Porsche 911

To most people a Porsche is the peak of attainment, and being seen in a convertible Porsche the acme of delight. As a driver’s car it rates highly, too. To all the well-known 911 virtues of 150 mph performance, quality, reliability and efficiency are added the refreshing sensations of open-air motoring, at a price of £41,710.

Although the Cabriolet was the last 911 variant to arrive, nothing changes in the car’s character: the floor-hinged pedals still control a 231 bhp flat-six motor unsurpassed for flexibility of output, the unique dashboard retains its haphazard control layout, and the tall screen still towers over the eccentric steering wheel. Indeed, with hood erected one might be forgiven for forgetting that this is not the Carrera coupe. Within a roofline which follows the classic profile the traditional sounds can be heard: the whirring transmission and the flat, almost agricultural churning of the engine. So taut is the roof that there is no swishing or flapping, yet it takes only the push of a button (with the handbrake on) for the electro-hydraulic mechanism to whirr into action and fold it away behind the seats. It does not disappear completely as on the new Mercedes SL, but there is a padded cover to tidy its appearance.

With the optional remote-control alarm and locking system (£515), there is no need to close up the car before leaving it — merely jump out and walk away after squeezing the remote transmitter, and the car looks after itself, to the frequent amazement of passers-by. The roof flips shut, locking automatically, the windows close, the doors lock and the alarm sets itself, complete with flashing LEDs in each door. However, if you are a late-home type, the neighbours may get rather fed-up with the loud bleep which announces the successful completion of these actions.

When travelling al fresco, the tall screen, high-back seats and round tail all help to flow the air over the cockpit, giving the occupants a relatively unruffled time, though the hard seats and unforgiving ride may not please everyone. Nor may the driving characteristics; the 911 remains the great idiosynchrat, with tremendous potential for those prepared to put some effort into it. Strong understeer is the penalty for timidity, with staggering traction and grip the reward for commitment. And use discretion when braking on low-grip surfaces, for the lightly-laden front wheels are easy to lock.

Unlike some opened-up coupes there is little sign of any body flexing, but it can be hard to see over the shoulder at junctions. Otherwise the 911 continues to ignore its critics and delight its fans. GC