WHEREFORE ART THOU, CAR­RERA 4?

COULD NAR­ROW BODY AND ALL-WHEEL DRIVE BE THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?

911 Porsche World - - 996 C2 V 996 C4s -

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

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