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Porsche 911 Porsche 997 Carrera Cabriolet

Driven May 2005

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So what's wrong with a 911 Cabrio? It's still a 911, the hood is an excellent piece of work, and when it's down you are in a better position to savour the high point of 911 ownership, which is that evocative flat-six woofle coming from the wrong part of the car. It will get a bit dustier on the inside than the regular car does and maybe the lines aren't quite as tidy as they are on the coupe, but let's be honest here - the days when the base 911 looked intrinsically right are long gone.

What bothers me about it is this; the suspension is the one mechanical aspect of the new 911 that has been meddled with in the roofless version, and in the interests of ride. 'Ride is important in the Cabriolet,' we are told by the contrapuntal souls at Porsche, presumably because the sort of people who buy it have spent a lot of money on their teeth and don't want to lose them.

And on whatever an A road is called in Spain, the ride is perfectly acceptable, because they're all new. But turn off on to one of those backstreets that the EC subsidies have yet to reach and it becomes a bit choppy. Worse than this, the sense of absolute security you feel in a long sweeper in the coupe is lost somewhere in the Cabrio mix, leading to a sense of frustration and insecurity behind the wheel. And you don't buy a 911 for that, whatever form it takes. I can't help feeling that if you desperately want an open-top Porsche, you should really be buying a Boxster.

Returning to Beethoven for a moment; the true test of great music is said to be its indestructability in the hands of arrangers. Ludwig did Diabelli proud with the variations he produced on what amounted to a pretty lacklustre dance ditty. But with the 911, it's still the basic tune that's most memorable.

James May

15/20
We say: A pretty good cabriolet, but a strangely disappointing 911. Buy a Boxster, instead.
Price: £65,260
On your drive for: £1,610pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 5.2secs, max speed 177mph, 25.7mpg
Tech: 3600cc, flat six, RWD, 325bhp, 273lb ft, 1480kg, 270g/km CO2

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