The new Type 991 Porsche 911 Carrera 4, like all Carrera 4 models before it, can trace its lineage back to the formidable Porsche 959, a no-holes-barred supercar that debuted such things as performance-oriented all-wheel drive, sequential turbocharging and a Kevlar and aluminum body that took advantage of advanced aerodynamics.

Porsche initially developed the car for Group B Rally competition, which was seen as an ideal testbed for proving technology before implementing it in production vehicles. Eventually, the 959 became a street car, but not before chalking up a 1-2 finish at the 1986 running of the grueling Pais-Dakar Rally.

The 959 also led to the development of the 961, which was focused on sports car racing. Only a single car 961 was ever built, and the car ran just three races, managing a class win at Le Mans (and a seventh overall finish) in 1986.

In 1989, Porsche decided to bring its AWD technology to a more mainstream platform, and the Carrera 4 was born. In the generations since, the Carrera 4 has continually evolved to become a true Jack-of-all-trades sports car, delivering both exhilarating performance and all-weather traction.

One common element of all Carrera 4 models is the red tail line, used to set the car apart from the rest of the 911 range. On Type 991 models, this red line is now illuminated to accentuate the car’s wide-body design.

If you’ve always wanted a 911, but can’t justify purchasing a two or three-season vehicle, the Carrera 4 is certainly worth a test drive. Look for the new models to begin hitting dealers in early 2013.