Driven: 911 Cabrio proves that evolution's better than revolution
However, with each new generation of the car, there’s no denying that the company’s been able improve upon a successful formula that’s made it one of the most iconic vehicles on the planet.
The global launch of the 2019 (992) Porsche 911 Cabriolet took place in Greece last weekend, so I jumped on a flight out there to see if it’s as good as it needs to be to retain its iconic status.
The new Cabrio model follows the styling established with latest 992 Coupé launched earlier this year. It offers a fully-automatic soft top with an integrated glass rear window, while the soft top structure contains magnesium surface elements known as ‘bows’, which prevent ballooning of the roof at high speeds.
The soft top can be opened or closed at speeds up to 50km/h, while new roof hydraulics reduce opening time to around twelve seconds. An electrically-operated wind deflector ensures that heads are shielded from wind buffet too.
The new 911 Cabriolet looks wider, more self-assured and (from some angles) more muscular than its predecessor.
Wider haunches arch over 20-inch wheels at the front and 21-inch wheels at the rear (for the first time on a Cab). The rear-wheel-drive models now also match the bodywork width of the all-wheel-drive models too.
But, the party’s at the back here, as the rear of all models remain dominated by a significantly wider, variable-position spoiler and a continuous, seamless light bar.
On the inside, it retains that familiar 911 feel. Alongside the centrally positioned rev counter, two thin, frameless displays deliver information to the driver.
You also get a standard 27cm central touchscreen through which the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system can be operated.
The 911 Cabriolet is being launched in SA (as it is around the world) as a Carrera S with rear-wheel drive and Carrera 4S with all-wheel drive.
There’s no ‘standard’ Carrera yet, and we are still salivating for the Turbo and Turbo S models.
The Carrera S and the Carrera 4S both, however, use a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged six-cylinder boxer engine with 331kW on tap at 6500rpm and 530Nm torque between 2300 and 5000rpm.
Porsche say the vehicle’s drive efficiency has been increased and emissions reduced by way of an improved fuel injection process.
Other optimisation measures have also been implemented, such as a new layout for the turbochargers and charge-air cooling system.
You’ll get 9.1l/100km if you drive lightly, but naturally, expect it to sit in the 15s if you hoof around from place to place...
Power is delivered to the tarmac via a newly developed eight-speed dual-clutch (PDK) transmission.
We managed to find some quiet, abandoned roads in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Athens to see just how quickly it could gallop.
The Carrera S accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds (with optional Sport Chrono Package: 3.7 seconds) and it can reach 306km/h.
The Carrera 4S reaches a top speed of 304km/h and achieves 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds (with optional Sport Chrono Package: 3.6 seconds).
Porsche engineers say new engine mounting positions make the Cabriolet even more rigid than its predecessor and, for the first time, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) sport chassis is available for the 911 Cabriolet.
The springs used for PASM cars are harder and shorter, the front and rear anti-roll-bars are more rigid, and the chassis overall is lowered by 10mm. These adjustments aim to give the 911 a more neutral feel on the road, with better weight distribution too.
In what the manufacturer claims to be a world first, Porsche has developed ‘Wet Mode’, which is included as standard. This function autonomously detects water on the road, pre-conditions the control systems accordingly, and warns the driver, who can then set the car up to focus on safety by simply using the mode dial on the sports steering wheel in a ‘Sport Chrono’ model.
A camera-based warning and brake assist system, also fitted as standard, detects the risk of collision with vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists, and initiates a warning or emergency braking procedure if necessary. A park assistant system with reversing camera comes standard too.
Options for your 911 should include Night Vision Assist with thermal imaging camera, as well as Adaptive Cruise Control with automatic distance control and stop-and-go function.
The roads around Athens, which served as the base of our operations, proved tricky thanks to extremely dry and dusty conditions. The S would tend to step out much more abruptly when pulling out to overtake or when attacking bends with a bit of intent.
With the car kept in Sport Plus mode, though, the traction control systems and smart braking system ensured that things were kept on the straight and narrow. Turn the drive systems off and you’re in for a bit of oversteer, as the torque from the turbo engine is simply right there to motivate your intentions.
There’s hardly any discernible turbo lag, and if you’re really on the boil you get these wonderful snarls, crackles, pops and fizzes from the turbo engine behind you.
The 4S is made for grip driving. Stick it in Sport Plus, work your way through the gears and bang through the corners. As long as you keep your inputs smooth and you’re not stabbing at the accelerator pedal, the car simply scampers out of corners at a helluva rate. It doesn’t understeer as you would expect of an all-wheel-drive car, and for sporty road driving it inspires confidence to try and go a little faster each time.
I’d have the Carrera S over the 4S, as I thoroughly enjoyed the rear-ward motivation and the dynamic feel of the car as you accelerate out of corners.
We don’t need the ‘4’ in SA anyway, as there’s hardly any snow to deal with, right?
A 4S might be handy, though, if you really enjoy taking on twisty coastal roads or mountain passes every weekend, as it just has this intrinsic ability to make you feel like a really ace driver thanks to its planted and feedback-filled nature.
The 992 911 Cabriolet proved that it’s better than the old one.
Smarter, faster...more drool-worthy in every respect, albeit a tad bit heavier thanks to some additional crash safety bolstering.
Build slot dependent, cars will start to arrive in SA later this year, toward the third quarter, so head on over to your friendly neighbourhood Porsche Centre to put your name down for one if you can.
Porsche Carrera S - R1 924 000 with a five-year Driveplan
Porsche Carrera 4S - R2 014 000 with a five-year Driveplan