DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

CHANGES to what is un­of­fi­cially called the 997.5 mean this ver­sion of the 911 drives with a lit­tle more steer­ing feel and less cor­ner­ing push.

On the de­sign front, it’s dif­fi­cult for some to pick the up­dated Car­rera 4 and 4S over the 997 se­ries, but be­hind the wheel the up­dated all-wheel-drive 911 coupe and cabri­o­lets are a clear and de­ci­sive step for­ward.

On a 170km drive in the Lowen­berger re­gion just out­side Ber­lin, the C4 and C4S were put through smooth top roads, patch­work bi­tu­men, bumpy sur­faces and nar­row cob­ble­stone lanes.

In ret­ro­spect it was a brave move. They were not roads that suited the Ac­tive Damp­ing set-up where ride height is low­ered by 20mm in con­junc­tion with the Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment fea­ture.

Yet the ride on the su­per-low­pro­file 19-inch rub­ber on the launch cars was sur­pris­ingly not jar­ring, though at times there was a ten­dency to pick up ev­ery lit­tle im­per­fec­tion and cor­ru­ga­tion on the road.

The real story is se­ri­ous steps ahead in driv­ing dy­nam­ics and ef­fi­ciency.

More weight to the steer­ing and the dialling out of some push through cor­ners, to­gether with a bril­liant new elec­tronic all-wheel-drive sys­tem, gives the C4 and C4S a sharper edge.

A triple treat awaits those in­ter­ested in the up­graded cars. Di­rect in­jec­tion and the smart PDK trans­mis­sion in part­ner­ship with the elec­tronic AWD com­bine to give the C4 and C4S coupes and cabri­o­lets even greater pre­ci­sion.

At last a 911 driver can en­joy a truly mas­ter­ful trans­mis­sion that fi­nally does jus­tice to one of the sweet­est chas­sis in the busi­ness.

Pleas­ing lev­els of re­fine­ment in low-speed shuf­fling around car spa­ces and rolling away from stand­still have been di­alled into the new dou­ble­clutch PDK. It ac­tu­ally creeps for­ward from a stop with no throt­tle.

In the Car­rera 4 coupe sam­pled on this drive, the PDK unit had few faults, though at times the palms of our hands ac­ci­den­tally pushed the but­ton on the wheel to up­shift — par­tic­u­larly if any rea­son­able amount of steer­ing lock was wound on.

With the op­tional SportChrono sys­tem ($2200) you get wildly ag­gres­sive shifts when you ap­ply the SportPlus but­ton. The change from third to sec­ond is par­tic­u­larly an­gry: a short, sharp blip sends the 3.6-litre boxer en­gine into a play­ful yelp.

It’s not un­til you can legally open the taps that you com­pre­hend what all the fuss is about when driv­ing a 911.

A com­pre­hen­sive drive at a for­mer Rus­sian air­field was an en­vi­ron­ment made to or­der.

The ex­er­cises that the C4 and C4S 911s were put through ranged from slalom skid­pan runs to long and short han­dling tracks us­ing ideal lines at max­i­mum throt­tle and a top-speed blast down a run­way.

On the slalom the C4 was driven with the sta­bil­ity sys­tems func­tion­ing and turned off, and the be­hav­iour was worlds apart.

The new elec­tronic all-wheel-drive set-up and the lock­able lim­ited-slip rear dif­fer­en­tial give the C4 tremen­dous con­fi­dence when pushed to the edge.

This 911, with its rear-end spread a fur­ther 44mm wider than the out­go­ing model, is so adapt­able and bal­anced that the driver can en­tice it to be­have any way they de­sire through a cor­ner.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion times with the ar­rival of PDK have leaped ahead: 0-100km/h achieved in the C4 in 4.8sec, 0.8sec quicker than the Tip­tronic S trans­mis­sion, and 4.5sec in the C4S, a sim­i­lar gain over the pre­vi­ous model. When the op­tional launch con­trol is ap­plied that cuts the time fur­ther to 4.3sec.

The op­tional ce­ramic com­pos­ite brakes (about $20,000) are mon­strous in per­for­mance. Af­ter fly­ing down a V-max run and clock­ing close to 260km/h, you can pun­ish the brake pedal and the car will pull up with no the­atrics.

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