Behind the Wheel
Apart from the roof, the main difference between this car and the coupe I reviewed is that the Cabriolet is a regular Carrera while the coupe was the more powerful Carrera S. Even this car had spirited acceleration and a nice sound, including the optional sport exhaust and its "loud" button. Both non-S Carrera versions lose roughly two-tenths of a second in the zero-to-60 mph sprint, meaning a worst case of 4.8 seconds for the Carrera Cabriolet. As on the coupe, the optional PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission and Sport Chrono Package — both featured on my test car — each shave 0.2 tenths, for an estimated 4.4-second zero-to-60. Porsche says a comparably equipped Carrera S Cabriolet does it in 4.1 seconds.
Anyone can tell you a car with a fixed hard roof is the stiffer, lighter way to go, but the 911's convertible version is admirably rigid and exhibits all the coupe's athleticism. Like the coupe, it's a car you wear rather than sit in and operate. If you don't mind the other small tradeoffs, you're not giving up much. The Cabriolet doesn't even sacrifice mileage to the coupe: It's EPA-rated 20/28 mpg city/highway for the base engine with PDK in either body style, and 19/27 mpg for all other versions, regardless of transmission or body style.
The smaller engine's auto stop/start feature is notably more intrusive, though still not too bad. It might be coincidental, but so far I've found larger and/or more powerful engines to auto-start more smoothly, even when two sizes are available in the same car, as is the case here.
Annoyances: A Second Look
Returning to the things that bugged me in the coupe: The fake-metal trim and ridiculous retracting "cupholders" are as offensive as ever. Though this stereo was a different brand, its automatic volume again failed to compensate for changing noise levels. The Cabriolet's darker dashboard produced less windshield glare than the coupe's optional beige color, but I still think polarized sunglasses are a must.
This test car also added the optional keyless ignition, which is a lot like others, though most employ a push button or a small knob. In the 911 it's a big dummy key that sticks out of the dashboard as a regular keyfob would. It works fine; it's just odd looking. Ask anyone.
Due to their low volume, Porsches aren't crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 911 Carrera has six airbags — the front two along with two-piece side-impact airbags on either side. A torso airbag deploys from the seatback, and a head-protection airbag deploys upward from the door rather than downward from the ceiling. This gives the Cabriolet version head protection that some convertibles lack.
As is required of all new cars starting with the 2012 model year, the 911 has antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control . See all the standard safety features here.
911 Cabriolet in the Market
Sportiness is about feel, not specifications, and convertibles are often geared toward what automakers call a more "casual driver." This is why it might be harder to find, say, a Chevrolet Corvette with a manual transmission. Even more than the coupes on which they're based, convertibles tend to lean toward touring rather than sport. Bucking that trend is what makes the 911 Cabriolet stand out even more than the 911 coupe does among its rivals: For its combination of sportiness and open-air driving, the Cabriolet's high price might be more justified than the coupe's.