2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet First Review
- Soft-top version of eighth-generation 911
- Power top used up to 31 miles per hour
- Available in Carrera S or AWD Carrera 4S
- Twin-turbo 6-cylinder makes 443 hp/390 lb-ft of torque
- Prices start at $126,100 for Carrera S; $133,400 on Carrera 4S
The Porsche 911 Coupe and 911 Cabriolet are separated by more than a roof. Despite sharing a drivetrain, interior, and many technical details, the two sports car variants have distinct personalities and appeal to unique audiences. It’s easier to focus on the luxury, comfort and convenience characteristics of the Cabriolet, but make no mistake – it is still a potent performer with driving excitement on tap.
Porsche sports car history began with a convertible – the 1948 356 “No. 1” Roadster. Now, following closely on the heels of the introduction of the eighth-generation 911 Coupe (internal code 992) comes the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The new convertible benefits from many of the same updates that the coupe received, plus some structural and aesthetic changes necessitated by the cabriolet form.
Rear- or All-Wheel Drive
The newest 911 soldiers on with a signature layout that separates it from nearly all of its peers. With its engine in the rear, 911 has always required clever engineering and attentive driving to maximize handling. Electronic intervention in the form of traction management, electronic stability control, antilock brakes and other marvels have made 911 much safer and more approachable for a wide audience of drivers. Rear-wheel drive is the standard setup in the Carrera S. The 4S model brings all-wheel drive with a new front axle that uses a water-cooled differential and a clutch with reinforced plates for improved robustness and load capacity.
The engine that powers the 911 Carrera S and 4S Cabriolet is a new version of Porsche’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter horizontally opposed boxer six-cylinder gasoline engine, now tuned to produce 443 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Revs top out at 7,500 per minute, with a smooth torque curve throughout the range. An 8-speed dual-clutch automatic PDK transmission is standard. No word yet on when a manual transmission will be available. Top speed for the S is 190 mph; 188 mph for the 4S. Zero to 60 mph takes 3.7 seconds for the S, 3.6 seconds for the 4S. Opt for the Sport Chrono Package and you can knock 0.2 seconds off for either model.
When you lose the roof to create a convertible, you create engineering challenges. Not only do you have to figure out how the soft top operates and where it lives when it is open, you have to deal with the structure of the vehicle. Fail here, and you wind up with a convertible that flexes like a toboggan, leading to a loss in handling, not to mention a host of rattles and squeaks. The 2020 911 Cabriolet does not suffer from these maladies, not in the least. It is stiff and solid, thanks in part to an increased use of aluminum and high strength steel in the chassis. The beefed-up chassis, along with the mechanical underpinnings that operate the soft top, add about 155 lbs to curb weight versus the 911 coupe – enough to slightly ding performance.
Chassis and drive mode options can be configured on the 911, and unlike some cars, they really make a difference in how this sports car feels. Normal mode is a well-cushioned ride, but not so soft that road feel disappears. Sport mode is stiffer and sharper over bumps, and appropriate for smoother surfaces and maximum performance. PASM Sport Suspension and Sport Chrono Package are available in the Sport Package of options ($5,480), and add a further layer of customizability to the driving experience that’s well worth exploring.
Grand Touring Luxury
Once you’ve absorbed the performance and handling potential of the 911 Cabriolet, the premium luxury environment of the convertible takes center stage. Throughout the cabin of the 2+2 interior, neatly tailored materials and finely observed details abound. Porsche is particularly good at tactile luxury – everything you touch has a great feel. The center console switchgear is machined and gnurled, and operates with a satisfying thunk when actuated. It’s a little industrial, a little aviation-inspired, and all quality.
A new generation of power front Sport Seats with available heating, ventilation and leather trim are sized right for American proportions. The driver’s footbox is ample, with a great dead pedal. The passenger’s footbox is a little cramped on the right, lacking a flat surface – only a problem for tall passengers with larger feet.
Storage in the cabin is good, as long as you consider the vestigial second row of seats as a cargo hold. The split-folding rear seat adds convenience and volume. The front trunk can swallow a carry and briefcase in its 4.6-cubic-foot maw, but not much more. Careful closing that aluminum bonnet.
Top up or top down, 911 Cabriolet is quiet and composed. The top folds away within 12 seconds, and a rear wind screen makes it possible to drive and converse at the same time. Top in place, the cabin is as quiet as a coupe, with minimal wind noise and no flutter.
Trim Levels, Pricing, Options
There are two trim levels of 911 Carrera Cabriolet: The rear-wheel drive 911 Carrera S starts at $126,100; the all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4S starts at $133,400. Options and extras can add up quickly. Premium Package is $5,380, while Sport Package is $5,460. Simple, yet desirable options can be deceptively pricey. For example, selecting Seat Belts in Guards Red is a cool option to spruce up the cabin, but costs a shocking $540. Choose carefully if budget is an issue. Porsche says that the average household income of 911 buyers is in the neighborhood of $700,000, so perhaps $500 seatbelts don’t have the same impact in all neighborhoods.
Luxury and Performance in Harmony
Convertibles are not for everyone, just like sports cars are not for everyone. But the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet is an excellent car, especially for the driver who treasures both the open air and the open road.