Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg
Cars & Bikes

How to Spend $182,000 on a Low-Key Convertible

The 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet is incredibly fast, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. 

Those who talk a lot, they often don’t do a lot.

And those who do a lot? They don’t need to talk a lot.

It’s a rule that applies to everything from the playing field to the boardroom. It applies to what you wear and what you drive, too. If you have a special car, you don't need to make a fuss. The people you want to understand? They'll understand.   

You don’t need to belabor the point with extra bling.

The 911 Turbo Cabriolet comes standard with a seven-speed, paddle-shifting transmission.
Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

The Undercover Lover

Which brings me to the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet I drove recently in Los Angeles. At $182,000 (including options such as a $510 interior "light-design package" and fees) it’s a Very Expensive Car. From the outside, though, it looks basically the same, minus some venting, as the Porsche 911 Cabriolet that costs $80,000 less.

What’s more, it looks milder than others in its category: The sexy and fast Audi R8 Spyder ($175,100) and the handsome classic Mercedes-Benz AMG S63 Cabriolet ($176,400).

Compared with those two convertibles, which communicate their driving capabilities with ribbed rears, side vents that seem to span the width of the car, and grills that dazzle like Little Wayne’s orthodontia, the 911 Turbo Cab looks humble, even mundane.  

Porsche’s 911 Turbo Cabriolet comes with a 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged boxer, six-cylinder engine and AWD.  
Photographer: Ashley Glasson

But that’s to the untrained eye. In fact the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo Cabriolet is faster to 60 mph than both of those cars (3.0 seconds compared with 3.5 and 3.8 for the Audi and the Merc, respectively). It also dominates that high-profile segment in top speed (198 mph), torque (523 pound-feet) and handling (it makes you feel like a car-racing god).

And it’s far more fuel-efficient than those other flashy convertibles. With its interior space, its worth as a daily driver, and its relative fuel efficiency, you might even call it practical. (I'm using “you” loosely, here.)

The Porsche You Already Know and Trust

Credit Porsche’s 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged boxer six-cylinder engine for much of that character. It’s the same one we have known and loved in the 911 Turbo Coupe, but boosted by 20 hp over last year’s drop-top model. The 911 Turbo Cabriolet is light enough (3,682 pounds compared with the more-than-4,800-lb. Merc, for instance) that it can get away with a small, efficient heart. 

The soft top raises and drops in fewer than 20 seconds. 
Photographer: Porsche

It’s nearly impossible to say anything new about how the (at this point mythical) 911 engages the road as you drive it. This is a car that delivers an x-factor far above what its specs say on paper. You’ll always remember how you felt behind the wheel the first time you drive one.

But it bears repeating that Porsche’s true win here is in making the 911 Turbo Cabriolet feel the same as the lighter Coupe. It has a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. As you cruise around corners and up hills—the tighter the better, if you want to feel this car’s true capabilities—everything inside feels compact, solid, and well in hand. The brakes are alert and instantly present when you need them; the gas pedal responds like a champ after taking a big inhale (as turbos tend to do).

 The rear shells of the front seats can be lined in leather for an additional $1,870, as seen here.
Photographer: Ashley Glasson

The Hidden Price-Tag Trick

The styling of the car follows its driving nature: Capable, fast, powerful, controlled, and totally low-key about all of it. New this year are 3D tail lamps and revised skins around the door handles, plus a Turbo-specific fascia with black-rimmed intakes and new 20-inch rims. But even these seem appropriately reserved. 

A rear spoiler and those vents in the rear haunches are virtually the only thing that tells commoners you’ve got the good stuff. The spoiler extends and tilts at three different levels, depending on your speed.

The 911 Turbo achieves 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
Photographer: Porsche

Inside is a seven-inch touch screen with new smartphone-capable functions and a GT sport wheel with shifting paddles. You can opt to have Porsche Crests emblazoned on the headrests ($285) and the backrest shells of your seats wrapped in leather so they blend in with the rest of the leather as though you’re on safari ($1,870). But that’s about it. The back seat is still too small for any real use; the front is spacious and gloriously utilitarian.  

In short, I love how secretive this car is about just how good it is. It has nothing to prove, doesn't need to advertise. And the fact that most people will suspect neither its capabilities nor its expense is the perfect final reason to buy it.

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