The new Porsche 911
Initially two models are available: the rear-wheel-drive Carrera 2S, which costs £102,755, and the four-wheel drive Carrera 4S, yours for £108,063.That’s about £9k or so more than equivalent coupes, though less expensive, less powerful entrylevel models are on the way. Traditionally, cabriolets have had a softer focus than their coupe cousins, partly because they were much wobblier and heavier – removing the roof reduces bodyshell stiffness and the bracing beneath the car that partly compensates increases weight.
Both models get a 3.0-litre, turbo-petrol engine producing 444bhp, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the ability to race from 0 to 60mph in just 3.4 seconds and exceed 190mph on derestricted German autobahns.
This is a sensationally rapid machine, feeling brutally quick off the mark, effortlessly flexible when you accelerate gently in higher gears at lower speeds, and eye-wideningly exciting when it roars round to maximum revs.
The eight-speed, semi-automatic gearbox is similarly multi-talented – leave it in auto mode for fuss-free cruising, or click at paddles behind the steering wheel for rapid gearshifts and the performance feels endless.
The 911 Cabriolet’s bodyshell is half as stiff as the coupe’s and the whole car does weigh 11 stone more, but you’d never guess at the wheel, nor could you ever accuse it of feeling soft after a frisky run up a hairpin-littered road – this latest 911 Cabriolet feels sporty and sorted, with quick, precise and beautifully weighted steering, nimble handling and huge grip from fat, 21-inch rear tyres squished into the ground by the 911’s famous rear-engined layout.
The four-wheel drive Carrera 4S takes the superglue factor to another level but it’s a little heavier again and its steering isn’t quite so sweet because the front wheels must both steer and put down some power. So we’d save the £5k difference and stick with a Carrera 2S; but both models are great to drive and it’s actually easy to forget you’re in a soft-top at all, unless you drop the roof to enjoy the experience all the more.
The inside of the car
Engine roaring, turbochargers whooshing, sky rushing overhead – you don’t want to be trapped at a party with a petrolhead who can’t see the appeal in that.
Our test cars were even fitted with lowered sports suspension, the first time Porsche has ever made such equipment available on a 911 Cabriolet.Thus equipped, the new 911 Cabriolet can feel borderline too firm at low speeds, so if you’re just planning relaxing drives and urban commutes, the sports suspension might not be the best choice.
But at speed that stiff-jointed restlessness eases to a cushy but impeccably controlled ride and the real pay-off comes when you indulge in that performance on a twisty road and indulge in the performance.
Almost equally important for sun-seeking 911 drivers is the time it takes the roof to open or close. The 911 Cabriolet does it at the press of a button in 12 seconds, a two-second gain on the previous model despite the roof and its mechanism being fundamentally the same.
The roof can also go through its motions while travelling at up to 32mph, so you can slow down rather than stop if the weather changes and while 32mph sounds a fairly middling speed, it feels quite mad to have the sky appear over your head at that speed.
The roof is quieter than before – both in the way it goes back and folds beneath the metal tonneau cover and because the cabin is said to be around 10 per cent quieter when the roof is closed – thanks to a fleece-like layer sandwiched between the outer and inner fabric, though a metal roof still does a better job of snuffing out noise, especially at cruising speeds.
It’s this extra noise with the roof up that’s the give-away you’re in a cabriolet, rather than the way this sports car drives. Roof down there’s the perfect mix of feeling that exhilarating exposure to the elements but never being battered by them.A wind deflector that pops up behind you helps calm the bluster. In some cabriolets you have to clip these deflectors in manually and then store them the rest of the time but the 911’s pops out at the push of a button.
Crucially, the 911 Cabriolet looks good too. Soft-tops of yesteryear could sometimes look like someone had strapped a fly-sheet between the windscreen and the boot but the 911’s fabric top looks crisp and taut. It also folds away neatly – tucking all that fabric above the engine does mean the rear end is slightly higher, a small increase that does add some visual bulk, particularly with the roof down.You might spot that the heated glass rear screen is also smaller than a coupe’s. It reduces visibility a little but a reversing camera comes as standard.
It’s a great sports car, this 911 Carrera S Cabriolet.The choice of the purist will always be the coupe but the convertible remains an exceptionally dynamic 911, literally opening up a whole new dimension of enjoyment which asks its owners to sacrifice very little of the 911’s famous usability in return – you still get the rear seats for emergency school runs and the front boot is no smaller as conventional boots in front-engined convertibles often are. The cabriolet is arguably the most versatile 911 of all.
It’s come a long way since 1982.
Porsche 911 Carrera from the back
Model: Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet
Price range: £102,755 to £108,063
Engine range: Petrol – 3.0-litre turbo
Power: 0 to 60mph in 3.4 seconds, 191mph top speed
Average fuel economy: 31.0mpg
CO2 emissions range: 207-208g/km
Rivals: Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-AMG GT