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First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet (992). Image by Porsche.

First drive: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet (992)
Has the 'poser's Porsche' finally come of age? Time to try the 992 out as a Cabriolet.

 



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Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet (992)

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Never the most revered variant of the lengthy Porsche 911 canon, can this 992-generation take on the near-40-year-old Cabriolet formula convince the naysayers that this open-top sports car is worth serious consideration?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet (992)
Pricing: 911 Cabriolet (992) from 102,755, Carrera 4S Cabriolet from 108,063
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged horizontally opposed six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: PTM all-wheel drive with limited-slip diff, eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic
Body style: two-door convertible
CO2 emissions: 207g/km (VED Band 191-225: 1,240 first 12 months, then 450 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 31.4mpg
Top speed: 189mph
0-62mph: 3.6 seconds (with Sport Chrono package; 3.8 seconds otherwise)
Power: 450hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 530Nm at 2300-5,000rpm
Boot space: 132 litres

What's this?

The latest 992 Porsche 911, only with its top lopped off and a folding roof put in place of some metal. Following the Coupe 992's debut, this is the first derivation up the ramp for the eighth-generation 911 family, but we know much more 992 product will be forthcoming - such as a Targa and various incarnations of the GT3 and its RS-badged offspring, for instance.

Much excite, then, but clearly the Cabriolet is an important model, given its arrival so soon after the Coupe. And, like the fixed-roof 992, from launch we've got just the one engine in the cab - the 'S'-specification twin-turbo, 3.0-litre flat-six petrol, which delivers 450hp and 530Nm. Buyers will first have to gird their loins for the fact the soft-topped 911 is now a six-figure car from the off (prices start from 102,755). Oof. Anyway, once they've dealt with that, um... minor hiccough, they can choose between the rear-wheel-drive Carrera S Cabriolet, or load up Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive and tool around in a Carrera 4S Cabriolet (from 108,063), with both cars employing an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox and the Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management (PASM) active dampers-equipped chassis.

You might want to prepare for more initialisms and acronyms, because the Cabriolet, either as part of its standard kit or the lengthy and pricey options list, has the propensity to be loaded with them. There's a PASM Sport chassis that's 10mm lower than the standard PASM, there's Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+), there's Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes (PCCB), there's Rear-Axle Steering (RAS)... basically, the Cabriolet is privy to all the same upgradable equipment as the 992 Coupe. Where it differs is in the roof arrangement.

A four-piece, 'Z-folding' magnesium-and-aluminium fabric hood actually has enough structure to it to almost class as a hard-top, because it's impressively rigid and fantastic at cutting out exterior noise contributors. Nevertheless, it's lighter than the old 991 Cabriolet's roof and it can be folded away or raised up in just 12 seconds, even on the move at speeds of up to 31mph. Once it's retracted, an integrated, electrically operated wind deflector can pop up behind the front seats in a mere two seconds, although this obviously won't work if there's anyone sitting in the back of the 992 Cabriolet. Not that these passengers would be comfortable there, unless they're reasonably short - the rear seat backs are vertical and there's not a lot in the way of leg- and foot-room for those in the trailing two chairs of the Porsche. Better to think of the back seats as occasional cargo areas, because the deep and cuboid 'frunk' (that's a portmanteau of 'front trunk', in case you're wondering...) in the 911's nose measures in at an official, and measly, 132 litres.

Practicality be hanged, though, because you don't buy a 992 Cab as a functional family car. You buy it for its unstinting desirability factor. Top marks, then, for the cabin finishing. With the 10.9-inch PCM touchscreen in the centre console, a wholly re-sculpted main fascia, a driving position that's the very epitome of 'spot on' and a part-TFT, part-analogue instrument cluster that features its two outer, digital screens angled in towards the driver, there's an air of both effortless cool and impeccable quality in here. It also immediately makes the old 991's cabin look rather badly dated.

Less successful, at least on first glance, is the exterior aesthetic. Spend some time with the 992 Cabriolet and you come to appreciate it a whole lot more, especially so if it's in a strident colour like Racing Yellow, Miami Blue or the delightful Lizard Green, but at first you might feel it's a little bit, er... plump-arsed. Trying to stash a folding roof and a 3.0-litre flat-six in the backside of what is a compact car leads to a very high transom on the 911 Cabriolet, one that's not that much lower than the windscreen's header rail. Specify the car without the Sports Design Package - which raises the rear number-plate into the otherwise-featureless bumper to accommodate a diffuser below - and the slightly buck-toothed appearance of the 992 from dead-on behind is only exacerbated by the tonneau cover up above. It's an open-top which probably looks better with its roof up, which could lead to accusations that Porsche has kind of defeated the objective of the Cabriolet in the first place, but as we've already said, time with the design makes it start to look ever more appealing. And the full-width light strip at the back is superb when you're following the 992 Cab in the dusk, so fans of 'light signatures' can rejoice heartily at this point.

How does it drive?

Let's get one thing sorted straight away: the 992-generation 911 Cabriolet is fast. Like, insanely fast. What you have here is a 450hp engine powering nothing more than 1,635kg of car (4S; the Carrera S is 50 kilos lighter), and with the PDK gearbox and all the traction advantages of a rear-mounted engine, acceleration is borderline hypercar-quick. Both 992 Cabs will run 0-62mph in less than four seconds, the 4S making use of its extra driveshafts to post a 3.8-second sprint with the Carrera S just a tenth behind that. But equip the Sport Chrono package with its launch-control function and both will trim another two-tenths from their times, leading to a 4S Cab Sport Chrono posting a faintly ridiculous 3.6-second benchmark.

