2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review
Porsche recently completely reworked its venerable 911. On the heels of that evolutionary new model the company has introduced a revised convertible version of the car as well. Anyone familiar with Porsche’s lineup knows the 911 is one of the most versatile models they build. It can be configured as an elegant grand tourer, an out and out hard-core road racer, a gracefully sophisticated sports car, and a number of permutations in between.
Porsche’s oldest continually built car line is also one of the world’s most respected. The product of some 50 years of continuous development and evolution, the Porsche 911 is quite possibly one of the best thought-out cars on the road today.
And now, there is a new convertible version of that car.
The best part of my job is test driving such sublimely enticing cars as the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. The worst part of my job is giving said sublimely enticing cars back at the end of the test drive. And make no mistake; I was sorely tempted to make Porsche’s people come looking for me this time.
All you have to do is run that 400-horsepower, 3.8-liter flat six to redline one time…
Actually, no, wait…
I’m getting ahead of myself here.
The 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet lineup consists of four models, Carrera Cabriolet, Carrera S Cabriolet (the subject of this review), Carrera 4 Cabriolet, and Carrera 4S Cabriolet.
Models with “4” in the designation are all-wheel drive, while the difference between the standard designation and the “S” designation (among others) include a 350 horsepower, 3.4-liter engine, versus a 400 horsepower, 3.8-liter engine for S models. Along with the more powerful engine comes a more capable braking system. Four-piston front and rear calipers are fitted to all four of the Carrera model’s 12.9-inch rotors, while Carrera S models get six-piston calipers for the 13.4 inch front rotors and four-piston calipers for their 12.9-inch rears.
Carrera models wear 19-inch tires and wheels, while Carrera S kitted cars get 20-inch tires and wheels all around. Carrera S models also ride 10mm lower to the ground because of suspension differences.
Base price for the Carrera Cabriolet is $97,150, while the Carrera S Cabriolet starts at $111,750. The Carrera 4 Cabriolet starts at $103,340, while the Carrera 4S Cabriolet starts at $118,480. All prices quoted here include the $950 destination charge Porsche applies to its sports cars.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Design
Earlier, I intimated my infatuation with Porsche’s flagship convertible sports car started with running its 400 horsepower 3.8-liter flat six to redline. However, it really starts when you see it parked, knowing it’s yours to do with whatever you will.
While the implied promise of the Porsche in motion is so palatable, ironically, the fluid shapeliness of the convertible 911 makes you want to just sit and stare at it there for a time. The design is one of the few on the road that contains not one single straight line. Instead, it’s all gracefully flowing curves. Further, the convertible top blends so elegantly, the 2013 Carrera S Cabriolet looks more like a coupe with a contrasting roof than a convertible.
This is for good reason; the roof actually has more in common with a folding hardtop than it does a traditional convertible. Look carefully at the photos. You’ll note the absence of the typical convertible roof’s cross members showing through the cloth. Instead of a set of “ribs”, Porsche employs very closely coupled large, flat magnesium panels underneath the cloth to comprise the roof’s structural support.
Porsche’s engineers went this route to gain the benefits of a folding metal roof, while preserving the traditional look of a convertible and avoiding the cut lines a retractable hard top would have entailed. With this roof, they created a quieter, more rigid convertible top — one also less vulnerable to thieves with knives. Plus, it can be raised and lowered while the car is in motion, even at speeds approaching 30 miles per hour. The Cabriolet also has an integrated wind deflector, deployable at the touch of a button — no more schlepping it out of the cargo compartment at the front of the car and wrestling it into place.
As graceful as its appearance is, the attitude of the Porsche is mesmerizing too. Solidly planted on 20-inch wheels and low profile tires, the new convertible 911 looks firmly attached to the planet. The stance is one of considerable substance; wholly belying the fact the Carrera S Cabriolet weighs only 3,230 pounds.
Just looking at this 911, you’ll know immediately where all your money went.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
Part and parcel of the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet’s potential as a luxurious grand tourer is the supreme comfort and supportiveness of its seats. This is a car you can literally drive for hours without experiencing any fatigue from a lack of support by the seats.
An optional sport seat package delivers even more comfort with 14 different adjustments. If that’s insufficient, Porsche also offers an 18-way seat. All are offered with heating and ventilation as well.
Additionally, head and legroom are generously abundant. Tall drivers, short drivers and everyone in between can readily find comfort in this car. The steering wheel’s electric adjustments for reach and rake aid significantly in this endeavor.
With the engine in the rear, the cargo compartment for Porsche’s 911 models resides in the front. There’s plenty of room there for soft luggage for two for a weekend getaway. Additionally, the rear jump seats fold to create a reasonably sized cargo back shelf there as well. Pockets in the door panels and the center console provide storage for smaller items one might need while underway.
