Porsche 911 Convertible review
The open-top Porsche 911 Cabriolet adds roofless thrills to the traditional rear-engined formula
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.
The 911 Cabriolet is just as entertaining to drive as the coupe, and you get to revel in the flat-six soundtrack when the roof is down. 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. In reality, the standard car 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 the S.
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 Carrera 4S cabriolet costs clost to £100,000. If you want the Porsche open-air experience for less cash, the Boxter costs around £40,000 less . Still te 911 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.