Roof closed, rapid run up a hairpin-littered mountain road and already I’ve forgotten I’m driving the new 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. You know, the ‘soft’ one that purists swerve for a coupe? Last night, even productline director Andreas Pröbstle admitted the cabriolet is less than half as stiff as the coupe (15,000Nm plays 40,000Nm) and weighs 70kg more, but right now it feels pretty coupe-like to me: solid and sorted, it steers with a pacey accuracy, and totally absorbs you in its adjustable dynamics. Porsche has even seen fit to implement rear-wheel steering and 10mm lower sports suspension to our test car, the latter a first for a Cabriolet (bit niggly around town, eases with speed).
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Then I remember the roof, slow to 50km/h, and press a button so that the taut fabric-top motors back down over my head. The 331kW flat six roaring, turbos whooshing like rocket launchers, sky rushing overhead – you don’t want to be stuck at a party with a petrolhead who can’t see the appeal in that. Or thinks a four-cylinder Boxster would do the job just as well.
Best hit them with the 3.9sec 0-100km/h and 306km/h bragging rights first, before revealing this new roof opens or closes in just 12 seconds – a two-second improvement on the previous model. Actually, ‘new roof’ is pushing it. The Z-fold roof mechanism and the fabric continues from the last 911, but the electro-hydraulic mechanism gets a higher-performance pump. That’s the key to the extra speed, and it also hushes the mechanism’s operation – and it really is a pleasingly quiet roof.
Quieter with the roof in place too (by around 10 percent, estimates Pröbstle) thanks to a new fleecy layer sandwiched between outer and inner layers. Truth be told, it’s interior noise that most obviously flags that you’re in a cabriolet, because there’s definitely more bluster than a coupe interior. It’s no deal-breaker, though, and slightly reduced rear visibility through the heated glass rear window shouldn’t be either – and at least the reversing camera is standard.
Crucially, the cabriolet doesn’t really compromise the 911’s usability or looks. True, folding a roof below a metal tonneau cover and above a flat six does lift the rear end 10mm or so – a tiny amount that gives it a slightly bulkier appearance, especially roof-down – but it still looks sharp, you’ve still got rear seats, of course the boot is the same size, and this soft-top continues to drive and entertain like a 911 should.
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I’ll admit to being one of those bores who’d err towards the coupe, but ignore me at the party – it’s the Carrera S Cabriolet that’s arguably the more versatile 911.
Model: Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
Engine: 2981cc flat-six bi-turbo, dohc, 24v
Max power: 331kW @ 6500rpm
Max torque: 530Nm @ 2300-5000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
0-100km/h: 3.9 sec
Economy: 9.1L/100km (combined)
On sale: Now