2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S Convertible (3.8L 6-cyl. w/opt. 7-speed Automated Manual)
Driven On 5/23/2012
Considered by many enthusiasts to be the less-capable version of the 911, the soft-top Carrera S Cabriolet, especially with the PDK transmission, proves its pedigree with true sports-car prowess. In other words, Porschephiles need not worry. This 991-generation Cabrio is far better than its predecessor.
PerformanceThe 911 Carrera S combines supercar acceleration with world-class handling and brakes, just like nearly every 911 preceding it. The optional 7-speed PDK dual-clutch paddle-shift gearbox provides quick, driver-error-free shifts.
The Cabriolet has the same 400-hp 3.8-liter flat-6 engine as the coupe, but weighs 150 pounds more. As such, its 0-60-mph time of 4.2 seconds is a fraction slower. Top speed is 187 mph.
Tremendously powerful and fade-free brakes also have become a trademark of the Porsche 911. This one stopped from 60 mph in just 103 feet. Impressive and utterly reassuring.
Those critical of the new electric-assist system are correct in that it doesn't offer the same granular feel as before, yet it remains ultra precise.
There's no denying the pure capability of the 911. Our track tests validate its rightful place at the top of its class, pulling more than 1g around the skidpad.
Despite its world-class capabilities, the 911 remains a very comfortable daily driver with its friction-free steering and intuitive throttle and brake calibrations.
ComfortWell-contoured seats, adaptive suspension and a sleek shape combine to give the Porsche 911 uncommon comfort as sports cars go.
There are several seat choices of increasing sportiness, but all are exceptionally comfortable and supportive with great side bolsters for hard cornering. The trademark 911 driving position is spot on.
The Carrera S's 2-mode driver-selectable damper system provides a greater variance in ride comfort, but it's still almost always agreeable compared to other sports cars.
The 911 Cabriolet is not quiet, yet wind noise is suitably hushed thanks to the push-button, pop-up wind baffle. Engine noise and road hum become tiresome.
InteriorDespite larger exterior dimensions, the cockpit remains an intimate space, perhaps because the larger center stack and waterfall between the seats take up any extra room. Yet tall drivers fit well.
The button-cluttered center console can overwhelm (even once you've acclimated), but pressing a button is faster than working through menus. Touchscreen isn't the most user friendly.
With the exception of the rear jump-seats, getting in and out of the 911 is typical of any sports car with a low seat height.
The traditional open feel of the 911 is gone because of the rising center console, but the driver enjoys a huge degree of seat adjustment. One of the most spacious high-end sports cars.
Tidy dimensions, sloping hood and a generously-sized rear window help visibility, though the rear-quarter view with the roof raised is predictably compromised.
Luggage space up front is deep but small (4.8 cu-ft). Folding the rear jump seats will give enough room for some soft luggage, but that's about it. Still, better than many super cars.
Raising/lowering the automatic soft top takes less than 15 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. Push-button pop-up wind blocker is a brilliant feature that competitors can't match.
ValueAt about $11,000 more than a 911 Carrera S hardtop, the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet offers near-identical performance but with the ability to soak in the sun.
Build Quality (vs. $)
In the world of expensive sports cars, the Porsche 911's build quality is one of its standout features. It's better than expected, even at this lofty $110,000-plus price.
Porsche is notorious for its very long list of options, which can make the total cost of the car rise quickly. The upside is flexibility in personalization.
Considering that the S Cabriolet is comfortable in the company of sports cars costing twice as much, the $110,000-$115,000 starting point is a fair price, as odd as that sounds.
The Carrera S Cabriolet with the PDK transmission gets an EPA-rated 22 mpg Combined (19 City/27 Highway). We averaged 21 mpg in one year of ownership, and routinely got 30 mpg on the highway.
Both the basic warranty and drivetrain coverage last for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Roadside assistance for 4 years/50,000 miles, but no free maintenance period.
Fun To DriveThe 911 may be a tad conservative visually compared to flashier rivals, but there's a lot to be said for a powerful engine, ultra-quick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox, precise steering, unflappable brakes and 50-plus years of engineering development.
Even as a convertible, the 911 is an exceptionally rewarding machine in nearly every objective and subjective way. Plus, as a convertible, you get the joys of open-air motoring.
The 911 doesn't bark like a Jag F-Type or catch every passing eyeball like an Audi R8, but what it lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for with endless panache and driver involvement.