McLaren - quite rightly - likes to make a big deal about the carbonfibre cells it builds supercars around. They’re strong, they’re light, and they’re so stiff, that when it’s time to hack the roof off something like a 720S to make a Spider version, there’s no change to rigidity.
But here’s the thing - a modern car’s body shell, one made from regular ol’ metal, is so solid that the drop in stiffness tends to be pretty much imperceptible. Plus, the bulky underbody stiffening measures used in convertibles of yore - that add weight and cabin shake - often aren’t needed.
A good example of this was our first go in the Porsche 911 Speedster a few months ago. On the roads, the new one feels just as composed as the 911 GT3 it’s kinda/sorta based on. But the old 997 Speedster we drove on the same day? It’s best described as ‘floppy’. Thankfully, the new 911 Cabriolet drives more like the former.
Save for the vast expanse of the Earth’s atmosphere atop your head, there’s precious little to separate the driving experience from that of the coupe. All the stuff we love about the regular 911 is here - the almost N/A-like response of the twin-turbo flat-six, the incredible high-speed stability, the natural-feeling electric power steering, and the 992’s supercar-baiting performance.
It’s better in standard Carrera form, though. The Carrera Cab we tried was a 4S, and as nice as it is having 444bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 3.6 seconds (see what I mean about ‘supercar-baiting’?), the 385bhp output of the ‘lesser’ 911 is plenty.
Also, the rear-drive versions of the 992 are so capable, you have to question the need for all-wheel drive. The all-weather ability of the 4 is incredible and there is a pleasing rear-bias to the system, but it will start to push wide at the front end in some corners - a shame when Porsche has pretty much eradicated understeer in the rear-drive Carrera and Carrera S.
But that’s all the criticism that could be levelled at the tin-top 4S. Whether you go for a Carrera, 4, S or 4S, you’ll struggle to tell the difference between the soft top and the coupe. Most impressive of all is how well it hides its weight - this particular 992 weighs in at 1635kg, but from the way it can be chucked around, you wouldn’t know it.
For anyone preferring their 911 with infinite headroom, the costs - both financial and otherwise - are now minimal. It’s only slightly more expensive than the coupe, it’s still a handling masterclass, and there’s loads of room in the back. It does look quite ass-heavy from some angles thanks to the plumper rear that’s necessary to accommodate the folded roof (also hampering rear visibility), but that’s a minor complaint.
What could be a deal-breaker is the noise. Traditionally, we favour drop-top supercars and high-end sports cars due to the added sense of occasion thanks to the lack of metal between your ears and the exhaust pipes. With the 992, though, this means you’re in for a less pleasing soundtrack.
In the fixed-roof 992 - with its new exhaust system and repositioned air intakes - the rear part of the cabin acts as an echo chamber, to the point where the turbo flat-six is almost painfully loud in the mid-range. With a fabric roof, you don’t get quite the same effect. Drop it down - which takes 12 seconds - and exhaust noise takes over completely.
That wouldn’t normally be an issue, but with a set of pipes that are friendly with both the WLTP regime and new, more stringent noise regulations, what you actually hear is a lot of rasp. It’s not a bad din, but it’s not an especially nice one either.
That makes the appeal of the 911 Cabriolet aligned more with just the pleasant feeling of alfresco motoring, and - dare I say it - the driver wanting to be seen. It means that whenever you see a 992 Cab rolling around, you’ll be left wondering if the person behind the wheel actually gives a damn about the amazing chassis sitting under them, or if they’re more worried about exhibitionism.
A tremendous achievement the new 911 Cabriolet may be, but for petrolheads, the coupe is still the one to have.