Fast, comfortable, and charismatic too, but still not a Porsche for the hardcore performance nut.

On October 22, Porsche’s latest generation of ‘997’ 911s will be expanded by the addition of two four-wheel driven convertibles – the 911 Carrera 4 and 4S Cabriolets – with up to 355bhp, better traction and better stability than the rear-wheel driven versions.Porsche claims identical performance figures for the more powerful Carrera 4S Cabriolet as its coupé equivalent; both four-wheel drive 355bhp 911s will hit 62mph in 4.8sec and go on to 179mph, it says. In a market where soft-top sports cars are so frequently compromised in the performance stakes, that’s a significant claim. So is it borne out on the road?It certainly feels like it. Despite the additional 140kgs of body reinforcement, four-wheel drive system and folding cloth roof, the lesser 325bhp Carrera 4 wants for no power, and its 355bhp stablemate serves up genuinely urgent and flexible performance. Porsche’s design of the cabrio has been so thorough that they share the same aerodynamic efficiency rating as the coupe, so even on the autobahn, these 911 roadsters are an even match for their roofed equivalents.You have to be determined to expose any flaws over an undulating country route, but with longer springs and that extra weight there is a small loss in outright ability over a coupé. Hit a series of bumps during high speed cornering and the nose bobs around more, requiring extra correction than in a £58k, rear-driven standard Carrera coupe, despite the Carrera 4’s wider rear tyres and wider tracks. The dynamic gap is less pronounced if you opt for Porsche’s Active Stability Management system – standard on the S model - which lowers the ride height by 10mm and keeps tauter control over the 911’s slightly increased waywardness.Albeit the worse-handling ‘997’ to date, it is only when judged by Porsche’s own high standards that the C4 Cabrio falls mildly short. Rest assured that, if you’ve got to have a convertible, neither a Mercedes SL500 nor a Maserati Spyder is as dynamically adept or as enjoyable to drive.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Add a comment…