2018 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet
One of the most iconic and instantly recognizable sports cars in the automotive landscape, the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet delivers an exquisite driving experience marked by impeccable performance and surprisingly high levels of luxury. Options add further luster but inflate the bottom line at an alarming rate; thankfully, even in "entry-level” form, the 911 is serious fun.
For those who can do without the wind-in-your-hair experience of a convertible, Porsche also offers the fixed-roof 911 Carrera Coupe.
Like a fine wine aged to perfection over many years, the 911 has been carefully refined and improved since its debut back in 1963. The characterful and idiosyncratic rear-engine, boxer six-cylinder formula has remained an unvarying constant, but acceleration, handling, fuel efficiency and driver comfort have all reached impressive new heights in the latest series, known internally by the 991 codename.
Outside, things look much as they always have, although closer inspection reveals a 3.9-inch longer wheelbase compared with the previous model - a change that benefits proportions, interior space and stability. Although a larger car than its predecessor in nearly all dimensions, increased use of aluminum body panels means the 911 is slightly lighter than before.
Luxury sedan-grade materials and design characterize the cabin, with a nearly unlimited range of options - including extended leather, several seat designs, numerous colors and aluminum, carbon fiber and wood trims - available to suit the buyer's taste. Accouterments such as heated/ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel and a high-end Burmester sound system are also available to please sybarites.
A sloping center console marks a departure from previous 911s, bringing an elegant look and a more convenient gearshifter location at the expensive of a somewhat more constricted cabin feel. Still, space and comfort are in ample supply for the front seat passengers; the tiny, vestigial rear seats remain most useful as a supplement to the 5.1-cubic-foot front trunk.
Uniquely, the 911's fully power-operated convertible top contains magnesium panels that reduce wind noise, improve insulation and offer extra theft protection. The setup takes just 13 seconds to lower, an operation that can be performed on the move at speeds of up to 31 mph. A fully electronic wind deflector can be raised at the touch of a button to keep wind buffeting to a minimum.
Better handling through technology
Handling remains the 911's raison d'etre, with its precision, agility and confidence-inspiring dynamics standing as sports car benchmarks. The electric-assist steering system is crisp and accurate, though feedback has diminished slightly compared with the last model's hydraulic setup. Despite its performance capabilities, the 911 has a reasonably compliant ride that won't beat up drivers who use the car for their daily commute.
The newly-standard Porsche Active Suspension Management System (PASM) brings a front lip spoiler, an enhanced rear spoiler, a slightly lower ride height and, most significantly, electronically adjustable dampers with a choice of "Normal” and "Sport” settings.
Enthusiasts wanting even more responsiveness are offered the choice of several technology options.
The Sport Chrono Package adds a third mode - "Sport Plus” - as well as stability-enhancing dynamic engine mounts and a combination digital/analog stopwatch mounted atop the dashboard. In additional, manual transmission models get rev-matched downshifts, while PDK-equipped cars receive launch control.
Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) includes an electrohydraulic anti-roll bar system that effectively eliminates bodyroll.
A brake-based torque vectoring system brings a mechanical rear differential (manual cars) or an electronic rear differential (PDK cars) and applies the inside rear brake to ensure neutral handling in turns.
Porsche Carbon Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) significantly reduce brake fade and also trim stopping distances.
Finally, Power Steering Plus adds a variable steering system that adjusts effort based on vehicle velocity - reducing effort at parking lot speeds and increasing it on the highway.
The 911 is offered with a wide range of engine, transmission and drivetrain configurations, all of which are described in detail below.
911 Carrera Cabriolet and 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet
The "base model,” known as the 911 Carrera, is fitted with a turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six engine that produces 370 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 331 lb-ft of torque at from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm. Output is sent to the rear wheels via either a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic called the PDK.
The manual-equipped 911 Carrera sprints from zero-to-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while the PDK model hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (4.2 with Sport Chrono).
The 911 Carrera 4 adds traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive along with wider rear fenders. It's slightly heavier than the rear-wheel-drive variant, resulting in 0.1-second slower acceleration.
The 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera 4 are fitted as standard power one-touch up windows, Porsche's Communication Management infotainment system, navigation, Apple CarPlay compatibility, a 150-watt sound system with eight speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, a HomeLink transceiver, three 12-volt plugs, cruise control, parking sensors, a rear-view camera, auto on/off bi-xenon headlights, sport seats, dual-zone A/C, and partial leather upholstery on the seats.
911 Carrera S Cabriolet and 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet
Stepping up to the 911 Carrera S nets an evolution of the 3.0-liter that pumps out 420 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 368 lb-ft. of torque from 1,700 to 5,000 rpm.
Fitted with the seven-speed manual, the 911 Carrera S attains 60 mph from a dead stop in 4.3 seconds, while the PDK lowers that time to 4.1 seconds (3.9 with Sport Chrono).
The 4S entails the same changes as the standard 4.
Both the S and 4S build upon the Carrera's standard features list with extras like torque vectoring, upsized front brakes with six-piston calipers, and 20-inch wheels.
All 911 Carrera Cabriolet models are fitted as standard with dual front, front side and front knee airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Available as an option is a forward collision warning and mitigation system. It warns the driver in the event of an impending collision and, if necessary, can apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of a crash.
The 911 Carrera Cabriolet faces competition from a range of diverse rivals, including performance machines like the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible and the Jaguar F-Type, as well as luxury roadsters such as the BMW 6-Series convertible.