2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Redefines Entry Level

The starter softtop version of 992-gen car is still more 911 convertible than most will ever need.

By Scott Oldham, Car and Driver

Malibu, California, is a Porsche town. Always has been. This is where Steve McQueen cruised the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in his black 356 Speedster, Slate Gray 911 Turbo, and the 911S he shipped home from the set of Le Mans. These days, this coastal enclave to the stars is thick with modern 911s, Caymans, Boxsters, and Cayennes, but you're also just as likely to see a Carrera GT and some air-cooled classics—all in the same day. Stop for caffeine at the right spot and you might spot Jerry Seinfeld in his bright orange 1974 Turbo RSR.

Pointing the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolet toward the 'Bu just feels right, like avoiding Vin Diesel's latest feel-good comedy. With little more than a nasally whine from the hydraulics operating the new, lighter softtop, we peel back the 911's roof in 12 seconds and head for the salted air of the Pacific.

Still a Thrill

Over the past year we've driven several variations of the latest 911, the 992, including the Carrera and Carrera S hardtops and more recently the new Turbo S, both in coupe and convertible forms. Calling the Carrera the base car doesn't quite feel right, considering the coupe starts at just under $100K and the cabriolet has a base price of $111,550. Entry level doesn't seem to fit either. With options, our test car cost $127,480.

The standard Carrera model is the only 911 that can't claim at least 400 horsepower. All Carreras get the same twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six as the S models, but it's detuned from 443 horsepower to 379, which is still nine more ponies than you got last year. The boosted flat-six growls properly at idle but becomes disappointingly flatulent between 1500 and 2000 rpm. It quickly rights itself, however, with a pleasingly mechanical midrange and a sweet wail when you wind it out.

Its power delivery follows a similar pattern. There's plenty of bottom-end grunt for lazy cruising. The engine's 331 pound-feet of torque hits at 1950 rpm and holds steady all the way up to 5000 revs. However, the real oomph comes higher up the tachometer. Things really get good above 4000 rpm when the engine begins to charge hard for its 7500-rpm redline and the next ratio of Porsche's brilliant eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Quick and Compliant

The standard Carrera is quick but not explosively so. That is, unless you use its launch-control system that's part of the $2720 Sport Chrono package. Highly effective and simple to activate, just select Sport Plus mode, then stand on both pedals as the system brings the engine's revs up to about 5000 rpm, and then let go of the brake. Bam, the Porsche shoots out of the hole like it's been rear-ended by a Kenworth. Unfortunately, we were unable to test the 911 cabriolet at the track, but Porsche's 4.2-second zero-to-60-mph claim feels conservative. The real number is probably 3.3 to 3.5 seconds, which is impressively quick yet nearly a half-second slower than the Carrera S cabriolet. When we recently tested one, it rocketed to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and blitzed the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds at 125 mph, matching exactly the S coupe's best efforts.

The section of PCH near Malibu looks billiard-table smooth when showcased in car commercials. In reality, it's always under construction; earthquakes and gravity have rippled much of the asphalt. The 911 Carrera cabriolet isn't bothered much by it. There's no cowl shake to speak of, and its ride is remarkably compliant, even in its Sport Plus drive mode. Even without a roof, the 992's chassis is stiff enough to allow you to open and close the doors normally when the car is straddling the steep incline of a tight driveway.

Easy Speed

Despite the 911's ability to generate impressive speed, it's also quite sanitized for your protection. In the tight canyons above Malibu, there isn't as much steering feel as there used to be in older Porsches with hydraulic power steering. While it might not be as alive as those cars, in modern terms there's more steering response than just about every other new car on the road. And although the frisky steering isn't what it once was, the 992 generation also won't exit the road backwards the instant you make a mistake. With its wider track width and staggered Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires—sized 235/40R-19 in front and 295/35R-20 at the rear as standard—you can charge into corners very aggressively without worrying about it sliding around much.

Its cabin is also extremely quiet with the top up, and no other convertible offers better wind protection. With its power-operated mesh wind blocker deployed and its windows up, the Carrera is almost as serene as a Targa model with its roof panel stowed. The 992's optional sport seats are firm but not too hard, holding you in place without huge bolsters that would make the car hard to get in and out.

The base Carrera cabriolet is an impressive overall package and more 911 than most buyers will every need. The same goes for its fixed-roof counterpart. Given the choice, however, we'd opt for the increased performance of the edgier S model. Go light on the options, and its price will be close to our test car's, and you can spec it with a no-cost seven-speed manual, which isn't available on the base model.

Like the 992, Malibu also continues to deliver as promised. On the sunny spring day of our test drive, the special Porsches are out in force. We spotted a 996 GT2, a big bumper 911 SC, several newer GT3 RSs, a GT3 Touring with a RARE991 vanity license plate, and a 918 Spyder driven hard enough that we could hear its V-8 echoing off the hills long after it disappeared up the mountain. Trying to keep up with it seemed like a bad idea. Let's go get a coffee instead and see if Jerry is around.

See more at: Car and Driver


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Automotive Magazine: 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Redefines Entry Level
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet Redefines Entry Level
The starter softtop version of 992-gen car is still more 911 convertible than most will ever need.
Automotive Magazine
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