheels, bringing overall weight up 48 kg over the outgoing model. But, don’t worry; there is more power to compensate.

Change is an inside job

Porsche Carrera 4S

The changes become more evident when you fold yourself into the sport seats. A big 28-cm touchscreen occupies a central position above the console. In typical Porsche fashion, the tachometer lies front and center, flanked by a pair of thin frameless electronic displays. Unfortunately, the outer instruments are blocked by the steering wheel.

New technology abounds, including onboard Wi-Fi.

The dynamics of change

Porsche Carrera 4S

The core theme during development of this car was lateral dynamics. The front track is 46 cm wider and staggered wheels are standard - 20-inch up front and 21-in at the rear. Spring rates are up 15% in front and 14% at the rear, the steering is 10% more direct. The PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) has been upgraded, reacting within 100 milliseconds.

The turbocharged flat-6 has been updated as well, with 20% of the parts new, including the heads, turbochargers, fuel injection system and intercoolers. It sits 20 cm further forward than the outgoing model. And thanks to the new turbos, it produces 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque (increases of 7% and 6%, respectively).

Porsche Carrera 4S

The mind-reading PDK automatic transmission now has eight forward gears, up from seven last year. That is enough to get the Carrera 4S to 100 km from a dead stop in three seconds flat with the aid of launch control. The quarter mile passed in 11.8 seconds at 208 km/h, on the way to 256 km/h before I ran out of room on the airport runway. It was still pulling strongly at that point, so I see no reason to question the claimed top speed of 306 km/h in sixth gear.

Massive (245/35/20 front and 305/30/21 rear) performance tires and a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system ensure maximum grip under a wide variety of conditions, from using launch control or powering through a high speed (155 km/h) slalom course, to coping with a slippery winter road. The grip and balance during the high-speed slalom, in Sports Plus mode, put a smile on my face and tested the bolstering on the sport seats. The same suspension, in “normal” setting, soaked up some pretty nasty secondary roads.

Porsche Carrera 4S

The brakes are beyond impressive, erasing speed with complete ease time and time again with no sign of fade. The steering could be described as talkative – constantly letting you know, accurately, what was going on beneath those two front contact patches. The solidity of the chassis is readily evident when a nasty bump is encountered.

Let there be no doubt, this is a high-performance automobile!

From a roar to a purr

Porsche Carrera 4S

But it can also be a pussy cat, content to poke around town or in heavy traffic with no complaints. The exhaust note is always there, but subdued until you press the loud pedal or toggle the switch to activate the sport exhaust system. There is a new “wet” mode that, when it acoustically detects water on the road, warns the driver and preconditions various systems to cope with the reduced grip and likelihood of aquaplaning.

The new 911 Carrera came to these shores a few months ago, followed by the Carrera 4. Both are available as coupe or convertible and are powered by a 379-hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-6 mated to the new 8-speed PDK. The latest arrivals are the Carrera S and the 4S we drove. They get a larger 4.0-litre engine and other upgrades. 

Porsche Carrera 4S

The Carrara 4S starts at $137,100. The one I drove had $32,400 in options, bumping the tag to $169,500 before delivery and taxes!

It is easy to see why Canadians love Porsche. We are the seventh largest market for the marque globally.

Porsche Carrera 4S

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: $137,100 base, $169,500 as tested plus freight and taxes

Engine: 4.0-litre, horizontally opposed 6-cylinder, 443-hp, 390 lb-ft of torque, premium fuel recommended.

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic

Drive wheels: all-wheel drive

NRCan Fuel Consumption (litres/100km city/highway): 12.1 / 11.0

Length: 4,519 mm

Width: 2,024 mm

Wheelbase: 2,450 mm

Weight: 1,537 kg

Options: Heated steering wheel, $370; Alcantara roof liner, $1,560; leather interior, $4,370; rear axle steering, $2,390; sport exhaust, $3,370; sunroof, $2,280; Porsche crest on head restraints, $370; Carrera Classic wheels, $1,430; Porsche comfort access, $630; electric folding mirrors, $420; interior painted in exterior colour, $1,440; LED matrix headlights, $3,730; Sport Chrono package, $3,100; red tachometer face, $480; BOSE audio, $1,820, red seat belts, $620; power seats with memory, $2,650 ambient lighting, $630 and Sport Chrono clock face in red, $480.