As autumn follows summer and traffic crashes follow starlets, so too must come the inevitable variations of a new Porsche 911, which wil soon grow to include the all-wheel-drive Porsche 911 Carrera 4, in coupe, convertible and uprated S flavors, all lighter, faster and likely more expensive than their predecessors. Progress always carries a price tag.
Adding four-wheel power to the regular 911 -- just named Motor Trend's "Best Driver's Car" and rightly acclaimed as a world-beating sports car -- may seem like overcomplicating to add heaviness, but the new edition of the 911 Carrera 4 is up to 143 lbs. lighter than previous models, thanks to Porsche's battle of the bulge. The regular versions get 350 hp engines and can crack 62 mph in 4.5 seconds (4.7 seconds for those topless versions); the S models add an extra 50 hp and shave 0.2 seconds off the run to 62 mph.
Yes, this is the only passenger car in the world with a seven-speed manual transmission, a floorboard shrine to the century where people picked their own gears. Yet it's also the first Porsche 911 where the presence of a stick shift raises the question of how seriously the car will be driven; the PDK dual-clutch automatic outperforms it in every aspect, from fuel economy to track speed. With a light foot, the all-wheel-drive models can broach 30 mpg. For the first time, the 911 Carrera S will also tell you when its powering the front wheels,
Set to debut in the metal at the Paris Motor Show next month, the new 911s will likely account for a third of total model sales, and set the stage for the parade of models to come: a turbo 911 Carrera S, a track-flavored GTS variety, and perhaps even a hybrid. U.S. prices haven't been announced yet, but if you don't have at least $100,000 to spend on a new car, the Porsche dealer will gladly show you the Boxster -- or a selection of branded baseball caps.