WHEREFORE ART THOU, CARRERA 4?
COULD NARROW BODY AND ALL-WHEEL DRIVE BE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?
Plain Carrera versus C4S is a classic confrontation. But there’s surely something missing. What about the narrow bodied C4? Given all three second-gen 996 Carrera variants pack the same 3.6litre 320hp powerplant, the Carrera 4 is the perfect experimental control, a device with which to distill dynamic distinctions. How much of the C4S’S dynamic difference is down to the wider body and so-called Turbo running gear? How much is simply due to all-wheel drive? But hang on. The Carrera 4 will also want to make a stand-alone case for itself. Could it be the C4 that’s actually best of both worlds? A clerical error on this author’s behalf means that absolutely definitive data will remain tantalisingly out of reach. But we have the next best thing in the shape of Ben Buchanan’s immaculate first-gen C4.
For the most part, this 3.4-litre C4 is much the same car as the later 3.6. As facelifts go, the second coming of the 996 was more incremental revision than major makeover. But it’s just different enough to make the comparison that little bit more complicated. With all that in mind, what can we learn from the C4? For starters, it’s definitely the real 911 deal. In fact, it’s clearly closer in overall character to the Carrera 2 than the C4S.
If anything, this C4 is busier and more challenging even than the C2. Very soon after you move away it’s clear there’s even more in terms of mass transfer and body movement, that’s for sure. And this car is fitted with the factory M030 chassis option. To be clear, the C4 doesn’t feel heavy or dull. It turns nicely into low speed corners, probably better than the C2 and perhaps because of the extra weight over the nose. But bung the C4’s nose inexpertly into a higher speed corner and at first it feels like it doesn’t want to turn. There’s a reluctance, only slight, but it’s there. Then you get it set up properly through a similar corner and it’s all much more keyed in.
Where the C4 does share common ground with the C4S is steering. It’s a little more transparent, to be sure, and yet not quite as alive as the C2’s. That said, you certainly wouldn’t kick any of these cars out of bed for the way they steer. Without the slightest attempt at innuendo, they all have gorgeous racks. The C4, then, is nothing if not technical. A boring point and squirt machine it most certainly is not. It’s a 996 with its own distinct character