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Timeless beauty

Justin Harper
Justin Harper • 5 min read
Timeless beauty
The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S gets better with age, but stays true to its DNA
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The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S gets better with age, but stays true to its DNA

SINGAPORE (Nov 25): How do you change a car that has been around for more than 50 years? The short answer is you do not. That is probably why the Porsche 911 has become so popular over the years. Despite the temptations to give it a major facelift, Porsche has stuck with the bulk of the model’s features.

There have been a few nips and tucks over five decades or so, but the DNA of the iconic sports car remains the same. Porsche’s tagline is ­“timeless machine” — a phrase you cannot really argue with.

There may be a number of different versions of the 911 currently available (such as the Cayman, Carrera, Boxster and Targa), but the essence of the Porsche 911 remains intact. In fact, it gives me goosebumps each time a new version or edition is launched. So, let’s turn our attention to the latest member of the family — the new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Its predecessor was already a beautiful car, so I was intrigued to see what the Germans had done to this new model to improve it.

You might actually struggle to spot the changes, unless you park the old and new models side by side. There are more changes to the back of the new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S than to the front. The rear has slimmer tail lights and a light bar that has been extended to run across the entire back of the car. The licence plate is also lower than before. That is not an awful lot of changes for a new model, but therein lies the secret of the 911’s success — it really does not need much.

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
$584,088 without COE
Engine: 2,981cc, 24-valve, flat-six, turbocharged
Power/torque: 450hp/530Nm
Consumption: 9.6L/100km
0 to 100kph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 306kph

The cabin has also been refreshed, but again, you could easily miss the “improvements”. There is a familiarity about sitting in a 911 that comes from not having too many changes, so I view this as a positive thing. Less is more, right? Among the refreshed features is a new digital instrument panel that looks really modern, if slightly intimidating. Instead of having five analogue dials, there are now screens on either side of the tachometer. These display a variety of measurements, including a stopwatch, tyre pressure and navigation, and you can easily toggle between the different screens.

One of the things you are sure to like about this car is how practical it is. There are now bottle holders in the door panels and hooks behind the front seats to hang your jacket. These sound trivial but they make a big difference. There are also some lovely aesthetic touches, such as the flush door handles. You cannot actually see the handles sticking out anymore, but they pop out via finger sensors, which is very smart and hi-tech.

The large 10.9in infotainment screen takes centre stage in the cockpit and houses many of the functions that used to be buttons on the centre console. For example, the stop-start function is now controlled via the infotainment screen, along with the sports exhaust. While it is not as practical as having its own dedicated button, it does tidy things up. The gear shifter is also different — it has been supersized down. Again, this takes a little getting used to.

But the drive is unmistakably a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Just looking at the stats will get you excited even before you start the engine. Behind you sits a turbocharged, three-litre, flat-six power plant that delivers 450hp and 530Nm of torque. Should you want to (and you will), that will get you from 0 to 100kph in a blistering 3.6 seconds. It is also an all-wheel drive, so that speed comes with just as much control on the tarmac. There are also 21in rear tyres (the front ones are slightly smaller) adding to the stability at the back.

All-wheel steering is an optional extra (at just over $9,000), but worth it, as it makes parking and doing U-turns a breeze, and will probably help you avoid scraping the tyres on the kerb.

The digital instrument panel features five analogue dials that display a variety of measurements, including a stopwatch, tyre pressure and navigation

You sit slightly lower in the new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, but it feels just as comfy and snug as all the previous 911s I have test-driven. The adjustable seats and steering wheel allow you to get that elusive “just right” driving position that you will never want to change.

Another notable addition to this new version is the wet mode, which Porsche says is a world first. Once the car senses wet road conditions, it automatically dials down everything (whatever driving mode you are currently in), giving you maximum driving stability. This just adds to the practicality of this iconic sports car.

Justin Harper is a freelance journalist with a ­passion for all things fast

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