Quick Spin: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet
James Tate drives the new drop-top and revels in its Turbolike power.
It may be past prime convertible season, but that didn't stop James Tate from tearing the roof off and getting cozy with the latest 911 Cabriolet. Here's his report.
The real joy of a new generation of 911s isn’t merely the revelation of the new body or the breathless wait to see what tweaks have been made. The real fun starts when the model variants start showing up and Porschephiles descend into madness, arguing the merits of each versus the other. The new generation is already a hit, with welcome styling changes, a refined cockpit, a controversial move to electric steering and a “No way!” moment the first time you see the shifter knob for the 7-speed transmission.
Now the rollout of the new Carrera S Cabriolet is upon us, and it is better than ever. The car is more balanced, more livable and more impressive than the outgoing model, as it should be. It’s also more expensive, deepening the value-for-money debate that inevitably springs up when Porsche fans take on Ferrari and Lamborghini loyalists.
That just happened: The 2013 Carrera S Cabriolet is an intense driver’s car, but very manageable. It accelerates with the hard thrust of an older 911 Turbo, yet this latest cabriolet can deliver 27 mpg highway. The real story is how it handles. This is a paradigm shift from what we have come to expect from a 911, especially a convertible. While the engine is explosive all the way to redline and the clutch is still a bit heavy (we’re not complaining — we love it as it is), it doesn’t to want to kill you midturn, not even a little bit. The problems of traditional rear-engine 911s finally, truly, don’t exist. It’s a remarkable achievement that takes some time to process.
Pretty things: The latest generation is a beautiful take on the iconic 911 body, and the cabriolet is no exception. Where the previous model had a little hunchback going on -- it was gorgeous, but it did, let’s just be honest -- the new car has a smooth, natural flow in its lines that is both elegant and subtly aggressive. It’s a tricky thing to play with a legacy design like the 911's, but this is a worthy next step. One note, however: We’ve seen just about enough Porsches painted in GT Silver Metallic. Enough, dealers. We must say, though, the blue cabriolet top is quite the choice. We’re not so sure about the blue interior.
Bang for your buck: Yes, we’re going there. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the 2013 911 Carrera S Cabriolet is $108,000. The car we tested just poked over the $140,000 mark. Granted, that is a lot of money. When you consider the entry fee for a new Ferrari or Lamborghini and realize the 911 can do just about anything those other cars can do, it’s a comparative deal.
Bang! There go my bucks: Realistically speaking, potential buyers aren’t inclined to fret at a nearly $150,000 price tag. Sales shouldn’t suffer, but Porsche is starting a dangerous dance as costs of its newer models creep higher and higher. Someday, a 911 may cost a little too close to that of its competition.
Electric steering? Really? We’re of two minds about the new electronic steering Porsche has worked into the new 911 models. There is a noticeable loss of feel compared with the previous car, without a doubt. However, the greater assist combined with the remarkably balanced feel of the new car make it an infinitely more approachable 911. Purists will scream about “dumbing down,” but the new 911 is no less impressive a car for its steering, and a more tolerable drive means more sales. Bottom line: It’s not going anywhere. Accept this.
Unnecessary options: As usual, the option list on the Carrera S Cabriolet is long and pricey. One you can definitely skip is Power Steering Plus, which lightens steering feel at lower speeds. With the electric steering in place, a slightly heavier feel at lower speeds is welcome. Also, pass on the multifunction steering wheel; although it is well-designed, the more Spartan classic wheel just feels better.
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as senior editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.
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