Porsche 911 Cabriolet review
The open-top Porsche 911 Cabriolet adds convertible thrills to the traditional rear-engined formula
The Porsche 911 Cabriolet adds open-air thrills to the entertaining performance of Porsche’s long-running sports car. It was developed at the same time as the latest 991-generation coupe, and is currently offered in Carrera, Carrera S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S guise.
With the canvas roof up, the 911 Cabriolet has the same distinctive profile as the coupe, while dropping the top allows you to savour the trademark flat-six engine note all the better. On the road, the 911 Cabriolet is almost as agile as the coupe.
It's also surprisingly cost effective to run, considering the performance, thanks to its standard stop-start technology, seven-speed manual transmission and strong residuals. Models equipped with the twin clutch PDK gearbox are even more efficient.
There’s no mistaking the 911 Cabriolet for anything else. Traditional cues such as the round headlights, bulbous wheelarches, upright windscreen and curved rear end are all carried over intact from the last 911, while the Cabrio’s roof has the same profile as the coupe’s when it’s in place. Inside, the same high-quality interior is used, while the closed roof does a good job of keeping out noise. Opening the top takes 13 seconds and can be done at speeds of up to 35mph.
Better still, all versions get a near powered wind deflector that glides out from behind the rear seats and the touch of a button. Four-wheel drive versions get wider rear arches and a wider track plus a neat LED strip that links the rear light clusters. Inside the cabin used the same high quality switchgear and classy materials as the Panamera saloon and the driving position and visibility are both excellent.
As with the Coupe, the different models get different styling treatments. The GTS gets slightly revised bumpers, gloss black 20-inch centre-locking alloys and smoked headlamps, while Turbo models are identified by their fixed rear wings, wider bodies and large side air intakes.
Cutting the roof of a car can trouble the handling: extra chassis bracing is required to counteract the loss in torsional riiditiy and this adds weight. But as convertibles go, the 911 Cabriolet is one of the best conversions ever.
There’s almost no body flex and the grip on offer means the slight increase in weight doesn’t really affect the handling. Still compare the Cabriolet with the Coupe back-to-back and you'll notice a slight dulling in driver feedback. On the flip side, with the roof down you get to revel in the flat-six soundtrack.
The new electric steering is scapel sharp and beautifully weighted, there's lots of grip from the chassis, and decades of development mean the rear-engined 911 is one of the most entertaining cars you can buy. Power comes from a 345bhp 3.4-litre flat-six in the Carrera, while the Carrera S has a 3.8-litre six with 395bhp.
The GTS has 424bhp and a revised suspension set-up, the Turbo gets’ all-wheel drive, the PDK automatic as standard and 513bhp. This rises to 552bhp in the Turbo S model which can do 0-62mph in a bonkers 3.2 seconds.
In reality, the entry-level Carrera has more than enough performance for most people’s needs, with a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds and 176mph top speed – the Carrera S is capable of 0-62mh in 4.3 seconds and 185mph. The four-wheel drive models feel even more secure on the road, partiularly in slippery conditions where the sophistcated transmission can automatically send power to the wheel with most grip.
Refinement with the roof up is superb and even when its folded buffeting is kept to a minimum by the neatly integrated electric wind diffuser. The Porsche also copes well with bumps, especially when fitted with the adaptive dampers that are optional on the Carrera and standard on all the other models.
The latest 911 has been on sale a while now and few major problems have been reported. Previous 911s haven’t always run like clockwork, though, so time will tell if any major problems arise but the latest generation seems to have placed a bigger focus on interior quality as well as mechanical resilience. Whatever happens, you can expect dealer servicing to be expensive, although the service you get will be exemplary.
The 911 comes with a variety of electronic ads to keep everything in check, and the usual raft of airbags and rollover protection all feature. There aren't many safety options to choose from, but you can add adpative cruise control and bi-xenon headlamps with a cornering function.
The 911 Cabriolet is surprisingly practical for a sports car, and is certainly a better prospect than the Audi R8 Spyder. The deep 135-litre boot in the nose is the same as the coupe’s, while the tiny rear seats are ideal for small children, baby seats or extra luggage space.
It's worth noting, however, that four-wheel versions have a smaller 125-litre load bay. Both the driver and passenger get plenty of room, while the cabin is littered with useful cubbies and cupholders. In terms of its external dimensions, the 911 has always been one of the smaller supercars, and the current version is no different, which means it’s easy to place on the road, as well as park and visibility is good with the roof up or down.
Top-end sports cars aren’t designed to offer ultra-low running costs, but the 911 Cabriolet is different. It’s lighter than the last version, and the redesigned engines are more efficient, too. All cars come with a seven-speed manual as standard, but the PDK semi-auto gearbox boosts efficiency even further. The standard Carrera Cabriolet PDK – which also includes stop-start and neat coasting function – can return 33mpg and 198g/km.
Of course, a high initial purchase price is the biggest stumbling block to Porsche ownership, and the 911 Cabrio starts from just under £80,000, while the flagship Turbo S cabriolet costs more than £150,000. If you want the Porsche open-air experience for less cash, the Boxter costs around £40,000 less.
Still, the 911 is cheaper than rivals like the Audi R8 Spyder and Jaguar XK-R S convertible, plus it benefits from rock solid residuals - our experts predict it'll hold onto at least 50 percent of its value after three years.