2013 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet: Driving the 911 for the First and Last Time
February 12, 2014
I had driven our 2013 Porsche 911 Cabriolet once before. Well, "driven" isn't the most accurate description of the experience. More like, "moved the car 10 feet to another parking spot." I don't think my feet even touched the accelerator. But, with the car's retirement date fast approaching, I knew I wouldn't get another shot. This is the story of how I got lost on the way to the gas station and ambled up and down Pacific Coast Highway one lazy morning in January.
It started, as my travels with the Edmunds cars often do, with a certain amount of dignified pleading and begging to take the 911 out for one last jaunt before it departs forever. On its last day, the car arrived a bit dirty from a once-in-six-months California rain shower, with the gas needle hovering in the danger zone. Remedying these complications almost seemed too much for any one person to overcome, but I bravely volunteered to give it a shot. I did some research into local fueling stations and selected one several miles away on PCH, but only because it had a good Yelp review.
The 911 Cab has a hilariously small rear window, so the soft top had to go down. Seat warmers and the heater would have to battle the frigid 63-degree air at the coast. With the air deflector deployed and shifter set in manual mode, it was time to go.
There are many things about the 911 that impressed me almost immediately. The electrically assisted steering is pleasantly heavy. If I wanted something light and effort-free, I'd go back to our Hyundai Santa Fe. Although the suspension is appropriate for a sports car, the varying degrees of road quality never upset the Porsche to the point where I felt uncomfortable sitting in it. There's also no cowl shake to speak of, but that's to be expected of a car in this price range. The sport buckets hug you and don't let go, like that person you knew in high school who wanted to be more than "just friends."
Although I prefer rowing through the transmission gears myself in a car like this, Porsche's PDK dual-clutch transmission is a perfectly acceptable alternative. In normal and Sport modes, gear changes at low rpm are barely perceptible. Under heavy acceleration, or in Sport Plus mode, gear changes are more dynamic but still completely painless. On recommendation from Consumer Advice Editor Ron Montoya, I left the gearbox in manual and the comfort settings pinned in Sport.
The thrust of the 3.4-liter flat-6 is intoxicating, as is the accompanying wail from the pair of oval exhaust pipes in the rear. The car sounds especially good in the tunnel that marks the beginning of the 10 freeway in Santa Monica. Or just north on Highway 1, with the engine's snarls rebounding off the sheer rock walls opposite the Pacific Ocean.
The accelerator pulls in your right foot as if it were caught in a tractor beam. There's just enough resistance to it, like it's asking you whether you are absolutely sure you want to press it closer to the floor. "Of course I do. Why is my pedal second-guessing my decisions?" you will ask yourself insanely. The manual shifter, likewise, has considerable heft. Between the steering, accelerator, and shifter, everything that makes this car move forces you to act with purpose. No car I've ever driven demands more attention from the driver, and it's an absolutely beautiful thing to partake in.
Two hours passed like an instant, and the Porsche 911 was all fueled up and sparkling clean. I glumly relinquished the keys upon my return, but I am thrilled I was able to take it for a spin before it abandons us. I am about to leave for the night in my own car, but I feel compelled to grab the Porsche keys and flee into the Mexican desert for the rest of my days.
I could learn Spanish. I already know adios.
Cameron Rogers, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 22,590