The new 4S is the all-wheel-drive, 400-horsepower version of Porsche's iconic 911 Carrera sports car. As with the rest of the recently redesigned, 991-series 911 lineup, it packs an impressive amount of luxury and technology while remaining highly engaging and enjoyable on a winding back road.
The 4S is essentially identical to the standard S model (which sits above the base Carrera in the 911 hierarchy) except for a few key details. First and foremost, it features the latest version of Porsche's all-wheel-drive system to provide better foul-weather capability as well as extra-quick acceleration.
While it uses the same 400-horsepower, 325 lb-ft of torque 3.6-liter flat-six as the S, the 4S is capable of sprinting to from zero-to-60 mph a few tenths faster thanks to the extra AWD traction - equipped with the standard (and industry-first) seven-speed manual, the deed takes 4.3 seconds, while Porsche's PDK dual-clutch gearbox lowers that time to as little as 3.9 seconds.
Other differences include extra-wide rear fenders that house extra-wide rear tires and a red light bar that spans the gap between the rear taillights.
In most other respects, the 4S is the same as the rest of the new, 991-series 911 family. It's longer, lower and around 150 pounds lighter than the last-gen model, although the styling still remains faithful to the original 911 that debuted way back in 1963. A more efficient engine and the seven-speed gearboxes equate to improved fuel economy - the EPA rates the manual transmission model at 18/26 city/highway mpg, while the dual-clutch version returns 19/26 mpg.
Another change is a new electromechanical steering system, which is highly accurate but filters out a bit more road feedback than the last setup did.
Inside, the cabin sports a sloping center console along with an overall look inspired by the Panamera sedan. The cockpit is now more driver-focused, featuring a center console that rises up towards the front with the gear shifter or selector closer to the steering wheel. Not all interior details are new, however, as Porsche stuck with a traditional five round gauge cluster arrangement, with one gauge being a high-resolution multifunction screen.
As with other Porsches, the 911 Carrera 4S can be had with a nearly infinite variety of optional features and packages - for a price. Inside, four different types of seats can be had, while buyers can also spec aluminum, wood, carbon fiber or alcantara trim. Audiophiles can choose between Bose or Burmester sound systems, the latter with 821 watts of crisp-sounding output.
Highlights from the performance options include Ceramic Composite Brakes that provide reduced stopping distances with little fade, a Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) electronically controlled damper system and the Sport Chrono Package, which includes features like analog and digital stopwatches in addition to Dynamic Engine Mounts that improve cornering stability.
Also available is the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PD CC) active roll stabilization system, which reduces lateral inclination when cornering by allowing the tires to always be in the optimal position relative to the road surface, allowing the car to sustain higher lateral forces.
All 911 Carrera 4S models come standard with dual front, front side, front knee and head curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and an emergency braking preparation system.
What makes this Porsche different from the normal 911 Carrera S is all-wheel-drive. Rivals that also send power to all four wheels include the Audi R8 and BMW 6-Series, while the Jaguar XKR and Chevrolet Corvette Z06 are rear-wheel-drive machines that also merit consideration.