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Porsche Carrera 4: Adventure Tour

Phil Farrelly - 18/August/2009

Porsche Carrera 4
Porsche Carrera 4

Porsche Carrera 4
"$200,000 is a major consideration"

Porsche Carrera 4
6-cylinder boxer 3.8litre, 254kW

Porsche Carrera 4
Cabriolet and Coupé

Porsche Carrera 4
 0-100km/h in 4.7 sec

France and Germany  I have just spent 5 days in heaven, car heaven that is.  Combine a fully prepared Carrera 4 with 1500kms on the clock and some of the best roads in Germany and France, throw in a few autobahn sections with no speed limit, need I say more. This is actually two reviews in one, one for the car and one for Porsche adventure tours, mix the two and car nirvana is within everyone’s reach, as long as you are willing to part with a few dollars but more about that later.

Let’s start early one Thursday morning at the Porsche factory in Ludswigburg near Stuttgart the home of Porsche. A shiny new Porsche Carrera 4 sits waiting carefully prepared for 5 days of luxury touring through the Burgundy and Alsace regions bordering France and Germany. As with all car reports we need the vital statistics at this point. Two seater sports coupe with 6 cylinders pumping out 254KW pulling a weight of only 1500kg with a top speed of 285KPH, totally irrelevant in Australia but enticingly achievable on the autobahns of Europe. The model provided sported the PDK transmission and what a dream that is – it provides a 0-100KPH in 4.6 seconds, a full 0.4 seconds quicker than the manual, something to do with having 7 gears to choose from and a bank of computers to make sure you are in the right gear both up and down the range for any particular set of circumstances. This is push button driving of the ultimate kind, push the Sport+ button and you are there simply to steer into some of the most exciting corners you will ever experience and what an experience. If you need to know more you will find the details on Porsche's web site.

By now you may have guessed that you are unlikely to read anything particularly critical in this report and if you want such a thing stop reading now, this car is about as perfect as you can get. However there are one or two considerations, not criticisms mind you. One, you need the money to put down on the line to own one and at close to $200,000 that is a major consideration. Two,you need the lifestyle that suits such a car, but given the first requirement that probably goes without saying.

What makes this car perfect, simply its usability. This is a car you can jump into for a 5 minute ride to the supermarket to pick up the milk, or blast from Melbourne to Sydney and enjoy every minute of the 11 hour journey (probably shorter if you are willing to… forget I said that…). The PDK transmission is uncanny in its ability to select the correct gear and there is no surprise that it actually “learns” and adapts to your driving style, not that you ever notice any of this going on, it just happens.   That of course is the Porsche mojo – efficient unstoppable performance, you just get the feeling that this is car is virtually bullet proof no matter what you throw at it.

Cabin ergonomics are about as perfect as they can get and Porsche seem to get that people can be taller than 6 foot so everyone should be able to find a good sitting position to launch from. The seats hug both the driver and the passenger and you need that when rolling into the tight apex turns at a touch over  100kph.  This is matched up to a suspension that seems to soak up every bump but still manages to hang on to bend like a gecko running up a wall.

This is a car with a dual personality, it will happily and anonymously saunter around the suburbs or rev up to become the ultimate sports car which has heads turning at every set of traffic lights, it is up to you and how you wish to use the accelerator. It wouldn’t be Porsche without a balance of performance and safety.  Braking is taken care of by 4-piston monobloc fixed alloy calipers and ventilated discs at each corner with disks that take up all of the 18” of space available connected through to the obligatory ABS and stability control systems.

In the unlikely event that things do go wrong there are six airbags to catch you and your passenger but this is a car that is designed to look after you in a very dynamic way.  You would have to do something extremely stupid to get it out of shape however there is always the out of control truck and you never know when one of those might appear around a blind corner.

Back to heaven now. If the asking price of $200,000 is out of your reach there is another option and this can be found at the Porsche Adventure Tours website. For a fraction of the price of owning one you can have the ultimate touring experience.  All tours come with a Porsche trained guide who not only knows the tour route and sights but also knows a thing or two about getting the most out of driving the Porsche you get to drive.  Generally there will be 8-10 other people on the tour who will hale from all parts of the globe and share a love of driving, not to  mention, the fine wines and meals that are usually part of the tour experience.

If you take up the European tours on offer you will have the added advantage of being able to use all the available power on tap with 200+kph sections of the autobahn built into the tour itinerary.  The standard freeways also generally have 130kph limits so you tend to get from point to point in quick times.  However it should be noted that these tours are not ideal for sightseeing as such, the sights tend to go by a little fast, but the daily destinations and 5 star hotels make up for everything.

Just to state the interests of the author, I was provided with the Porsche Carrera 4 and the tour free of charge, but I would have happily paid every cent of the normal cost and enjoyed every cent.  If you can afford it and it suits your lifestyle (read no kids) buy the Porsche Carrera 4 or one of its able cousins it won’t disappoint. If you are short a few pennies then the tour is a good way to get into the hot seat without breaking the bank. An annual 5 day Porsche break may be all you need to satisfy the need for speed.

Model Details - http://www.porsche.com/australia/models/911/

Porsche Adventure Tours - http://www.porsche.com/australia/_newzealand_/motorsportandevents/travelclub/porscheadventuretours/

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