New Porsche 911 Cabriolet 2019 review
Can the new 992 Porsche 911 Cabriolet deliver open-topped thrills without the usual convertible compromises?
The 911 Cabriolet isn’t just a poser’s Porsche; the new 992 delivers an outstanding driving experience that’s brimming with feel, feedback and fun. The traditional downsides to a drop-top car are missing, too, as this new Cabrio is impressively rigid and refined. The 992-generation Cabriolet allows the 911 to morph into a seriously plush and luxurious grand tourer, while still being a fabulously involving car to drive.
It’s been a little over a month since we drove the brand new, eighth-generation ‘992’ series Porsche 911 Coupe. Regardless, the derivatives are already arriving. First up is the Cabriolet – a version of the 911 that’s been a mainstay of the range since 1982.
Firstly, the numbers: the 911 Cabriolet is 70kg heavier than the Coupe and the fabric roof takes 12 seconds to fold up or down at speeds of up to 30mph. It costs £9,645 more than its sibling, and for now there are just two versions on offer – the rear-wheel drive Carrera S (£102,755) and the four-wheel drive Carrera 4S (£108,063) Cabriolet.
The 992 Coupe is already 50kg heavier than the previous 991, despite its new aluminium-intensive body. That gain comes mostly from a new PDK gearbox with an eighth ratio, a Gasoline Particulate Filter in the exhaust, and a larger set of alloy wheels. But the Cab’s extra 70kg is due almost entirely to the extra strengthening and rollover protection that’s needed for a convertible car.
To say the new Cabriolet is just a Coupe with the roof lopped off is ignoring how much of an evolution the 992 series is from its predecessor. Yes, it shares its platform with the 991, but the shell is completely new and comes in just one wide-hipped form – with a 45mm wider front track. And for the first time on a standard, non-RS 911 the front and rear wheels are different sizes: 20 and 21 inches respectively.
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The body is also noticeably larger, too, with a squarer front-end and squatter rear; the Cab exaggerating the 911’s extra dress size. With the roof tucked away beneath its cover, the Cabriolet’s bottom borders on buxom, and while you could say the LED rear light strip and plasticky pop-out door handles are tacky, the 992 is still clearly a 911 from all angles, despite its larger, wider form.
The engine is typically 911, too. It’s a 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six, and while some may point out that its basic dimensions are the same as the old 991.2, it’s had a thorough going over. There are larger turbos with cast intake manifolds, new piezo fuel injectors and different air intakes. All of this allows the 992 (in Carrera S form) to push out 444bhp and 550Nm of torque – 30bhp more than the 991 Carrera S and the same amount of power the previous 911 GTS could muster.
The interior is equally evolutionary, too. The flat, upright dash of previous 911s has been replaced by one that’s more modern in its look and feel. Horizontal surfaces replace vertical ones, and in the middle sits the Panamera’s excellent touchscreen, with a row of delicate buttons beneath it and a dainty gearlever that looks like a shaving razor.
The steering wheel is new, too, sitting in front of a lovely traditional analogue rev counter and between two angled TFT screens. It all feels familiar, though, thanks to an excellent driving position and outstanding build quality. The rear seats are only suitable for very occasional use, but even with the hood up, headroom isn’t as cramped as you’d expect.
Flick the Panamera-style starter button and the rear-mounted flat-six barks into life like it always has. We tried both the two-wheel drive Carrera S and the four-wheel drive Carrera 4S and apart from the S having slightly lighter steering, the two cars drive almost identically in normal conditions. All 911s come with adaptive dampers, but our test cars came with chassis upgrades including PDCC, PASM (a 10mm drop in ride height), active engine mounts and rear-axle steering. Equipped as such, we found the 911 to ride surprisingly well on rough roads.
Pick up the pace and it’s only when you’re on the limit do the differences between the S and 4S become clear. The latter shuffles power around to deliver the best traction, while the S is a little more game to kick its tail out. But, even when it does, it’s not threatening like 911s of old. Roof down and you’d expect the body to flex and wobble but there’s only the minutest of shudders; pop the roof up and it’s impressively hushed.
Switch the gearbox to manual mode and the new eight-speed transmission fires up and down the ratios impressively. The brake pedal is about an inch too high but it’s feelsome and the standard steel brakes deliver great stopping power. But it’s the steering that’s the real triumph; it’s deliciously accurate, weights up perfectly and offers good feel.
The engine needs to be worked hard to make the most of it – but it’s rewarding to do so. You’re left in no doubt of its turbocharged nature, with quite a sudden boost in the mid-range and wooshes as the needle climbs around the rev counter. Lift-off the throttle and the wooshes are replaced with chirps, but get past 6,000rpm and the engine takes on a harder-edged character.
Porsche claims 3.6 seconds to 60mph – 3.4s with the £1,646 Sport Chrono package fitted – which is ludicrously fast for a standard, four-wheel drive 911. Even faster GTS and Turbo Cabriolets will arrive later.
But what about the noise? Well, the sound is a little flat low down, but higher up the rev range the distinctive engine note is there. It’s a good idea to fork out the £1,844 required for the sports exhaust system, too, as this only improves things.