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Car Review

Porsche 911 Cabriolet review

£148,960 - £170,410
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Published: 11 Mar 2019
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

A modern cabrio has to do two things to be taken seriously: not flop about on a challenging road like the chassis is made of waterlogged kitchen roll, and insulate its occupants so they’re not subjected to storm-force winds while enjoying the great outdoors. If we’re getting greedy, being exposed to a decent soundtrack wouldn’t go amiss either.

The 911 gets off to a flier. Its mostly aluminium body is lighter than before, but stiffer too. The stronger body and new super-rigid engine mounts mean the car feels superbly stiff. Even bounding along rough roads with the suspension in its harder Sport mode, the rear-view mirror doesn’t wobble off the windscreen surround and you don’t feel the steering wheel lolling from its mountings in your hands. Everything feels completely solid, utterly harmonious, and while you know you’re carrying 70kg extra weight versus the coupe, with so much power on tap, you’d struggle to ever notice it.

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The 3.0-litre bi-turbo flat-six is a tower of power, with a delivery that’s so smooth and uniform you could serve dinner on the torque curve. Left to its own devices, it’s a very civilised powertrain, doing polite business with the gearbox. Put your foot down and, bar a slightly over-excited kickdown in the sportier modes, it’s a responsive and very fast car. Take control manually with the paddles and it’s absurdly, brutally quick. 0-62 happens in 3.7sec, or 3.5sec if you tick the Sport Chrono box. Three point six in a boggo Carrera cabrio. That’s unbelievable pace.

Traction is so absolute, the four-wheel drive C4S version is only a tenth of a second quicker to 62mph. And now there’s a new Wet mode which can literally listen out for rain coming off the tyres and suggest a nigh-on uncrashable driving mode that limits power and amps up the driver assistance, you’d have to really question the need to shell out for the Carrera 4S now. You get 21-inch rear tyres for goodness sake. How much more traction could you possibly need?

During that fierce acceleration, the noise builds over your head from a fairly dull clatter to a much crisper bark as the revs max out. It’s a better, more authentic sound than the slightly boomy coupe, though we’d not bother to shell out for the sports exhaust – these days there’s not enough differentiation between the voices of the two systems.

On part throttle, the Cabrio really comes into its own. You can start to enjoy the Carrera’s turbocharged whooshes and chunters, pretending you’re in one of Porsche’s phenomenally successful and scary 1970s Le Mans specials. Only, you’ve got a heated steering wheel. Pop-out cupholders. And one of the best in-car stereos known to mankind, if you spec the Burmester hi-fi.

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So far, we’ve only tested cars with the 10mm lower sports chassis, and there’s no ‘non-S’ model to judge. But as a package, the rear-drive S with PDK is sensationally complete. The front end’s faithful, the steering is weighted with beautiful precision that laughs in the face of modern BMW’s doughy heft and the overly quick, undetailed watering of, say, a Jaguar F-type. Lovely steering wheel too, though the thumbhooks and stitching is a bit sharp on the smaller ‘GT’ steering wheel. Yep, that’s how nitpicky we’re getting here.

You need trust in the front end, mind, and confidence in the reaction and collosal grip, because boy does the new 911 feel BIG. It’s a one-size fits all bodyshell now, as wide as the old GTS, and on anything other than dual-carriageways, you’re breathing in when anything bigger than a bicycle comes the other way.

Because the car’s so deft and responds so accurately it’s easier to place than an aloof F-Type or 8-Series, and the buxom front wings and wide hips give you a better idea of where the extremities lie than when you’re tanking along in the Aston Martin Vantage. But be in no doubt, the days of the lithe little 911 having more road to play with than its rivals are over. That’s a shame, a lovely trait lost in the pursuit of cabin space, crumple zones and more and more grip.

Get the thing on-boost on a corner exit and you can meter out the power remarkably accurately for such a hefty, brutally quick car. There’s very little between the AWD and 2WD cars on the road, but we’d go 2WD to save a micron of fuel, a smidge of weight, a chunk of cash and know the car’s ever so slightly more throttle-adjustable in the corners, even if it’s a trait you’ll rarely unlock, like a chronograph’s water diving depth.

More relevant is the Cabrio’s top-down manner, which is pretty impeccable. The roof’s quiet and swift to retract at up to 31mph. Blustering in the cabin is minimal, and though the pop-out wind-deflector is a great piece of packaging and theatre, what it removes in extra buffeting it adds in wind noise. To go fast enough to really feel the benefit, well, you’d rather have the top in place, really.

As it turns out, the 992 to have is the cheaper 911 Carrera. No, not the S. And no, TG hasn’t taken leave of its senses. Less is more here, and not simply because the ‘non-S’ is £10,000 cheaper and looks identical inside and out (bar slightly smaller wheels which actually look less overwraught). 

No, our logic here comes from the fact the Carrera uses almost exactly the same 3.0-litre flat-six engine as the S. Sure, Porsche is at pains to point out changes in turbo size and boost pressure,  but really, the 62bhp / 59lb ft deceit is down to an ECU tweak. So for a start, the Carrera sounds the same as the S. You can spec the same sports exhaust. And as it’s a meagre half a second slower from 0-62mph, there’s just that bit longer to savour the engine’s finest noises as it zips past 7,000rpm. Meanwhile, this car is still fast enough to outrun small arms fire – it’ll do 0-62mph in 4.0sec and 182mph flat out. You simply don’t need a faster car. The S isn’t worth the extra outlay. Spend it on the wood interior and a hi-fi upgrade instead. And some tyres – they’ll cost you less than the 21-inch road rollers on the S anyway.
 

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Porsche 911 S 2dr PDK
  • 0-622.8s
  • CO2257.0g/km
  • BHP650
  • MPG
  • Price£170,410

the cheapest

Porsche 911 2dr PDK
  • 0-622.9s
  • CO2257.0g/km
  • BHP580
  • MPG
  • Price£148,960

the greenest

Porsche 911 S 2dr PDK
  • 0-622.8s
  • CO2257.0g/km
  • BHP650
  • MPG
  • Price£170,410

Variants We Have Tested

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