Does cutting the roof off the Porsche 911 improve it? For such a perfectly formed sports car it’s hard to see why you would bother. The cabriolet version of the icon speedster loses something by trying to have it all.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this car. It’s just that I worship the 911. I have always loved the 911, even as a child and it remains for me one of a few examples of design perfection. It’s like a Great White shark – evolved to perfection, over millions of years. It’s not to everyone’s taste but there’s no denying there's an intense beauty in its streamlined body.
So you wouldn’t take a Great White shark and try to improve its design (unless you were attaching lasers) so why lop the top off the 911 masterpiece? The Porsche 911 is built for an unashamed flat-out speed with exquisite handling, the rear engine configuration makes a sports car for the purists. That’s why it simply makes no sense whatsoever to remove the roof and unbalance the perfect symmetry.
For sure, Porsche have applied their usual obsessive engineering brilliance to the task of adequate compensation and the body of the 911 convertible is 5 cm longer than the body of the one it replaces. The electronically powered fabric roof stows niftily in the rear with a touch of a button and the interior is furnished with more gadgets than you will ever need, heated and cooled leather seats, heated steering wheel for winter rides and an electronically controlled wind deflector.
In general it drives very well, and it retains the deep-throated roar you’ve come to expect from either engine specification; a direct injection petrol flat-six in 3.4-litre 345bhp Carrera or 3.8-litre 395bhp Carrera S specification. Stability is only an issue when leaning into corners you have no right to be taking at such speeds anyway. A top speed of 285 kph is more than you will ever need on the road, unless you drive like an Italian, or you like to go to private racetracks at weekends.
This is the antithesis of a family car, so you wonder why they left the rear seats in at all. The non-convertible version is just about sittable in, but in this version with the soft top up I fail to see how anyone, even a child might be able slouch down far enough to be in any way comfortable. So maybe the rear seats aren’t for passengers, definitely not for children. Perhaps a small pure-breed dog, a pug or a Highland terrier, but more likely, just an easy place to store your champagne-filled picnic basket as you power along with free abandon on impossibly beautiful Alpine passes.
The Porsche 911 Cabriolet is a fine car and one with all the raw qualities that Porsche enthusiasts will look for, but part of me just feels that in wanting to ‘have to all’, you lose what the 911 is all about. Maybe I’m just not the biggest fan of the convertible sports car, if you’re driving a car for speed, to me it just makes sense to have a roof on it. After all, at 190 kph you’re going to miss most of the scenery anyway, but then again with the Porsche 911 the best scenery you could possibly view is probably sitting in the car beside you. And I don’t mean the pug.
by Hugo Mc Cafferty