Porsche 911 Cabriolet review

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A really desirable drop-top Porsche 911? You'd better believe it. Jonathan Crouch drives the '992'-series 911 Cabriolet.

Ten Second Review

The Porsche 911 Cabriolet has improved in huge measures with this '992'-generation model. The hood is a brilliantly-engineered piece of kit and the chassis dynamics are better than ever. It's getting pricey though.

Background

The Porsche 911 is more than just a car. It's a legend. As such, it carries a huge weight of provenance. Obscure design cues speak volubly. Individual colours have historical resonance. It's something to obsess over. Thing is, for some people it is just a car. A pretty and fast car, but just a car nevertheless. While most 911 purists would never choose an open-topped version, there's a healthy proportion of 911 customers who like the idea of limitless headroom.

'Real' 911 buyers tend to sniff at Cabriolet variants, denigrating those who choose them as not getting the whole 911 'thing', but so good is the latest '992'-generation car that perhaps the purists are painting themselves into a corner. If owner experience and enjoyment are key to owning a sports car, who's to deny that 911 Cabriolet customers aren't one step ahead of the obsessives?

Driving Experience

There's a weight penalty (70kgs) for choosing the Cabriolet body shape rather than the Coupe but that's well compensated for by the extra power on offer from the various versions of the twin turbo 3.0-litre flat six available with this '992'-series model. There are three mainstream choices, all offering the choice of either rear wheel drive or all-wheel drive and either 7-speed manual or 8-speed PDK auto gearboxes. Select from either the base 385PS Carrera, the 450PS Carrera S or this 480PS Carrera GTS. Even the base Carrera manages 62mph in just 4.4s en route to 181mph. The Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet we tried improves those figures to 3.5s and 191mph. If that's somehow not fast enough, then the all-wheel drive-only Turbo and Turbo S Cabriolet models beckon, respectively developing either 580PS or 650PS.

Whichever variant you choose, crucially, peak pulling power is developed low in the rev range from just 1,700rpm, which should make it easy to tap into the neck-snapping performance. When it comes to refinement and insulation, there's not much difference to the experience you'd get with a metal roof 911 Coupe (or indeed a glass-roof 911 Targa), so the compromises you've to accept when choosing the Cabriolet body style are slimmer than they've ever been. Handling is typically immersive and adaptive damping (or 'Porsche Active Suspension Management') is standard, as part of a suspension set-up that remains unchanged. If you're graduating on to a '992'-series Cabriolet from the previous '991'-series design, you'll notice that the steering rack has a faster ratio. And you'll appreciate this generation model's neat 'Wet mode' driving setting that senses the splatter or rain water in the wheel arches and then dials in appropriate settings for the engine, gearbox and safety systems at the same time as alerting you.

Design and Build

The shape of this '992'-generation car retains the classic 911 design cues but it looks sleeker than its predecessor and the more elegant silhouette certainly complements the Cabriolet design. You certainly don't get the hunchbacked look of many 911 Cabriolets of the past. It even looks great with the hood up, not something you can say of many cabriolets.

The hood itself is an intriguing piece of equipment. Porsche has never subscribed to the trend for folding hard tops and this roof incorporates a lightweight magnesium frame, uses a fabric-skinned composite panel for the upper and rear part of the structure and can be raised and lowered at speeds of less than 31mph. It takes just 12 seconds to raise or lower. It has a series of metal bows within it that maintain its shape when travelling at high speeds. You get a very effective windbreaker, too, while the roof now folds itself into position more compactly and so takes up less space.

Grab one of the motorised door handles to gain access to the cabin and you'll find the usual disciplined high quality Porsche interior. The brand hasn't followed its rivals by switching to a fully-digital instrument cluster, but most of what's on offer in the binnacle uses this technology, though the rev counter still retains a classic analogue dial. The seats remain beautifully comfortable and supportive. Plus, as ever in a 911, the rear pews are suitable only for tiny children or designer shopping bags. The front boot space offers 132-litres in the various Carrera models, regardless of your drivetrain choice; it's 128-litres with the Turbo variants.

Market and Model

There's a premium of £10,000 to choose the Cabriolet body style over the Coupe body shape on a 911. At the time of this test in Autumn 2023, that meant the 385PS Carrera version started at around £107,000. For the 450PS Carrera S Cabriolet, pricing as we compiled this review started from around £120,000 for the 2WD model. Add £6,000 to either of those prices if you want the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 models.

Next up in the range is the 480PS Carrera GTS model we're trying here, which at the time of this test started from £132,000 in Cabriolet form - or £138,000 in the all-wheel drive Carrera GTS guise we tried. Beyond that, there's the 580PS 911 Turbo Cabriolet, which cost around £169,00 at the time of this review - or just under £191,000 in 650PS Turbo S form.

At Carrera or Carrera S level, most customers will want to pay extra for the usual 'Sport Chrono package which includes a steering wheel-mounted mode switch including a 'SPORT Response' button. This set-up, standard on GTS and Turbo models, enables you to choose from five driving settings - 'Normal', 'Sport and 'Sport Plus', as well as an 'Individual' mode and the new 'Wet' mode which helps to support the driver in the wet. The 'SPORT Response' button sets both engine and transmission for the fastest possible unleashing of power for 20 seconds - ideal for quick overtakes.

Cost of Ownership

Despite being a more luxurious thing than its direct predecessor, intelligent use of lightweight materials means that the efficiency of this 911 Cabriolet isn't bad at all by class standards. The base Carrera Cabriolet manages up to 27.2mpg on the combined cycle and up to 235g/km - or up to 26.9mpg and up to 238g/km in Carrera 4 form. The Carrera S Cabriolet manages up to 27.4mpg on the combined cycle and 233g/km of CO2, while the Carrera 4S Cabriolet manages up to 27.2mpg on the combined cycle and 235g/km of CO2. Next up is the Carrera GTS Cabriolet, which manages up to 26.9mpg and 239g/km - or 26.2mpg and 244g/km in this Carrera 4 GTS form. Finally, the Turbo and Turbo S models manage up to 23.3mpg and 275g/km.

A major 911 buying incentive lies with this car's impressively high likely residual values. On the downside, because of the high up-front price of this car, it'll face the higher road tax rate of £450 for the first five years of ownership after the initially CO2-weighted payment that's rolled into the on-the-road price. Included as part of purchase is the usual three year warranty, though this one laudably doesn't come with any mileage limitations. This package can be extended by either one or two further years on request. 911 owners also get a three year breakdown recovery package, a three year paint warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion guarantee.

Summary

Though it looks almost identical to the 911 Coupe when the shapely hood's in place, the 911 Cabriolet is a car that in '992'-series form has emerged from the hard top model's shadow as an entity in its own right. It's a more convincing convertible car than ever before, plus the sleeker profile matched with greater technology and a more luxurious interior.

As with the Coupe model, Porsche is banking on the fact that the excellence of this car will help to simplify the decision over whether to commit to the significant outlay involved in buying it. With this much style matched to this much substance, you'd have to be tempted.

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