ATTICA, Greece—Here in the cradle of Western civilization, things are grim. Last year the country emerged from a bailout by other European countries that totaled more than $350 billion, and while comparatively speaking things are looking up, the unemployment rate in this part Greece is still over 20 percent. Aside from the presence of graffiti everywhere, there isn’t much evidence of young people. A double tennis court over here has been abandoned, as has a playground over there, with a pair of basketball goals that nobody appears to have used in a year.
Buildings, including a beautiful little church, are empty and unkempt. Every construction worker in the state appears to have gone on strike at exactly the same moment, leaving a plethora of unfinished houses, stores, and apartments. Long-legged, suicidal dogs wander the streets.
Everything, even the gorgeous Aegean Sea, seems to have a slightly gray cast. Oh, there are bright spots, alright, and our new $170,810 Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet was one of the brightest, getting looks of mild contempt and only an occasional thumbs-up from drivers, who seem saddled with the most boring collection of cars in one place since there was an East Germany. Truckers bear down on us, swing wide on turns. We feel stinkin’ rich, and not always in a good way, as we drive along in our gleaming Carrara White Metallic Cabriolet with a black top, which we chose instead o the colors featured in the photos here because we though we’d be less conspicuous. We were not.
Greece will bounce back—there’s a lot of pluck in those bloodlines—and we have a car to tell you about. Which we kind of already had in our report on the 2020 Porsche 911, the eighth generation of an icon. Even though it sort of looks like generation 7.5, it’s virtually all new, and there’s plenty to talk about with the Cabriolet.
The top, for instance. It’s a multilayer cloth piece whose magnesium structure folds in three sections to store completely under the rear deck; the little ballet takes but 12 seconds. Then you can call up a rear windscreen that eliminates wind buffeting and makes normal conversation possible, even at speed. Top up, the insulation attached to those panels muffles road noise, including, unfortunately, the exhaust note from the 3.0-liter, 446-horse flat-six.
The engine is attached to an eager new eight-speed PDK transmission, with a seven-speed manual due shortly after the Cabriolet’s introduction in late summer or early fall. Headroom is plenty up front even for those over six feet. In the back, the tiny twin rear seats are best left to grocery sacks, helpful since there’s only 4.5 cubic feet of cargo room up front.
On the road, the improved rigidity is evident, and proven by the fact that the Cabriolet now is offered with the Sport Suspension package previously limited to the coupe. For $5,450, the package gets you the Sport Exhaust, the Sport Chrono package, black tailpipes, and that PASM Sport Suspension, which stiffens everything up and drops the overall height by 0.4 inch. The differences between the chassis’s Normal, Sport, and Sport+ settings is perceptible, although the exact measure of the dynamic spread would be better taken on a track. We kept the chassis and suspension set to Normal for the bulk of our drive, which helped dampen the multiple bumps and potholes—it appeared the road-maintenance crews were at reduced capacity, too.
All that aside, we could find very little wrong with the Cabriolet, except for the problem we’ve had for years with the 911: We can’t afford one. Our test car went from $126,100 to the aforementioned $170,810 with a liberal addition of options that ranged from Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control ($3,170) to Rear Axle Steering ($2,090) to the killer Burmester stereo. The latter is a $5,560 option, compared to the entirely adequate $1,600 Bose system that’s also offered. If you want all-wheel drive, base price jumps to $133,400. We sampled the all-wheel-drive 4S model, and it offers a bit of increased stability; if you live in a climate where the roads are often slick, it’s probably a good investment.
But 911s have never been cheap, and when you remove the top the price goes up even more. Despite this, nearly a third of the 911 customers prefer to go topless. If we’re not on a track? Us, too. Nicely done, Porsche.
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S and 4S Cabriolet Specifications
|PRICE||S, $126,100; 4S, $133,400|
|ENGINE||3.0L DOHC 24-valve twin-turbocharged flat-6; 443 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 390 lb-ft @ 2,300 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2+2-passenger, rear-engine RWD or AWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||20/26 mpg (city/hwy, est)|
|L x W x H||177.9–178.4 x 79.7 x 50.7–51.2 in|
|0–60 MPH||3.5–3.7 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||190 mph (est)|