Even with the electronic aids, the rearward weight distribution is a serious disadvantage in strong crosswinds at 125 mph. Every serious gust plays havoc with the car's featherweight front end. In certain conditions, this waywardness becomes so extreme that you briefly need to stab the brakes to pin down the nose. Ah, yes, the brakes. On nine out of ten days, the combination of monoblock four-piston calipers and massive ventilated rotors performs with aplomb: the brakes are attentive, progressive, full of strength and staying power. When the roads are covered with slush and snow and salt and spray, however, the stoppers suddenly respond with pupil-widening lag and need precious extra moments to wipe the wet off the discs. And this was not just an occasional problem. The phenomenon stayed with us all the way back home to Stuttgart, and it took the edge off what otherwise was a truly sparkling performance. We can only hope that Porsche will fit more suitable pads and/or more comprehensive splash plates to fix this flaw as soon as possible.
Despite these flaws, it is almost impossible not to fall in love with the new Cabrio. Like every 911, it's a thrill to drive hard. Instead of excelling in a single area, the Porsche wins out because of the coherence of its controls. The steering puts the road into your hands, the chassis invites you to explore the challenging zone between grip and slide, and the drivetrain distributes simultaneous kicks to the stomach, the ears, and the seat of the pants.
While the messy and pretentious new cockpit is a matter of personal taste, we admire the build quality, the ability to use this car 365 days a year, and what a good value it is. Although the S model is nice to have, we would probably save $9800 and go for the basic 325-hp Carrera with the Bose sound system. This stereo automatically adjusts the volume in relation to vehicle speed, cabin noise, and the position of the convertible top. Trust us: Bruckner's First Symphony never sounded better than between Arabba and Corvara, with the top down, the majestic Campolongo filling the windshield, and the late-afternoon sun tickling us from behind.
On sale: Now
Price: $79,895 (Carrera), $89,695 (Carrera S)
Engines: 3.6L DOHC flat-6, 325 hp, 273 lb-ft; 3.8L DOHC flat-6, 355 hp, 295 lb-ft