997 Turbo Cabrio

997 Turbo Cabrio 1
997 Turbo Cabrio 2
997 Turbo Cabrio 3
997 Turbo Cabrio 4
997 Turbo Cabrio 5

In the Turbo Cabriolet’s case, all three parameters have obviously been managed well. Cowl shake is virtually non-existent, yet it seems like the chassis flex lets the wheels follow the road that bit better. More likely, though, that’s down to the suspension setup, which has been retuned to satisfy a “softer” buyer profile. Either way, or both ways, the result is that the Cab just plain works better on the real-world curvy roads that remind enthusiasts why they bought a sports car. The difference is subtle, but not as subtle as you’d think — and it prompts us to wonder if what’s good for a fast time at the Nürburgring is always good for those driving sensations impressive lap times fail to capture.

Where the stiffer, flatter Turbo coupe can require corrective lock in turns even with PSM on, the Cabrio turns in, leans just a bit, sticks, and goes. That smidgen of body roll provides an important shard of feedback, one that helps you comprehend what the chassis is up to as you approach the limits of the rear end’s grip. Confidence builds quickly, scenery starts to stream. Some say the latest 911 Turbo’s proclivity toward oversteer makes it more fun, more exciting. Agreed, but less admirable is how quickly the hefty coupe moves from inherent understeer to power-on oversteer. Other cars, and other 911s, manage the key transitional period better and more predictably. That makes the adventure of approaching the limits more fun because you’re secure in the knowledge of where you are and that the correction won’t have to be a heroic — and thus hairy — affair.

Powering out of turns, the Turbo Cab’s rear end feels planted in a way that lets you know the alignment isn’t just in spec but idealized, an advantage of testing a factory-prepared car that hasn’t been shipped overseas. Coming out of slower turns, all four tires key into the pavement and transfer all 502 lb-ft of torque available from this Sport Chrono-equipped test car. The Turbo Cabriolet may be a heavy car, but it’s one of those rare heavyweights that wears its weight well. Its heft would likely add up to pitch and roll on track, but, on the road, one has to admire what Por-sche has accomplished with this setup.

But there’s a second trait that sets the Turbo Cab apart from its coupe counterpart. The twin-turbo six’s sound is stirring, top up or down. Upon first exposure to the 997 Turbo coupe, a big criticism among testers was that the flat six’s song seemed two steps too removed. The Cabrio, however, lets quite a bit more of the tailpipes’ tale through its fabric firmament. Top up, it’s just enough but never too much. Stow the top — in 20 seconds at up to 31 mph —and it just gets better. It’s neither the scintillating soundtrack of a GT3 nor the beautifully hollow, refined rasp of a Carrera, but it’s just as alluring. Whispers and whistles one moment, a rip-snorting, multi-layered mechanical rhapsody the next. Feed in the throttle while leaving a low-speed turn and the roar is that of a 911 ready pound other supercars into submission with unadulterated torque and silly traction. In other words, it’s fitting.

The VTG turbos build boost quickly, and, when they do, this 997 provides forward progress few open cars can match. Porsche says its 480-bhp Turbo Cabrio is fastest with the optional Tiptronic transmission, claiming a 3.8-second 0-62 mph run — the same figure given by also-conservative Mercedes-Benz for its far more expensive, 626+bhp SLR Convertible. As for Porsche’s own fastest convertible to date, the 612-bhp Carrera GT? Its 0-62 mph run is listed at a slower 3.9 seconds. The Turbo Cab can thank its all-wheel-drive system’s ability to more effectively transfer its power to the ground as well as its big, flat torque curve courtesy of VarioCam Plus variable valve timing/valve lift and Variable Turbine Geometry.

Also from Issue 159

  • V2: Paul-Ernst Strähle’s Famous 356
  • Patrick Long Helps Porsche Win Le Mans
  • How Porsche is Buying Volkswagen
  • Light Flyer: 914-6 GT on Track
  • Emil Pupilidy: Porsche Pioneer
  • Family of 911 Racers
  • Market Update: 911 Turbo and 912
  • Sensible Speed: A Fast 930, Well Bought
  • Eight is Enough: 968 V8
  • Porsche Icon: 968 Turbo RS
  • 356 Restoration Part 19
  • Cheap fix for 911/914 steering
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