Porsche's 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet takes the already attractive performance package of the regular Carrera convertible and adds sure-footed all-wheel drive. The result is even more capable handing and greater responsiveness in low-grip conditions such as rain or snow - meaning that this 350-horsepower drop-top is the perfect convertible for all four seasons.
Mounted at the rear is a 350-horsepower, 287 lb-ft of torque 3.4-liter flat-six that's shared with the standard Cabriolet. Despite packing no additional ponies, the extra AWD traction lets the Carrera 4 Cabriolet shave a few tenths off the zero-to-60 mph time of its sibling - equipped with the standard (and industry-first) seven-speed manual, the deed takes 4.9 seconds, while Porsche's PDK dual-clutch gearbox lowers that time to 4.7 seconds (4.5 with the Sport Chrono package).
Distinguishing the Carrera 4 Cabriolet from rear-wheel-drive 911s are extra-wide rear fenders that house extra-wide rear tires and a red light bar that spans the gap between the rear taillights.
In most other respects, the Carrera 4 Cabriolet is the same as the rest of the new, 991-series 911 family. It's longer, lower and around 150 pounds lighter than the last-gen model, although the styling still remains faithful to the original 911 that debuted way back in 1963. A more efficient engine and the seven-speed gearboxes equate to improved fuel economy - the EPA rates the manual transmission model at 19/26 city/highway mpg, while the dual-clutch version returns 20/27 mpg.
Another change is a new electromechanical steering system, which is highly accurate but filters out a bit more road feedback than the last setup did.
Inside, the cabin sports a sloping center console along with an overall look inspired by the Panamera sedan. The cockpit is now more driver-focused, featuring a center console that rises up towards the front with the gear shifter or selector closer to the steering wheel. Not all interior details are new, however, as Porsche stuck with a traditional five round gauge cluster arrangement, with one gauge being a high-resolution multifunction screen.
In typical Porsche luxury fashion, the roof is nicely tailored and well insulated for those days when the roof must be up. A matching removable hard-top roof is also available.
As with other Porsches, the Carrera 4 Cabriolet can be had with a nearly infinite variety of optional features and packages - for a price. Inside, four different types of seats can be had, while buyers can also spec aluminum, wood, carbon fiber or alcantara trim. Audiophiles can choose between Bose or Burmester sound systems, the latter with 821 watts of crisp-sounding output.
Highlights from the performance options include Ceramic Composite Brakes that provide reduced stopping distances with little fade, a Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) electronically controlled damper system and the Sport Chrono Package, which includes features like analog and digital stopwatches in addition to Dynamic Engine Mounts that improve cornering stability.
Also available is the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PD CC) active roll stabilization system, which reduces lateral inclination when cornering by allowing the tires to always be in the optimal position relative to the road surface, allowing the car to sustain higher lateral forces.
All 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet models come standard with dual front, front side, front knee and head curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and an emergency braking preparation system.
As an all-wheel-drive sports car, the 911 Carrera 4 convertible's closest rivals are the Audi R8 Spyder and BMW 6-Series Convertible. If buyers are willing to settle for just two drive wheels, the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible and the Jaguar XK Convertible merit consideration.