2012 Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet

Purists often argue that they don't see the point in the convertible version of a performance car, because cutting off the roof reduced structural rigidity, and the power-folding top usually adds weight. To which the proper response is, "So what?"

Even in its supposedly compromised, convertible form, the 911 Turbo S is all the sports car one could ever want and more. This Porsche is incredibly visceral; just listen to the high-tech growl of that boxer six behind you, and feel the punch in the back when the turbos kick in (and they do kick in -- unlike many modern engines that smoothly integrate their turbos, this flat six's turbo thrust is unmistakable).

What's wrong with hearing that fantastic engine sound up close and personal without a roof? Why not feel the full brutal hurricane force of the wind when you wind out the classic, center-mounted tach?

With or without a metal roof, the Turbo S is an incredible performer. But, it's not one without flaws. The Tiptronic gearbox, for one, is not a great automatic. The stereo/navigation interface leaves a lot to be desired. The convertible top creaks and squeaks when it's raised. And the just-off-the-floor seating position is not for everyone.

Then there's the option pricing. A raft of extras raises the price of this 911 by about 10 percent, which seems reasonable until you actually see what you're buying: grey seat belts for $540? Rear footwell lighting for $415? Side of center console w/deviating stitching for $310? Front seat backrests in exterior color for $1580? Although other carmakers sometimes try to copy it, Porsche's option lists reign supreme as the most absurd in the auto business.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

Like Joe Lorio, I was amused and dismayed by the 911 Turbo S Cabriolet's options list. But what I really thought about when I drove this car was the fact that it might be the last time I drive a 997-chassis Porsche 911. The standard 911 coupe and convertible have already been unveiled in all-new 991-chassis versions, the convertible replete with a slick new rigid fabric roof that's supported by titanium cross bars, versus our Turbo S tester's more conventional folding fabric roof. I suppose it's fitting that one of the last run-out models of the 997-chassis is this over-the-top Turbo S cabriolet; Porsche decided to save the best for last and all that jazz. As I reveled in the big turbo boost in the backside and remembered just how precise and how full of feel this generation of 911's steering is, I couldn't help but feel like I was having one last affair with an old flame before heading into marriage with the new 991-chassis car. Oh, what am I saying? I only WISH I were heading into a permanent relationship with a brand-new Porsche 911. Can't wait to drive the upcoming Turbo and GT3 versions of the 991-chassis.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

What's not to like about a Porsche 911 Turbo that costs almost as much as my house (and is a heckuva lot more fun to spend time in)? About the only thing better than driving a 911 Turbo on a beautiful summer day is a 911 Turbo with the top down. Acceleration, steering, braking, balance - the Porsche pretty much has it all in spades. And it looks great, too, even if there is a new one just around the corner. The silver paint is understated, but the bright yellow brake calipers give it extra flair. Yes, I could nitpick about the rattle that seemed to come from the air intake on the rear fender, or about the seating position, which, for someone of my size, isn't ideal, or the fact that this car doesn't have a manual transmission. But I won't do that, because those are the kinds of things you forget about when you hear the engine fire up, put the car into gear, and press the throttle. Yes, it's expensive, and yes, the options list is just silly. But if you've got the kind of cash you need to get into a 911 Turbo, I'm thinking that an extra $250 for "footrest in sport look" is the last thing you're worrying about.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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Is Joe Lorio getting dotty?  "The Tiptronic gearbox, for one, is not a great automatic". It's pretty clear the car is equipped with a PDK transmission, and since when is that not a great automatic? Is Joe phoning these reviews in or does he actually drive the car? That aside the Turbo S is a nice car but a $ 189,000? I will keep my Carrera GTS with the wide body, black centerlock wheels and all the other goodies for which I paid less than $ 100K. One almost never hears comments on the almost absurd prices associated with the new 991 series and the Boxter.

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