Roof on or roof off, the new Porsche 911 is a blast.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

154 pounds. That's all that separates this 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet with the 4S Coupe that my pal Andrew Krok recently tested. Heck, the two test cars are even spec'd the same. And they're both fan-freaking-tastic.

That's because the performance gap between 911 Coupe and Cabriolet is closer than ever before. Cutting a car's roof off inherently creates some structural issues that can affect handling, and the added weight of the electronic top mechanism is an unnecessary bit of ballast. Yet the Carrera 4S Cabriolet is so quick, so sharp and so unrelentingly rewarding, the tradeoffs for going topless are pretty much nonexistent.

8.6

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet

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Like

  • Strong turbocharged power
  • Precise handling
  • Fantastic infotainment tech
  • Added bonus of the wind in your hair

Don't Like

  • Not as pretty as the coupe
  • A big price premium over the hardtop

Scroll to the bottom of this review and you'll see my individual ratings for various aspects of the 911. Compare those to Krok's earlier scores, and you'll only notice one discrepancy: design. Much as I love the way the 992 911 Coupe looks, the Cabriolet doesn't have the same allure to my eyes. Sure, the profile is similar to the Coupe with the top up, this tester's black fabric roof contrasting nicely against the Night Blue paint. But then you put the top down and, ehh.

Look, I know there are fans of the 911 Cabriolet's signature hunchback shape, but I'm not that guy. In fact, I think the hump is somehow more egregious in this 992 generation; even in Coupe form, the 911 definitely appears to have more junk in its trunk. The Cabriolet's topless form only emphasizes how much weight this car is carrying over its rear axle. Maybe it's the automotive equivalent of "bootylicious."

As for the rest of the car, it's dynamite. Unlike Krok, I don't mind the 911's funny door handles, nor do I hate the tiny electronic gear selector inside. Besides, you shouldn't be using the standard shifter to toggle up and down through the gears -- certainly not when there's a great set of steering-wheel mounted paddles at your disposal, anyway. (Or just get the new seven-speed manual transmission. Problem solved.)

As a whole, the Cabriolet's interior is every bit as nice as the Coupe's, with comfortable, supportive seats, a clean aesthetic and cozy accommodations for two adults. Like the Coupe, the Cabriolet has back seats, but considering the backrests are completely vertical, they're better used for storage. I did shoehorn a friend back there at one point -- you know, for testing -- and he only complained for, like, 20 minutes.

Two screens in the gauge cluster, one screen on the dash. The 911's cabin tech has finally caught up to the rest of Porsche's range.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The 911 gets a huge tech upgrade for its latest iteration, which is obvious from the minute you get behind the wheel. The central analog tachometer is flanked by a pair of high-resolution displays, and the right side is reconfigurable, allowing you to see vehicle data, a full-screen map and more. Of course, with the steering wheel in the position I like, it cuts off my view of the far ends of either screen, which kind of defeats the purpose of all that digital real estate. Nothing like having to bend my head down just to see how much fuel is in the tank.

Move to the dash, and the excellent Porsche Communication Management multimedia system is housed on a 10.9-inch display. This is the same PCM software you'll find in the Cayenne and Panamera, with crisp graphics, a reconfigurable home screen, Wi-Fi hotspot and support for Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto). I've praised this system before, and nothing is lost in the transition to the 911's slightly more compact arrangement. PCM's feature set is rich, and though it takes a few runs to completely master the menu workflow, being able to program the main screen to show as much or as little information as you like should keep you from having to constantly fiddle with it while driving.

Because of the power top's added weight, the Cabriolet has a slight performance penalty compared to the 911 Carrera 4S Coupe. The droptop is 0.2 seconds slower in the 0-to-60-mph acceleration run, though it still completes that sprint in a more-than-respectable 3.4 seconds. That's assuming you opt for the Sport Chrono pack, which you should, because it also gets you launch control, meaning you can reliably hit that 3.4-second blast-off when it comes time to impress your friends.

It's not like those two measly tenths of a second are going to matter to anyone in the real world anyway, except for maybe old guys at car shows who need bragging rights to sleep better at night. The 911 feels like a goddamn rocket when you mash the throttle, the twin-turbocharged flat-six engine sending 443 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels. No, at 3,641 pounds, this 911 Cab isn't exactly a lightweight. But rest assured knowing that bulk is all muscle, not fat.

Even so, the Carrera 4S Cabriolet can cut a rug with the best of 'em, making quick work of my usual California canyon test route. This car is perfectly balanced, every part of the driving experience a total joy. The throttle is nicely weighted and easy to modulate, power coming on progressively no matter where you are in the rev range. Sport mode prevents the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission from upshifting too quickly, and Sport Plus gives the gearbox the go-ahead to quickly drop a few gears while braking before entering a corner. The steering is textbook Porsche perfect, and you'll run out of pavement before the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires run out of grip.

For the maximum experience, get the $2,090 rear-axle steering option, which helps scoot the rump 'round tight bends. You'll also want the $5,460 Sport Package, which gets you the aforementioned Sport Chrono pack, a sonorous sport exhaust and the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) sport suspension, which lowers the car by 10 millimeters and unlocks a stiffer setting for the dampers. That last bit doesn't hurt the 911's ride quality, either, even on the 4S' seemingly too-large 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels.

Mile after mile, it's hard to find fault with the Cabriolet compared to the 911 Coupe. You might notice some disparity at the limit, say on a track, but that's not where 4S Cabriolet buyers are playing. Plus, you get the added sensory enjoyment of topless motoring: the wind in your hair, the sun gracing your brow. All the better to hear that lovely flat-six hum behind you, too.

Like it or not, the 911 Cabriolet has always had a hunchback.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Even when you aren't living that fabulous top-down lifestyle, the 911 is a car that makes running errands a thrill. The cabin is quiet with the top up. The engine's power is easy to extract in short bursts between stoplights. The steering and chassis are nimble enough to make darting around city streets a breeze. A number of driver-assistance aids are available to make commuting easier, too, though in typical Porsche fashion, everything from adaptive cruise control to lane-keeping assist to a 360-degree camera are all locked behind a paywall.

That last part is sort of a shame, especially given the 4S Cabriolet's lofty $133,400 starting price. Go crazy with the options (it's a Porsche, so the sky's the limit) and you can spec a 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet up towards $200,000. Even a modestly equipped car like my tester will set you back $154,470, including $1,350 for destination. Great as this car undoubtedly is, there's no getting around that price tag.

In fact, if there's one major flaw of the Carrera 4S Cabriolet, it's that it costs $12,800 more than a 4S Coupe, and I'm not sure the top-down experience is really worth that premium. That said, going topless no longer means any performance tradeoffs, and if you're well into the six-figure car club, the added cost is likely easier to absorb. Personally, I'd hold out for the inevitable 992 Targa. After all, if Porsche can engineer the 4S Cabriolet to be every bit as rewarding a performer as the Coupe, I can only assume the best-of-both-worlds Targa will be nothing short of bliss.

8.6

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet

Score Breakdown

Performance 9 Features 8.5 Design 8.5 Media 8.5
Engine Turbocharged, Flat 6 Cylinder Engine Drivetrain All Wheel Drive MPG 20 MPG Passenger Capacity 4 Body Type Convertibles