2000 Miles in a Porsche Carrera 4:
    A Subjective comparision between an MR2 and the Porsche

I've just returned from spending 5 days and 2000 miles in a new, 2000 model year, Millennium edition, Porsche Carrera~4.

Picture of Porsche

I flew to Tulsa, and drove it back to California with my brother-in-law (it's his new car), and while he'll probably kill me for this post, here is my subjective comparison between the Porsche Carrera 4 and my Toyota MR2 Turbo.

First, a brief description of the Porsche:

  • 300 hp
  • 242 ft-lbs at 4600 rpm
  • 7000 rpm red line
  • 6 speed manual
  • 225x40x18" front tires
  • 265x35x18" rear tires
  • viscous-coupling all wheel drive system
  • GPS nav. system,
  • radar detector,
  • leather everything
  • yadda, yadda, yadda

Expensive features: Advantage Porsche

  • Car had nice paint, changing colors from green to purple to black as the light fades into darkness.
  • Headlights are projector beams which are self levelling, and brighten and rise with high beams on.
  • Radio volume raises and lowers automatically with the ambient noise. Car is very quiet at 80 mph: we could easily carry on a conversation without having to raise our voices.
  • Very little wind turbulence or buffeting.
  • PS system talks you to your destination keyed in by drilling into a menu and selecting food, gas, etc.

Engine/Drivetrain: Advantage Porsche

Torque is abundant from 2500 rpm to over 5000 rpm. Car really goes once it hits 4000 rpm. The clutch effort is much greater, difficult to quickly shift very smoothly. While my MR2 is slightly faster once spooled up, the Porsche takes off running immediately. In a drag race, my MR2 would win, in an autocross event, the Porsche would win.

Suspension: Advantage MR2

The Carrera~4 was equipped with the standard suspension with 18" wheels. The "performance tuned" suspension was considered too hard by the buyer. The ride in the Carrera, with the standard suspension, is bone jarring on all but smooth roadbeds. We suffered on concrete highways with each expansion joint rattling our brains. It felt as though the Porsche's springs were not progressive, and had a much higher rate than those of the MR2. While this same "stiffness" caused us to wear on the freeways, it inspired confidence on the turns. The Porsche feels much more confident cornering at high speed. Personally, I'd give up some stiffness (and cornering), and go for a more progressive/softer spring.

Traction: Advantage Porsche

I launched the Carrera~4, dropping the clutch at 4000 rpms, while making a left hand turn. When the rear wheels reached the center of the roadway, they slipped. But because of the viscous coupling, torque was transferred to the front wheels and the car just leaped ahead, outperforming my MR2 by a wide margin. Ouch!

Looks: Advantage MR2

Subjective..... I won't even try to justify it :)

MR2 in Driveway

Sound: AdvantagePorsche

The Porsche boxer 6 sounds better than Issac Stern in Carnegie Hall, and is among the sweetest sounds in existence.

The bottom line: Advantage MR2

MR2 Turbo: ~$10,000 in tuned condition with 117k miles Carrera 4: $89,000 (if you can find one, as there is a 10-16 month waiting list)

My MR2 Turbo

You know what they say.... the last 10 percent of performance costs 90 percent of the dollars!

Bill C.
Currently Owner of
'90 SHO
'94 SHO
'91 MR2 Turbo
2.0 liter, I4, Intercooled Turbo Mid-engine, rear drive, 2700 lbs, 4 wheel disks with ABS 200 HP stock @ 8 psi boost 200 ft-lbs at 4200 rpm
Modifications: Manual boost controller, raising boost to 16 psi, and horsepower to ~ 250 Modified ECU to map fuel for higher boost pressures, advance timing, and lean fuel rate. 0-60 mph is < 6.0 seconds.

A final comment on the comparison.... While no single feature of the Porsche stands out as outstanding, relative to my MR2, it is the sum of all the little improvements that add up to a much better machine. The Porsche 911 is a race tuned performance car and is perfectly suited to driving very fast and aggressively, yet it maintains a level of creature comforts normally absent from performance cars.

© Bill Cochran, 2000