2006 Porsche 911 Carrera C4S

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Sir Mix-a-Lot, the rapper who famously praised big butts, must have been reading Porsche's mind. The new 911 Carrera 4 with all-wheel drive sports an extra 1.7 inches of rump. It's a fashion statement, an engineering solution, and an anticipation of customer enthusiasm for the wide-body look wrapped into two curvaceous Carreras. The fat rear fenders are standard on the C4, whether you opt for the 325-hp edition or the 355-hp S we had the joy of flinging down Monte Carlo Rally roads in the French Alps.

The meat accompanying these potatoes includes at least 5 percent but not more than 40 percent of the available torque sent to the front wheels via a viscous coupling, major structural changes, revised brakes, a 1.3-inch-greater rear track, and fatter rubber. The C4S's rear tires grow from 295/30YR-19s to 305/30YR-19s, and curb weight is greater by 122 pounds. Dual-mode dampers with new suspension calibrations are standard on the C4S. Adding the 4 insignia to the deck lid costs $7970 in a Carrera S and $7770 in the regular 911.

The engineering changes yield what feels like a whole new 911. The C2's bobble-head front-end motion is gone; the handling dynamics reek of confidence. The steering is more communicative, with the front axle carrying an additional 75 pounds. Yank the wheel, and the nose dives aggressively for the apex while the tail hangs tight. Hammer the gas early to exit, and the front tires haul you forward instead of wide of the desired arc. No matter how you play the right pedal, the C4S drives where it's pointed.

But the extra traction and poise don't improve straight-line acceleration or top speed. That will change next year, when Porsche boosts the 911's wide booty with a turbo.

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