A really nice interior feature is the integrated wind blocker, which can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button. No more wrestling with the removable mesh screen.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Every Porsche sports car, going all the back to the 356 models of the 1950s, has featured a large center mounted tachometer flanked on both sides by two supplemental gauge housings, for a total of five main gauge housings. There’s a 4.8-inch TFT monitor in the far right one, which provides a long list of configurable display options including vehicle status, audio, telephone, navigation, map display, trip computer, and tire pressure readouts.
The center console is descended from the one first seen in the Carrera GT supercar Porsche offered from 2004 to 2007. Incorporating the switch positioning strategy introduced with the Panamera in 2009, the layout nicely updates the 911’s interior treatment.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings
One of the most significant safety features of any Porsche is the remarkable agility with which the automobiles are blessed, making them highly maneuverable and readily capable of avoiding accidents. Should that fail, an entire raft of safety features, ranging from four-wheel ABS to and through emergency braking preparation, a full complement of airbags, and integrated roll bars are on board to protect the Porsche’s occupants.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
I mentioned before, the 3.8-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine fitted to the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet makes 400 horsepower. The engine does so at 7,400 rpm. Its 325 ft-lbs. of torque are generated at 5600 rpm. My test car was fitted with the seven-speed manual transmission.
Yes — seven-speed manual.
The current Porsche 911 is the first production car to offer a seven-speed manual transmission.
A seven-speed dual-clutch sequential manual gearbox is available as an option.
The engine’s auto start/stop function helps the 911 achieve fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway, and 22 combined — with either transmission. Over the course of my testing, I averaged 23 miles per gallon in my mix of highway, city, and spirited back road driving.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
The gearheads reading this probably did the math already, and yes, 400 horsepower with only 3,200 pounds of weight to move translates into some significantly intoxicating performance potential. The 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet is capable of accelerating to 60 miles per hour from rest in 4.5 seconds with the seven-speed manual transmission my test car had. Top speed is 188 miles per hour with the seven-speed manual, 187 with the dual-clutch sequential manual transmission.
BTW, that solid look I referred to earlier is wholly reflected by the Porsche when it is in motion—even when the Cabriolet is approaching the limits of its cornering ability, braking potential, or accelerative promise. In other words, the faster the Carrera S Cabriolet moves, the more solidly planted to the road it feels.
The first Porsche model to incorporate electro-mechanical steering, the new 911 nevertheless returns the lively steering feel for which the cars have always been so deservedly renowned. It may sound clichéd, but the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet really does feel like an extension of your body when you drive it. All of the controls respond precisely according to your inputs. Your thoughts are instantly transformed into action, seemingly with no mechanical filter in between. Everything about driving the car is effortless. The Porsche glides over the road so smoothly, you feel almost as if you’re controlling the car telepathically.
Then, there’s the sound the engine makes while running hard. It’s a creamily congruent mechanical cacophony of perfectly blended resonances, orchestrated precisely to set your blood on fire. With the top down and the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet running wide open, every nerve ending in your body attunes to the experience. The stimulation is fully equivalent to the most pleasurable act you can imagine — whatever that might be for you.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
If automotive perfection can be said to exist, surely it must be in reference to this latest convertible iteration of Porsche’s iconic sports car. Piloting a Porsche 911 is a uniquely distinctive experience. Absolutely no other car feels like a 911 does when it is underway. The smoothness, sophistication, and just plain grace with which the cars go down the road is something that has to be personally experienced to be fully understood.
The new design for the convertible roof introduces a quietness and harmony of design previously missing form the car. With the top deployed, you’re hard pressed to tell you’re even driving a convertible. The roof is so tightly sealed and isolates outside noise so well, it really does feel like you’re driving a 911 coupe rather than a cabriolet. This is a car you can comfortably employ as a daily driver and be quite competitive on the weekends in friendly track competition with it.
If you can afford one, it’s a purchase you’ll never regret. And therein lies the rub, at $111,750 — before you add any options — this is one seriously pricey automobile. Yes, its craftsmanship, capabilities, and technical specifications are more than commensurate with the price.
It’s very expensive.
A product of some 49 years of evolution, the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet is everything the company’s people have ever learned about building open sports cars.
And trust me, they know one hell of a whole lot.
They also know where to come looking for me when I have one of their cars.
Unfortunately.2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Porsche’s heritage of automotive excellence is plainly evident
• New roof is quieter and more resistant to vandals and thieves
• Driving excitement is absolutely guaranteed
• New engine is more powerful and more fuel-efficient
• Seven-speed manual transmission — an industry first