Amongst the seemingly endless combination of body shapes and technology that is the new 911 range, we've just driven an entry-level Carrera 4 soft-top to see if Porsche’s four-wheel drive system, new 3.6-litre motor, manual gearbox and an open body is a good mix. Read on for our full review of the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet.
What do we have here: a new Porsche 911 with the wide body and the roof chopped off I suppose?
Yes, hot in the smouldering tyre tracks of a phalanx of new 911s is this, the new four-wheel drive cabriolet, tested here with an entry-level 3.6-litre engine and a manual gearbox. No journalistic whining about wrong-way-‘round gearshift paddles in this review, then. Yes, there’s the (very) subtle re-tailoring of the familiar 997 body with its new lights, bumpers and intakes - here applied to the 44mm wider structure also used for the Turbo variant – and in come the all-new direct injection and lighter flat-sixes with 40 percent less moving parts, increased power outputs and excellent economy figures. They are also, as you may have read by now, more environmentally friendly too.
The other big change is the adoption of Porsche’s PTM electromagnetic control for the centre differential, replacing the viscous coupling of before. A limited slip differential is also now standard. Porsche has had a go at face-lifting the interior, although apart from the much-improved infotainment system the changes are relatively minor.
Any changes on the drop-top side of things?
Yes, but confined to a harder wearing soft-top material. The roof still lowers and rises in 20 seconds, and you can activate it at up to 31mph, which is handy in a sudden downpour. Otherwise Porsche continues to shun the folding metal roof craze; a glass-roof Targa model is joining the line up in due course.
Click 'Next' below to read more of our Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet first drive
A Carrera 4 Cabriolet? Doesn’t sound like the 911 of serious driving types…
Traditionally, this is the sort of car – especially when once upon a time combined with Porsche’s Tiptronic auto transmission – that might draw a smirk of disgust from those 911 enthusiasts that know every gearbox design by type number. The reality here is actually somewhat different. Feeling almost traditional amongst the barrage of rapid-fire cogs, shift program buttons and launch control sequences that are now emanating from Stuttgart, this Cab is a really enjoyable steer.
The smaller ‘six’ seems sweeter than the new 3.8 motor, and with 340bhp and 288lb ft of torque it’s almost as powerful as the old S model. It genuinely feels quick, with a proper kick in the back once you’re past the mid range. What’s more, without the harsh sounds of direct injection seeping through the firewall this rapid progress is accompanied by a genuinely rich and resonant bark from the induction system once you’ve got some decent throttle angle underfoot. Considering the disappointing soundtrack of the new engines in the coupe, that’s most welcome. When you couple that with a slick and satisfying manual shift that makes the most of the crisp response available from the engine you’ve an endlessly enjoyable powertrain to thrash when the mood takes you.
Predictably the body will shake on rougher surfaces (although it’s not too bad) and the 85kg weight penalty with the convertible is slightly noticeable, but despite a softer suspension set up to compensate for the lack of rigidity the word ‘soft’ is slightly misleading here. This is still a very sporting and rapid car to drive.
Click 'Next' below to read our verdict on the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet
So is it worth paying the extra £4,360 for a ‘4’ when you buy a Cab?
Not really, no: if you’re after a 911 of this ilk then the benefits to the PTM system seem largely redundant, especially as there’s a slight loss of performance due to the additional weight. Having said that, the look of those wide hips will arm twist a few hands into wallets, and the weightier steering may be more to some tastes. There is, naturally, more traction on slippery surfaces, although the onset of understeer under power occurs sooner.
Although die-hard Porschephiles may scoff, this likeable 911 is no doubt the sort of model that will sell well in many markets and with good reason. Beyond that, it also shows that ‘character’ is one of the 911s most important attributes…