2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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I don't think I'm alone in naming the 911 one of my favourite cars. Porsche's provided me with many over the years, this latest iteration a beautiful black Cabriolet in fairly basic trim, and while I'm normally more of a coupe guy this drop-top didn't take long to get under my skin, in a good way.

I'm guessing you're getting used to the new look. Its uniquely shaped front turn signals with their requisite LEDs update the front end styling enough to be fresh while not straying too far from the classic Carrera look we enthusiasts love so much, but those Henckels-shaped taillights are a radical departure from 911s past. You'll either love them, abhor them or maybe you're still undecided, but I fell for them immediately. Maybe it's there smaller size? My heart still rooted to 1973, I was never a fan of the 911 light bar treatment that followed, although I'd put up with it to get my hands on a pristine '95 to '98 Polar Silver 993. Yes, I've had my collection of Porsches preselected for years, only awaiting the perfect opportunity when enough spare cash and garage space combine. If all the stars aligned mind you, I'd also opt for a 2013 911 Carrera.

This black beauty in the photos is as good as sports cars get. Sexily shaped. Brilliantly quick. Perfectly balanced. Surprisingly practical with lots of front trunk and back seat storage plus room for the kids in a pinch. And just enough luxury to make you feel like your $110,885 wasn't just spent on performance. My tester was a bit pricier at $125,470 including freight and pre-delivery prep. It doesn't take much the hike up the price of any 911, but the features Porsche added to this particular Cabriolet were worth the extra coin. The list included 20-inch Carrera Classic wheels for $3,120, Porsche Active Suspension Management at $2,390, the must-have Sport Chrono package for $2,110, and more, but honestly you really don't need to add anything to a stock 911 Cabriolet to make it a substantially better open top sports car.

It might just have the stiffest convertible body in the industry. You won't feel any twisting or cowl shake no matter how hard you fling it into a corner and no matter how bumpy the road underfoot gets. And that's despite having a 100-mm longer wheelbase plus added width. The extra interior room is much appreciated. It's not so much bigger that it takes away from the car's intimacy, but is now sizable enough inside to accommodate larger drivers or make smaller ones like me feel a little less tucked in. And really, all I care about is having enough elbowroom to effectively control the 911's meaty three-spoke steering wheel and shift the new seven-speed manual gearbox.

If you want yours with Porsche's highly efficient paddle-shift actuated seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automated transmission by all means ante up, but despite the new-age gearbox's impressive performance (it shaves 0.2 seconds off the sprint to 100km/h) I prefer the old-school DIY feel of a manual in a sports car, particularly if it's as slick as the anything-but-old-school Porsche seven-speed. Yah, you heard that right. I mentioned it twice just in case you thought it was a typo. Seven forward speeds in a manual gearbox, the first of its kind and mighty cool if only to impress your friends at the driving range. It feels just like the old six-speed until notching it over to the right and upwards one more time in similar fashion to the much older five-speed manual. The extra gear allows for a higher top speed and better fuel economy, either welcome.

I slotted it into seventh quite often to save on fuel while on the highway, but I must admit to never ever reaching speeds dear enough to search out the car's potential top end. Porsche claims 286 km/h and makes sure to call it "top track speed" so as not to promote reckless driving, and I don't doubt their additional claim of five seconds to 100 km/h. But 10.9 city, 7.3 highway and 9.3 combined? Not a chance. I believe the U.S. EPA numbers though, as they're closer to what I achieved, coming in at a metric converted 12.4, 8.7 and 10.7 L/100km. Use the Canadian numbers for comparison if you must, although I think the only people who care about a 911s fuel economy either work for Porsche or the world's various governing regulators.

It's how the car drives that matters most, and believe me you won't be disappointed. After picking it up from Porsche's local rep I headed toward a favourite winding road nearby. It's one of those out of the way strips of tarmac with wonderfully tight turns, plenty of dips and dives, unruly stretches of broken pavement and one ridiculous drop-off that allows temporary flight just before a sharp right hander, and most important of all, zero residential homes, no businesses and therefore very light traffic. The 911 Cab, its lightweight magnesium paneled fabric-covered roof lowered in mere seconds, takes even less time to produce an ear-to-ear grin, its stock 350-horsepower 3.4-litre boxer six putting out a prodigious 288 lb-ft of suck-you-back-into-your-seat torque. It's so unfathomably stable through high-speed corners that the grin turns to a look of shock immediately followed by mischievously silly giggles, body lean totally imperceptible even through consecutive throttle-on rights, lefts and rights, yet suspension compliant enough to soak up those aforementioned bits of broken pavement and braking power sufficient to scrub off speed in a seeming instant. Truly, you don't know what a car is capable of until you drive a 911 over a worthy road at unjustified speeds.

Of course, the beauty of a 911 is that it feels just as easy to drive amidst city traffic. I'd happily commute in this car, its sport seats comfortable and supportive, amenities superb, especially its infotainment system that's now as good as anything in the class with superb sound from the stereo and standard navigation that's easy to use and always got me to where I was going. But it's the way everything inside the cabin comes together that really makes the difference from past 911s to new. The 2012 upgrade was even more extensive inside than out, the 911 adopting much of the gorgeous interior design and all of the high-grade materials quality from the much-lauded Panamera four-door coupe. Now no one should complain about anything, except maybe the electronic parking brake, which combines with a grabby hill holder system that bogged down the engine and stalled more than once while taking off from a steep hill. "Ha… look at that fool who can't even drive his new Porsche!" onlookers leered without having to say. Give me back my handbrake please, or at least lighten up on the clamp-like hill holder.

That's the extent of my complaints, as the 2013 911 Carrera Cabriolet is pretty near perfect, or at least that's how it seems now, ahead of Porsche once again improving it as they always do. But this is the best 911 yet. And while my eyes lust after a '73 911 S and my wallet only hopes to achieve a '98 993, my heart now belongs to Porsche's brand new 911. Maybe that luscious Lime Gold Metallic Carrera S I tested last year, but then again this Basalt Black 911 Carrera Cabriolet would do just fine. The extra power of an S would only get me in more trouble anyway.

Here's to dreams coming true.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Convertible, Porsche, 2013, 911 Carrera Cabriolet, $99,999+,

Organizations: Porsche

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