TrackWorthy - Porsche 911 Carrera 4S - Canyon Driving-2

Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 at Home on SoCal’s Canyon Roads

by TrackWorthy,

TrackWorthy - Porsche 911 Carrera 4S - Canyon Driving-2
You wouldn’t test a new pair of hiking boots by taking a leisurely stroll down your street. You wouldn’t test a new, high-powered computer by writing a sonnet in your word processor. And you wouldn’t try out your new set of power tools by unscrewing a light switch cover.

No. To truly appreciate the benefits of masterful engineering, you’d push tools closer to the limits of their capabilities. You’d take an epic hike in your new boots. You’d hookup a VR headset to your new computer and play the most graphically demanding game available. I’m not much of a power tool user, but, I’m pretty sure you’d want to use your new kit for something slightly more exotic than unscrewing a light switch cover.

As you may have read in an earlier post, or seen in an earlier video, soon after we picked up our Porsche 911 991.2, we drove it across North America, from Toronto to Los Angeles. The drive was fantastic, but what we thought would be analogous to an epic hike in new hiking boots turned out to be more akin to a stroll down a very long sidewalk.

The silver lining? It was a great warm up that landed us in California, one of the hiking capitals of the world (in more ways than one). Twisting, undulating, remote canyon roads are the true proving grounds for a Porsche 911, not bustling, flat, straight freeways. While in L.A., we get to call these paved rollercoasters “our backyard,” and there are few better spots to enjoy a 911 properly.

Check it out:


The Route

The canyon roads between the 101 Freeway at Thousand Oaks and the Pacific Ocean are some of our favorites to drive. Sharp, banking turns reveal landscapes of mountains and ocean. Steep, winding, skill-testing ascents transition into satisfying straightaways through lofty meadows. The metal corrugated tunnels that bore through California’s rocky carapace enhance the sonorous soundtrack of the 911’s flat-six and sports-exhaust system.
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Driving Impressions:

Note: The following reflections are specific to the canyon driving experience in this post. For additional thoughts on the car, including its build, specifications, power, profile, equipment and aesthetic, please check out our post, Toronto to L.A. in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 991.2.

Notable Positives

Grip, Balance and Precision Handling. Approaching a hairpin turn at speed is exhilarating (terrifying) in even the least dangerous of settings. Imagine the adrenalin produced when nothing exists beyond the turn’s outer edge other than hundreds of feet of air stretching to a rocky, jagged floor. Such experiences are commonplace on these canyon roads. Seeing such corners rapidly approach awakens a voice inside that yells with growing urgency, “brake hard now or you’ll surely perish violently!”

It takes every ounce of willpower to listen to another, calmer voice assuring, “fear not and drive on, brave traveler, for this is a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (“PDCC”).” This second voice soothes, and panic subsides. Rotating the solid steering wheel causes lateral G-force to increase quickly, but the car’s grip becomes no less certain. Turn after turn, I come out the other side, foot planted on the gas, smile wide across my face, more alive than ever.

Combining PDCC with the 4S’s all-wheel drive and low center of gravity makes a car that launches quickly to high speeds, stays flat around corners, and nearly never spins out. It is rock solid and always ends up where you expect. As a result, it instills tremendous confidence in the driver so that spirited canyon drives are exciting, but never scary.

Toronto to L.A. in a Porsche 991.2 911 C4S - Actual Route
Brakes.  There are certain areas on these roads where hard braking is especially necessary. The occasional straightaways provide opportunity to press the Sports Response button on the steering wheel (part of the optional Sport Chrono Package), and accelerate at full power, proudly echoing the Porsche 911’s anthem off the surrounding mountainsides. Eventually, these straights end, usually abruptly, thanks to more hairpin turns.  The brakes on our car are not the optional carbon ceramics, but, to say that they work very, very, VERY well is an understatement.

Carrera S models feature six-piston aluminium monobloc fixed brake calipers on 350 mm diameter, cross-drilled discs in front, and four-piston versions on 330 mm cross-drilled discs at the rear. In dry conditions, they are capable of slowing the 911 from 100 km/h to 0 km/h in about 42 meters. The car’s braking performance and reliability mean that I can continue to accelerate along straights for far longer than I would normally feel comfortable, while still having enough road to slow to an appropriate speed to enter the awaiting corner.

