The Carrera, internally designated the 992, has grown in size (though the wheelbase is the same), and is more complicated than ever, with standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking joining other new tech features available on the extensive options list. Those warning signs aside, our test of the coupe proved that it still retains that essential 911-ness that we love.
The recipe for the 992 cab is essentially the same except for that removable roof and a retuned chassis. The S Cabriolet is noticeably wider — 1.8 inches up front and 1.5 inches at the rear. It also gets staggered 20- and 21-inch wheels, shod in Pirelli P Zeros. With the roof down, those generous proportions are even more exaggerated, especially with the new, longer nose. The Cabriolet has presence, especially in Guards Red or Racing Yellow.
We drove both the convertible S and 4S outside of Athens, Greece, on a sunny day in the high 60s. Greece, whose economy has struggled in the last decade, is not famous for the smoothness or upkeep of its roads. Our route was a mixture of iffy coastal byways and pebble-strewn tracks. Very little of it allowed for take-no-prisoners style driving.
Give the masters of Stuttgart this: They are clearly confident in the chassis.
We began in an all-wheel-drive 4S equipped with the optional rear-axle steering, the 48-volt-powered Dynamic Chassis Control (an active roll stabilization system), and Power Steering Plus (a speed-sensitive system that reduces effort at lower speeds). These and other options brought the $133,400 base to $166,280.
It also had PASM Sport Suspension, which features stiffer springs and sway bars added to Porsche’s adaptive suspension system along with a lowered ride height of 0.39 of an inch. This is the first time the option has been an available on a cabriolet. Basically, it’s the first time Porsche thinks a topless car can handle it.
Thank the new adaptive dampers that work individually at each tire, using magnetic control valves. The span of firmness is remarkable. Change the sport setting and even your cellphone-addicted passenger will notice it.
That being said, the sports suspension is probably best left to locales with smooth roads. While the coupe feels smooth on almost every surface, the sports-suspension-equipped 4S Cabriolet is choppier and less pliant.
The car itself is notably neutral, even with the all-wheel-drive setup. The new staggered tire setup provides sensational bite up front, showing great willingness to change directions. The optional rear-axle steering rotates the car beautifully, without ever seeming to go overboard or feel artificial.
The 4S was certainly stable even on gravelly roads. But at slow-to-medium speeds, the front wheels rarely engaged in a discernible way. For daily driving, you don’t need the added traction provided by the 4S.
We switched over to an S, and immediately noted that it was lighter up front. It’s sprightlier in feel and attitude. At 3,547 pounds, it is 104 pounds lighter than the AWD 4S, and those savings also make the chassis more supple. Our S model shared all of the options as the 4S, and also came with a $5,560 Burmester stereo, coming to a staggering total of $170,810.
We got a half-hour stretch on a mountain road with decent tarmac and deep corners. The S came alive, ringing our ears with the sound of the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, flat-6. It is delightfully balanced, and attuned to subtle driving inputs. Winging through switchbacks, the sound of tires and brakes and the turbos working hard together, makes for a great, visceral experience. This 911 is still lots of fun.
Much of the magic comes from the Dynamic Chassis Control’s active anti-roll bars (credit Bentley, which first engineered the 48-volt system for the Bentayga SUV). The car is so level that a marble would barely roll around in the footwell.
The car is plenty powerful to make short, hard passes. Piezo fuel injectors and bigger turbochargers push output to 443 horsepower, an improvement of 23 horses from the 991.5 car. Torque is up 22 pound feet, to 390. The PDK transmission has been revised with an extra eighth gear. The seven-speed manual has also been revised, but will arrive later.
The new horizontally-oriented interior may have impressed in the coupe, but it is arguably even more pleasing when viewed with the top off. The digital screens work fine in direct sunlight and our test car’s Bordeaux red leather positively shines. There’s a genuine cupholder (see video below), and enough hard buttons to control the important stuff.
Add to that the quickness of the roof operation, which works up to 31 mph. The roof looks good when it’s up, too. There are no unseemly bulges in the fabric between the frame segments, and the silhouette mimics the coupe surprisingly closely.
If you want a more hardcore 911, you’ll likely have to wait longer in the rollout cycle for the GTS. But if you’re lucky enough to live in a place like Greece (or, more likely, California), where the sun shines most every day, the Cabriolet makes for a compelling package.