That's more accelerative than the 2001-launched 996 Turbo (420hp). Faster even than the same car but with the 'X50' pack, which took it to a matching 450hp. It's as quick as a 997 Turbo, for heaven's sake, and all this on-paper bravado translates into real-world 992 Cab performance which is scorching. Point the Porsche's nose at the middle distance and press that right-hand pedal, and it will hurtle off to meet the horizon in a quite breath-taking display of mid-range torque and high-revs fireworks. It's a shame the soundtrack doesn't quite match the sensation of having your internal organs rudely rearranged, as it's all chunters, chuffs and whistles from the turbocharged flat-six, rather than the metallic, angry growl that the older NA 911s used to possess, but the 992 Cabriolet doesn't sound bad.

Oh, and 2WD fans: it gets its own back on the 4S as speeds build. By 100mph, it has switched its one-tenth acceleration deficit to a two-tenths advantage (with or without Sport Chrono) and for the 0-124mph thrash, the Carrera S has moved three-tenths of a second ahead of its AWD sibling. It's also faster flat out, too, with a 190mph top speed compared to the ceiling of 189mph for the 4S.

There's another area where we reckon the two-wheel-drive 911 Cabriolet is inching ahead of the 4S and that's in the steering, which just feels that touch lighter and more faithful when it's not having to deal with tractive issues. However, the set-up in the 4S remains marvellous, some of the best EPAS equipment in the modern automotive game, and for the rest of the time, we couldn't discern any major difference between the 2WD and 4WD 911s, so we think the PTM-equipped car is worth opting for.

Otherwise, the report card for either Cabriolet's dynamic performance is this - it's the best, most rewarding soft-top 911 to steer by a long, long chalk. Avid Porsche-philes and po-faced petrolheads who think the default status of the world is to lay into convertibles for being poseur-ish, structurally infirm and just downright disappointing might want to look away now. There's very, very little in it, in terms of driver involvement, between the 992 Coupe and the 992 Cabriolet. Sure, the soft-top's lugging around another 70kg of weight with it compared to the Coupe, but if you think you can identify this on the roads, you must have superhero-levels of sensory perception.

The 911 Cabriolet is just tremendous to drive. With all that power, grip and traction, and the amazing steering, you might think it's just a point-and-squirt thing, but it really isn't. Gobsmacking is the way the 992 Cab can enact high-speed direction changes, without so much as an ounce of lean or histrionics. It'll power out of tight hairpins in a fury of flat-six thunder, without massively troubling its traction control system. It enjoys nuggety, difficult bends as much as it instils immense confidence in its driver through high-speed, high-commitment sweepers. And it has a simply sensational gearbox - PDK is another facet that can upset the Porsche fanatics, but when the twin-clutch gearbox responds so crisply and keenly and sweetly as it does in the 992, we genuinely don't miss three pedals in the footwell one iota.

Naturally, the Cabriolet is still the 911 which is probably closer to 'grand tourer' on the car character spectrum than it is to 'out-and-out track-day sports machine', so it's heartening to report that the latest Porsche is a delight to drive when you're not 'on it'. The ride on the adaptive dampers is good enough in Normal mode to have you contemplating large distances in the 992 with little fear of distastes, and this from a test car with the 10mm-lower Sports chassis and the standard-fit 20-inch front, 21-inch rear alloys (with road-roller 305-section rubber at the back). With the wind deflector up and the hood down, buffeting in the cabin is kept to the barest minimum levels and with the soft-top in place, motorway speeds are conducted with the sort of discretion and calm that wouldn't shame a Panamera, never mind a 911 Cab. Also, in regular driving, the PDK's silkily seamless display is as good as any full torque-converter automatic's performance. Taking everything into consideration, the 992 Cabriolet truly is a frighteningly talented all-rounder of a car - and (whisper this, but) it might even be better than the 992 Coupe.

Verdict

There are a few rivals in the 911 Cabriolet's class nowadays that could tempt you away from the Porsche, for one reason or another: the BMW 8 Series Convertible is inbound and has more space and more grand tourer ability than the 992, yet it has the same sort of power outputs to play with; the Jaguar F-Type Convertible certainly has the edge on looks and noise, and possibly price too, even if it's not as practical; Audi's tremendous R8 Spyder has THAT V10 in its midriff and is in the process of being updated, although it's a two-seater only; and the (also two-seats-only) Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster takes square aim at the Porsche 911, only it offers V8 power and more dramatic looks.

But not one of these can blend the Porsche's all-round talents into such a desirable package. While the 992 Cabriolet is more than happy being driven gently, and we suspect this is what most owners will do with it (rather than pounding it remorselessly around the Nordschleife), the 911's sports car DNA is well and truly preserved within its latest convertible shell. Previous iterations of the Cabriolet have always left us feeling ambivalent about their place in the grand scheme of things, but with the 992 take on the formula, we think the 911 Cab has finally come of age. It's a sublime open-top sports GT and a brilliant, engaging car, full stop.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 12 Mar 2019









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2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.

2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.2019 Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Image by Porsche.








 

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