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  • TrackWorthy - Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 - Canyon Roads - 08
Driving Modes. We like the convenient fingertip access to driving modes afforded by the optional Sport Chrono Package, and each driving mode draws forth from the car a noticeably distinct personality.

Normal mode (“O” on the wheel-mounted drive-mode selector dial) is best for most driving scenarios. It offers the smoothest ride, the smoothest gear changes, and, despite being the least sporty setting, it still delivers an abundance of power in short order.

“I” is an individually programmed setting, which we’ve programmed to behave exactly like O, except without the annoying auto-start disabled and with the sports exhaust enabled.

“S” is for Sport – quicker throttle response, quicker, more aggressive gear shifting, tighter suspension, tighter steering. Although we rarely use S, it’s sure fun to engage on empty, winding roads, such as those we visited for this post.

“S+” is an even more extreme version of S – it’s purely for the racetrack, or if you want to use the car’s Launch function.


Negatives

Stability Reduces Fun in Normal Conditions. The stability and precision that Porsche delivers in its all-wheel drive 4S package does come at the cost of some fun, at least under normal driving scenarios. A few years ago, one of our daily drivers was a 2008 BMW M3. That car had an M-Drive Sport Plus Mode, which, among other things, reduced traction control and made the car feel a bit wilder without killing you. It was awesome. Granted, the M3 was a rear-wheel, front-engine, tail-happy car, hardly comparable to a rear-engine, all-wheel drive 911. But the concept of introducing a traction control setting between boring and death is one that we’d welcome on a 911. It’s nearly impossible to get the rear-end of the C4S to step out under any kind of normal driving conditions. In order to get close to the edge of what this car can handle, you have to be doing some pretty dangerous (stupid) stuff. A mode that makes you feel like you’re at the edge in more benign circumstances, even if you’re far from the actual edge, could be interesting.

Squeaking Chassis. We’ve had the car for about eight months now, and something in the chassis seems to squeak when driving over uneven terrain. Not a major issue, just a bit strange.

Errant Headlight Warning. Throughout our canyon drive, we stopped to photograph the car. To elevate the images, we turned on the headlights. About an hour in, a notification started to appear, alerting us to check the front left headlight. Nothing seemed wrong with it. After some time, the warning disappeared, and we’ve not seen it since. TrackWorthy - Porsche 911 C4S 991.2 - Canyon Roads - 04

Design Appeals to Rats. Yes, you read that properly. Not long after our arrival in L.A., the A/C stopped working. Technicians at the local dealership identified the problem as one common to 911 owners: rodents had nested around the engine compartment and chewed through a bunch of the wires. We’re staying in a lovely area, although parking is outside, as is common throughout southern California. Apparently, this car’s design, more than others, invites this gross, expensive and inconvenient phenomenon.

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Conclusion

As reliable and comfortable as the 991.2 C4S is for a cross country drive, its power and handling prowess truly shine on hardcore driving roads. Ultimate precision and stability may suppress some emotion, but you won’t easily find a car that instills as much confidence in the driver, and that is still beyond fun to drive.

Whatever you’re driving, we urge you to take it to a proper proving ground. After every canyon drive, we look at the 911 (and think of the Stuttgart engineering team) with renewed awe.


Future Plans

Many more videos with this 991.2 out in California are in the works:

Long Range Fuel Economy Test and Comparison. We’ll test the car’s fuel economy in Normal driving mode and compare it to Sport. To do so, we’ll drive up the famed Pacific Coast Highway as far as we can on one tank of gas in Normal mode, then refill and drive back in Sport.

Car Meetups. We’ll stop at a Coffee and Cars event to see what TrackWorthy beasts lurk around Malibu these days.

Back to T.O. We’ll re-traverse the continent back to Toronto, this time taking Google’s recommended northern route, which should be more scenic and offer more dramatic topographic transitions. More importantly, it should also promise more open road, enabling us to shoot a video that is much more driving focused.

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If you have any additional requests or recommendations, please contact us at info@trackworthy.com. We’d love to hear your creative ideas and we’ll do our best to incorporate them.


Photographs and Videos © Copyright TrackWorthy Group Ltd. 2018

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