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Porsche 911 Cabriolet
9/10

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Road Test

Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet driven

Driven February 2012

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As far as I'm concerned the new 911 is a vast improvement. Mind you, unlike most Top Gear writers I was never a True Believer in the old one.

What's really miraculous is that the gap is even wider with the open version. Since we already said the coupe is the world's best sports car, and the cabrio retains all the core strengths of the coupe but adds a charm of its own, you can see I'd be being idiotically perverse if I kept you waiting for a verdict. It's flat-out brilliant. It simply steamrollers any rational argument against it.

The new roof is a bit of a work of genius. Sandwiched between the inner and outer layers of cloth are a series of lightweight magnesium panels. When the roof's up, the canvas is stretched over these panels to form what's effectively a hard top. It makes no more wind noise than a coupe and makes the silhouette a close match for the coupe's. But it folds into a far smaller space - and weighs less - than a folding hardtop.

Roof down, the cockpit aerodynamics are terrific. You're in the eye of a storm: it's windy outside but calm where you are. An electric roller-blind wind-blocker emerges from behind the back seats, so you don't have to keep it in the boot and wrestle it up like a slapstick deckchair. There are volcanically powerful seat heaters. You can travel roof down in weather of surprising inclemency.

This 991-series 911 has already shown us it makes vastly less tyre noise than the old one. And, if you spec the PASM adaptive dampers, it also has a really comfortable and pliant ride. Not ‘for a sports car', but comfy and pliant full stop.

So on the one hand we have a convertible that's almost ridiculously comfy and refined.

On the other, it's still an absolutely epic sports car. If you took engineer's measurements, no doubt the top-chopping process might have deprived it of rigidity. But when you drive, any shake and twist is as close to indiscernible as makes no difference.

The car has colossal grip and a kind of composure and reassuring stability the old one simply wouldn't recognise. In an old 911 Carrera, the nose always felt light, as if it was just giving suggestions to the back of the car, which was where all the turning momentum was vested. The new one has a properly planted front end, and you really feel all four tyres sharing the work.

And it's got a magically charismatic flat-six. And it's got child seats in the back and an OK boot in the front. And it feels like it'll still be running long after its owner has got old and died. And it's the most economical, lowest-emitting sports car of all. And so it makes £79,947 seem like a trifling sum.

But is it perfect? I guess the cupholders are a bit small for bottles. Back to the drawing board, Porsche.

Paul Horrell

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