2012 Porsche 911 S Cabriolet

There is no car on the planet more associated with the word ‘iconic’ than the 911.  First introduced nearly 50 years ago, its styling has changed at a glacial pace and Porsche loyalists would have it no other way.  But don’t confuse tradition with stagnation.  This 7th generation 991 Carrera S possesses components that are 90% new or significantly redesigned.

But what never changes is its character.  From the timeless design to the distinctive sound, the 911 looks and drives like no other sports car.  And where changes have been made, they are purposeful and tangible…no more evident than in the 911’s enhanced stability and agility.  In past test-drives, I remember a rear-engine rascal that required a lot of seat time to instill confidence.  But this car, with its longer wheelbase, wider front track, new rear axle, Dynamic Chassis Control and Torque Vectoring Plus…is as glued to the road as they come though stability management can be switched off to allow for more dynamic freedom.  After all, this is a machine that is completely comfortable at the track.  But just as impressive is how the 911 S Cabriolet handles its time doing less energetic activities.  I can’t recall driving a convertible with less wind intrusion than this, aided by the clever, electronically actuated wind screen.  From peaceful and serene to blatting exhaust and wicked acceleration, this is a car that mixes its ingredients in a calculated, masterful way like only Porsche can.  There are a lot of 2+2 sports car convertibles on the market, but none of them as unique as this.

Before this Cabrio I spent a week in a Coupe, both equipped with the optional 7-speed PDK automated manual transmission.  And gladly this car arrived with the sport steering wheel with true paddle shifters and not those cumbersome switches.  It’s a perfect pairing to the updated 3.8-liter flat 6, boasting more power- now at an even 400 horses- while improving fuel economy some 14%, rated at a non-sports car-like 19mpg city/27mpg highway.  Another benefit over the standard 7-speed manual is that this car is faster.  With the Sport Chrono Package and in the super aggressive Sport Plus mode with launch control, 0-to-60mph flies by in a mere 4.1-seconds with a soundtrack that is unmistakably Porsche.  And as the first Porsche with electro-mechanical steering, the 911 can be placed with more precision than ever.  The extensive use of weight saving aluminum and larger but lighter wheels means the 6-piston calipers can grab the huge discs even more effectively.  As a driver, there is a keen sense that this car is completely unflappable.

As for optional equipment, as usual there is a never ending list, with a number of mechanical extras like chassis control, sport chrono and power steering plus all contributing to the 911’s driving prowess, but at a substantial price.  This S Cabriolet, with its improved top and a gorgeously detailed interior fitted with high-end extras like the Burmester sound system, stickers for almost $140,000…up from its base price of nearly $109,000.  Sometimes, the best things in life are far from free.

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