Test Drive: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet car test drives porsche luxury cars
Test Drive: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet car test drives porsche luxury cars
2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Going topless in the new 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet adds an extra dimension of sensory pleasure to the seat-of-the-pants thrill of driving the recently redesigned seventh-generation 911. A button on the centre console lowers the top – now made of lightweight magnesium panels covered in a durable noise-deadening fabric and interior liner – in about 13 seconds, and it can be lowered and raised at speeds up to 50 km/h. It fits snugly and unobtrusively under a solid tonneau behind the rear seats unlike earlier 911 Cabriolets where it stood up rather ungraciously under a fabric cover.

With the top down, the distinctive raspy, burbling sound of Porsche’s flat-six engine comes alive just behind your ears. If your 911 C4S and its 400-hp 3.8L is equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package as our test car was, the engine sounds are magnified even further by a Sound Symposer that channels the engine’s combustion chorus to a baffle behind the rear seats. As gimmicky as that sounds, it’s designed to enhance the experience of the improved performance provided by the driver-selectable Sport and Sport Plus performance driving modes, which modify throttle, transmission, and suspension settings.

Lowering the top also opens up your world to the sound and feel of the rushing wind, which surprisingly is not that noisy or hair ruffling. Thanks to the 911’s low seating position, aerodynamic design and an automatically deploying wind deflector behind the rear seats, wind buffeting in the front seats is limited to some minor hair tussling behind your ears. All bets are off for the rear seats, though.

With the top down, I expected increased engine and wind noise, but I was surprised at the amount of road noise coming from the standard Pirelli PZero performance tires. Perhaps that’s not so surprising when you consider how much rubber is on the road: up front are 245/35ZR20 PZeros mounted on 8.5-inch-wide alloy wheels; at the rear are super wide 305/30ZR20-inch PZeros on 11-inch-wide alloys. That’s a big footprint.

Test Drive: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet car test drives porsche luxury cars
Test Drive: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet car test drives porsche luxury cars
2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

Driving with the 911 Cab’s top up significantly reduces engine, tire and outside noises inside the cabin, thanks to the well-built top’s magnesium panels and integral insulation. This makes long drives much more comfortable. The top looks good too: in side view, the convertible top curves in an unbroken curve with the rear deck so that the Cabriolet looks almost like a coupe. The big disadvantage of the convertible top is the driver’s restricted view over the right shoulder when changing lanes. While the coupe has a window there, the cabriolet has a fabric panel. However, the view through the fairly wide rear glass window is good even though the rear deck is fairly high.

It’s tempting to resort to superlatives to describe the 911 4S’s acceleration and handling, but let me just say that you need to hold on really tight to the steering wheel and use the dead pedal for all it’s worth to press you back into the seat if you want to duplicate the Carrera 4S Cabriolet’s official 0 to 100 km/h time of 4.3 seconds (equipped with the optional PDK automatic transmission; 4.1 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono package). It goes by in a time-bending, g-force-laden, engine-barking, pedestrian-startling blur that’s over before you can say Doppelkupplungsgetriebe. The 911 4S Cab’s handling limits far exceed that of the average driver and it’s likely you’ll wet your pants before reaching the 911’s maximum entry velocity into a tight corner.

Still, it’s a much less daunting experience than in many other sports cars because the 911 Carrera 4S will compensate for just about every driving error, road surface, or act of God that may spoil the experience [flooding as seen in Calgary and Toronto recently may prove to be exceptions – Ed.]. Porsche Traction Management distributes power front and rear automatically in only 100 milliseconds as needed, and for 2013, the system was modified slightly to direct most of the torque to the rear wheels on dry roads in order to improve fuel economy. Porsche Torque Vectoring features an electronically controlled differential lock which brakes the inside wheel through turns and improves acceleration when emerging from a turn. Porsche Active Suspension Management and Stability Management automatically control understeer and oversteer and improve high-speed stability while the optional Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control nearly eliminates body roll using a variable stabilizer system.

They should just lump them all together and call it the Guardian Angel Systems Package…

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