Porsche 911 Cabriolet convertible (2004 – 2012) expert review
Read the Porsche 911 Cabriolet convertible (2004 - 2012) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 4.2 Porsche's 911 Cabriolet offers all the performance of its coupe relative, but with greater access to the enjoyable engine note and the wind in your hair.
- Remarkably easy to drive
- Very fast in all guises
- Quick, well-insulated folding roof
- Not as exclusive as some
- Loses some of the coupe’s precision
- Interior lacks sparkle
At a glance
The Cabriolet is instantly recognisable as a Porsche 911. The raised front wings and bonnet dipping between them is as iconic a shape as the 911’s profile. The Cabriolet’s canvas roof creates a small kink above the 911’s rear boot lid. The standard Carrera looks great, but the slightly wider-hipped four-wheel drive models look even more muscular and gain a red strip across the rear between the lights. Turbo versions add more drama with deeper bumpers, additional air vents and a rear spoiler. Open the roof in any version and it instantly looks and feels more exotic than the coupe.
The interior is lacking in the sort of flair that you might expect at this price level. However, all the switches and controls work with real precision and the instruments are very clear. With the Cabriolet’s interior likely to be on show more often, consider dipping into Porsche’s extensive options list to smarten it up. The seats are comfortable and visibility is excellent, though unsurprisingly the rear view is more restricted due to the hood’s smaller rear window.
Unusually the 911 Cabriolet is arguably more practical than its coupe relative. Certainly with the roof open it’s much easier getting in, while dropping luggage into the rear seats is easier, too. It’s tight in the back as ever, but again access to the small rear seats is better with the roof down. With that roof folded there’s no loss of luggage space, as all the 911’s capacity is under the nose. It’s not a gargantuan load area – and you’ll need soft luggage – but it’s possible to squeeze a surprising amount into a 911 Cabriolet.
Ride and handling
Whether driving the basic Carrera with its rear-wheel drive, the Carrera 4 with four -wheel drive or the greater output of the S, GTS, Turbo and Turbo S models, the 911 handles with precision. There’s fantastic feel through the steering and the 911 rides well in any guise. The loss of the stiffening roof does slightly soften the 911 Cabriolet’s focus, but unless you’re a keen track driver you’re unlikely to notice – or indeed care. Even the Turbo, with its hugely wide tyres, manages to ride well, though all suffer from some tyre noise on the move.
Power for the naturally aspirated cars ranges from 345bhp to 408bhp and both the Turbo and Turbo S add a significant amount to that. So no 911 Cabriolet is slow. The standard Carrera takes 5.1 seconds to reach 62mph – less if you opt for the PDK paddle-shift – while the Turbo S Cabriolet blasts there in an incredible 3.4 seconds. That Turbo S will accelerate up to 100mph in 7.9 seconds and won’t stop charging until 196mph. In all versions, the intensity is raised thanks to the wind rushing by and the noise of the flat-six engines working hard.
The 911 Cabriolet is arguably inexpensive relative to the performance on offer, but it’s still a premium car with associated running costs. Brakes, tyres and other consumables aren’t cheap at servicing time, but no 911 will cost you as much to run as rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini. Fuel economy is reasonable, with the Carrera Cabriolet managing an average figure of 28.5mpg. Faster versions use more fuel. Likewise insurance and running costs increase with more powerful models but residual values remain high, meaning a 911 Cabriolet isn’t as expensive an ownership proposition as some expect.
Porsche regularly scores highly in customer satisfaction surveys and given the performance on offer, reliability is quite incredible. Cabriolets are more likely to be used as occasional cars, so any problems that arise may be down to lack of use. Porsches are traditionally very robust and with the current 911 Cabriolet well into its model cycle there are no reports of any niggling faults.
The 911 features all the electronic stability, traction and ABS functions expected in a car offering this level of performance. Although it’s not been independently crash tested the Cabriolet is certain to protect you well in an accident. Front, side and even window airbags (very unusual in a drop-top) all feature, along with load-limiting pretensioner seatbelts. Rollover protection is provided by a strengthened windscreen surround and pop-up bars behind the rear seats. Even the super-limited edition Speedster comes with these despite having no rear seats and a hard cover where they should be.
Porsches come reasonably rather than generously equipped, leaving the customer to choose a lot of the equipment from an extensive suite of options. The GTS, Turbo and Turbo S models naturally feature more standard equipment, but it’s still possible to blow a sizeable additional amount on extras for any 911 Cabriolet. All come with a powered hood, climate control and a touch-screen entertainment system. Choose the PDK automatic gearbox and the Sports steering wheel is needed for paddle shifters instead of Porsche’s counter-intuitive push button shifting system.
Like the Coupe the 911 Cabriolet has the rare ability to thrill and captivate on the road, yet offer usability that’s unrivalled at this level of performance. For many customers being able to drop the roof only adds to that enormous appeal – while others will prefer the slightly more focused drive of the coupe. Whatever the choice in the Cabriolet range it’s unlikely there will be disappointment, whether its during a summer blast with the roof down or tackling slow traffic on a miserable winter’s night with the roof up.