Purists be damned.
You know what’s a drag? Being an unyielding purist. Being so sure of your proper place on the high road that you would never deign to drive a convertible.
You know what is not a drag? The tumult of wind and noise and speed when you’re maxing out a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. The joy of giving over to your sensualist side, shutting out the naysayers and bores who insist that the only real 911 is a coupe. Forget them, because you can’t hear that nonsense over the sound of flat-six and wind shear at 120 mph
So, allow us to encourage you to be the second kind of person: the fun person. The kind of wide-eyed enthusiast who would consider the new 2020 911 Carrera S Cabriolet.
The 992 generation is upon us. Sales of the eighth-generation vehicle start with the Carrera S and 4S coupes in early summer, followed by the convertible versions a bit later. The coupe and cabriolet models are of course intrinsically linked. Feel free to see our first drive of the coupe here, but here are the major takeaways in regards to both.
The car has grown in size. The overhangs are longer, the front has widened in both the S and 4S models, and the S also gets a rear as wide as the 4S. The wheelbase is unchanged. It rides on staggered tires, with 21-inch wheels in the aft, and 20-inchers in front. The kicked stance looks good and helps the front wheels to turn.
The interior is totally reworked, with twin digital screens spread out in a neat line across the dashboard, echoing the interiors of much older 911s — before the advent of all those touch screens. There’s also a bunch of new technology like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist and brake assist. You know, the kind of stuff you find on luxury, grown-up cars. This stretching to the future also includes the mechanicals, which have been engineered in a way that they should more easily accommodate electrical motors for partial or full electrification at some later date.
Okay, so now that you’re caught up, let us mention that we drove both the S and the 4S Cabriolets outside of Athens, Greece, where the skies were blue and the Aegean Sea glittered in the distance.
Top up, the cab is quiet, with a roofline that grants plenty of headroom.
Top up, the cab is quiet, with a roofline that grants plenty of headroom. The rear window is glass, and the sound inside is nearly as quiet as a hardtop. But allow us to drop the top, which takes only a dozen seconds. You can open or close it driving at speeds up to 31 mph, and engage an electrical wind deflector.
Wind noise? Well, yes, because this is still a 911, and a sturdy stomp of gas moves the S model to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds with the Sport Chrono Package, and the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission blurs through gears until you’re moving all-too-easily at less-than-legal speeds.
The 3.0-litre flat-six has larger turbochargers in the 992 models, creating 443 bhp and 390 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t sound as good as the naturally aspirated lumps of old, sadly, but the tone is better and more voluminous with the top down.
Porsche updated its active suspension, called Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), for the 992 with new adaptive dampers at each wheel, a system that is especially welcome on a convertible. It allows the cabs to ride more softly over bad pavement — of which we found plenty of in Greece. The cars are comfortable when you’re cruising, and then firm up well when you activate Sport.
This time around, the company also offers a PASM Sport Suspension, which tunes the chassis much more aggressively. It affects the ride height, too – PASM Sport cars sit four-tenths of an inch lower than standard 911s
The optional rear-wheel steering system encourages sharper turn-in. Steering overall is excellent and even more direct (11 percent more direct, says Porsche), but the four-wheel-steer car is even more agile and quick. You should absolutely order the rear-axle steering, and then go a step further and grab Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, which adds adaptive sway bars. So equipped, the 911 handles like a supercar. And you’re already spending a lot of money, so what’s another £2,273 for improved handling, right?
With rear-axle steering and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, the 911 handles like a supercar.
Oddly, we best experienced both the 911 Cabriolet’s overall liveability and its agility not on mountains roads, but in the madness of urban traffic. The Greek drivers have an alarming tendency to pull out directly in front of you while pointedly not looking at you — basically daring you to either brake or crash into them. So you need to dart through tight spaces at a nanosecond’s notice.
The Porsche nimbly danced through these automotive blockades and pirouetted through roundabouts with indefinable traffic patterns. Our head was on a continuous swivel, but the 992’s ability to instantly brake – thanks to the standard Brembo brakes, which include a lightweight carbon-ceramic option – or explosively shove forward made the traffic not only bearable, but fun. And you want a convertible to be fun in traffic, right?
Hey, don’t get us wrong. We love our Porsche GT cars (and a base 911 with a manual, too). But if you were to drive your 911 every day, wouldn’t it be nice to do so breathing the open air? If you’re that kind of driver, that kind of fun person, you’re not too good for the new 911 Cabriolet. In fact, you might be a perfect fit.
Gallery: 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet: First Drive
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet