• Like the coupe, new Cabriolet models are lighter and more powerful than their predecessors
  • Innovative soft-top design allows more coupe-like silhouette
  • Both standard and "S" models offer choice of 7-speed transmissions

Two all-new Porsche 911s, the Carrera Cabriolet and Carrera S Cabriolet, made their auto show debut in Detroit, bringing more power, efficiency and refinement to the ragtop version of the legendary sports car. Like their coupe counterparts, the new Cabriolet models are lighter than their predecessors and include new fuel-saving technologies. Either a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is available on both the Carrera Cabriolet and the more powerful Carrera S Cabriolet.

The new soft top is engineered for weight savings and designed to more closely resemble the sleek roofline of the new 911 coupe. Lighter materials like aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steel help to keep the power folding roof's weight down, which translates into better performance and higher efficiency.

In the base Carrera Cabriolet, a 3.4-liter flat-six takes the place of the previous generation's 3.6-liter, but with direct injection delivers more power, 350 horsepower, and better fuel efficiency. The 3.8-liter flat six in the Carrera S Cabriolet gains 15 hp over the previous model for output of 400 hp.

The new 7-speed manual transmission, standard on both cars, is optimized for sporty driving in gears one through six. The tall seventh gear is strictly for cruising, yielding quiet and economical operation. The top speed of 177 mph in the Carrera Cabriolet and 187 in the Carrera S Cabriolet are achieved in sixth gear. The race-bred PDK transmission is also available, allowing drivers quick and sporty gear selection or fully automatic operation.

Like the new 911 coupe, the new Cabriolets share other new efficiency innovations. A start-stop function keeps city fuel consumption low. A new "sailing" feature on PDK-equipped 911 allows more efficient coasting.

While convertible 911s are often considered to be softer models compared to their fixed-roof sisters, the character differences between the two cars appear to be shrinking. A more refined and luxurious interior makes both cars more comfortable than their predecessors. Plus, innovations like the lighter soft top help to close the weight gap between the coupe and convertible. Less than a quarter of a second separate the 0-60 mph times of the coupe versus the Cabriolet, a small performance cost in exchange for the incomparable joy of top-down driving in one of the world's best sports cars.

What it means to you: Open versions of the new 911, available in both 350-horsepower Carrera Cabriolet and 400-horsepower Carrera S Cabriolet configurations, go on sale this spring.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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