Its Seal Grey Metallic paint is an appropriate color for a sports car whose shape has been compared to a breaching killer whale. Its black full leather interior is equally apropos to the vehicle's luxury status. And even though its color scheme enhances the car's desirability, it could have come in chartreuse and mauve and we wouldn't have cared (well, maybe a little bit). european car's long-term 2003 Porsche Carrera 4S is the kind of car one yearns to drive no matter which hues it comes in.

One reason behind that yearning is the C4S's engine. Powered by Porsche's 3.6-liter flat six, the C4S can outrun most other cars on the road. The engine's 320 bhp is available at 6800 rpm and its 273 lb-ft of torque peaks at 4250 rpm. The VarioCam Plus valve timing and lift system enables 84% of peak torque to be available from 2500 to 7000 rpm, giving the C4S serious pushing (as opposed to pulling in a front-engined car) power. The 3,240-lb coupe's reported 0-to-62-mph time can turn nearly every stoplight encounter into a quick-start challenge, even if the only person you're competing against is yourself. Rowing through the six gears of the manual transmission becomes an exercise in quickness and shift-point maximization. You can't help but have fun getting off the line.

A second point of desire is the Carrera 4S's handling characteristics. The all-wheel-drive system is the same as that on the 911 Turbo. Weighing just 120 lb, the system is based on a viscous multi-plate clutch located directly behind the front differential, sending 5- to 40% of available torque forward based on applied power and traction. The four-wheel independent suspension system has a MacPherson-strut design in front and a multi-link setup in the rear-both using aluminum components for reduced unsprung weight, stabilizer bars for flat cornering and gas-charged shock absorbers for minimized pitch and yaw. The result of these two systems is a chassis that is virtually impossible to break free. You'd have to be doing something phenomenally stupid, such as trying to defy the laws of physics, in order to cause the C4S to lose traction

If you do manage to get the coupe loose, its four-wheel vented and cross-drilled disc brakes with one-piece four-piston calipers (it's the same setup as on the 911 Turbo) will tighten things up in a hurry. The front and rear discs are 13 in. in diameter, that's 0.5- and 1.2-in. larger, respectively, than on the standard 911. As with the 911 Turbo, the Porsche Stability Management system (PSM) is standard equipment. PSM is a dynamic handling control system that senses and then reduces instability by way of braking individual wheels and, if required, reducing engine power.

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