Porsche and Ferrari are the German and Italian sides of the same coin, respectively. Each one represents a unique interpretation of the sports car concept. Both were founded by a dominant patriarch, both designs are over 50 years old, both honed their craft in racing, and both have technical and stylistic integrity. Whether they are on the Le Mans track or on the city streets, these two brands are constantly brought together to be compared and contrasted. Even motorists who stick with sports cars associate these two names with performance and style.
Take for example the methodical Porsche 911 Carrera 4S and the passionate Ferrari F430. Both cars wow drivers with their performance while managing to maintain fairly good practicality, but neither pretend to be anything other than a sports car.
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There are certain characteristics that every modern sports car should have. It should start easy. It must maneuver around the city competently and courteously. It should be able, when requested, to explode along a country road. It should, in both appearance and performance, echo its roots on the race track while at the same time being perfectly safe on any road.
Since both cars meet and exceed these expectations with aplomb, and all the various intangible qualities are largely dictated by personal taste, perhaps the easiest way to compare the two cars is to gauge facts and figures.
One of the numbers that immediately impresses is the Ferrari’s very fast 0-100km/h acceleration of 4 seconds. The new generation 4.3-liter V8 produces 368 kilowatts of power, pinning passengers to their seats. While Porsche’s acceleration also offers the thrill of driving in an amusement park that super cars should give, it’s 0.8 seconds slower at the 100 km/k mark.
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Of course that kind of acceleration performance doesn’t really matter unless the cars also excel in braking, which they both do. Each car is equipped with optional ceramic disc brakes, enabling impressive stopping.
In the engine department, Porsche excels. With its smoother bike, Porsche scored points for economy, producing 18.3 liters per 100km while Ferrari came in second with just 11.8 liters per 100km. Both cars deliver power through an impressive 6-speed gearbox and stay on the road with top-level handling performance.
Although space is a bit limited, the F430 and Carrera 4S offer great interior comfort. Occupants will not feel cramped or claustrophobic. Even though the Ferrari features an impressive mix of suede, carbon fiber and aluminum, the Italians couldn’t answer the precision and finish achieved by the Germans.
The key elements for any super car are speed and silence. The style and position of the car attracts buyers more than the raw numbers. True to its Porsche roots, the Carrera 4S, despite its new proportions, is visually recognizable as a member of the 911 family. While it certainly looks great, somehow its styling doesn’t create the shocking reaction it once did. While traditionalists may insist that Porsche pays homage to its roots, the truth is that the Ferrari F430 is eye-catching and distracting.
Regardless of whether the Ferrari F430 stops you dead on your tracks with its looks, the super car title should go to the Porsche Carrera 4S, which is the more complete package.