Saying goodbye to the 911 this afternoon was like watching a man come to repossess the house. Painful…
At lease seven days in a great sports car is better than none and we can tell you, the 911 Cabriolet is a great car in every respect.
It’s a super car you can use on a daily basis. Trundle around town in a low gear, storm off at the traffic lights or blast around country A-roads in four-wheel drive heaven, the 911 does the lot.
Negatives? Slightly tricky cupholders, an awkward gate to the seventh gear and poor over the shoulder visibility.
What are you waiting for?
Here are a few random reasons why the 911 Cabriolet is the best soft-top on the market. First, when you open the door after a rainstorm, the water doesn’t drip in to the cabin. Does your car do that?
Second, if it rains when the top is down, provided you don’t come to a grinding stop, you will stay dry. Such are the aerodynamics of this car.
Thirdly, there is a second sat nav screen that pops up in the instrument binnacle when you come to a navigation instruction. So, you have an overall map in the main dashboard that affords a general view – then the second explains graphically where you need to turn.
And finally, the wind deflector really is a work of art. Instead of manually pulling a deflector out of the boot and fighting to install it at the roadside, this one works beautifully. The frame pops up automatically, then the fabric material stretches over it.
You see, it’s the attention to detail that makes a great car…
It’s been a long wait but the sun has finally got his hat on over the Cotswolds today – perfect weather for woolly chapeau and a Porsche 911 Cabriolet. And I actually have to drive to Banbury for a reason, so I don’t feel bad about leaving the office and ‘making progress’ in the Porsche.
I believe the sign of a great cabriolet is when it looks as good with the top up and is does down. With the Porsche it’s the other way around. The 911 is sensational roof on – and just exquisite with it tuck away under the automatic tonneau cover.
The roof mechanism is fast too and there’s a separate button for the wind deflector which keeps the draught away from the back of you neck and deadens the noise front the rear-mounted engine. Although that rather adds to the excitement…
One fact I have found about the 911 is that either the seats or my backside need a little extra padding. While the Porsche can be a very usable everyday car (unlike a Ferrari F430, for example), my bum is numb after 45 minutes behind the wheel. They are great sports seats for throwing the 911 around a corner, just not soft enough for a well-trimmed driver…
That’s right – every 911 Cabriolet comes with a magnesium sandwich as standard. You won’t find it in the glovebox but in the roof. One of the reasons why it’s so easy to forget this is a convertible not a coupe is down to the design of the electric hood.
Design in a 911 Cabriolet has always been incredible but this latest model takes it to new levels. Sandwiched between the fabric components of the roof is a layer of magnesium, which forms a coupe-style hard top when it is in place.
The result is minimal road noise but just enough to let you and your passenger enjoy the rasp from the 3.4-litre engine behind you. It’s nothing short of remarkable – although I’d dread to think what it costs to replace!
God decided to make it rain for the last 48 hours in the south of England, so that roof is staying firmly in place. My only problem so far? Remembering the seventh gear in the manual gearbox. To be honest, if I was buying I’d opt for the auto -a round the town you need Fatima Whitbread‘s legs to work that heavy clutch pedal…
Just in case a 911 Cabriolet isn’t enough to get you noticed, Porsche has thoughtfully added the ‘Extrovert Button’. It’s right next to the gearstick and a quick press is guaranteed to turn every head in a 100 yard radius.
The sports exhaust system improves the car’s exhaust note by opening a flap in each of the twin exhaust system’s silencers. It turns the Cabriolet into a snarling beast – although why it’s not a standard feature on the latest 911 is rather surprising.
Shy, retiring types are unlikely to be driving a Porsche in the first place but having just returned from the Bath, I can tell you the 911 wouldn’t have been more conspicuous if I had Kate Moss siting naked next to me.
This latest version of the Cabriolet is around 60kg lighter than the old one and with a more powerful engine under the boot lid, it’s very fast indeed.
However, the best bit so far is the wind-blocker behind the driver’s seat. Wind-blockers are usually removed from a sports car and kept in the garage until the day you sell the car. In the 911, it pops up electronically from the hood well. Brilliant – and you can still hear yourself talking on the Bluetooth phone system at 65mph…
Jessica and I have been discussing the Cascada a lot this week. It would be easy to just compare the Vauxhall to premium brand cabriolets from the likes of BMW and Audi.
However, at £24,000, the Cascada is a much cheaper alternative and for the money, it does provide comfortable soft-top motoring for four people.
We have been blessed with great weather over the last seven days but in the depths of winter, I wonder if the Cascada would prove to be equally as likeable? I suspect not.
If you are an ‘enthusiastic’ driver, then there is no doubt you should be looking to spend your wages elsewhere because the 1.4 engine and notchy gearbox are disappointing.
It’s sadly a poor relation to the VW Golf Cabriolet but the Cascada should be on your test drive list if you are already looking at cars like the Peugeot 308 CC, or the Renault Megane C-C.
Jeremy Even if the Cascada doesn’t lure you to a Vauxhall dealer, you can’t help but be impressed by the folding mechanism of the roof.
Bank Holidays can be a mixed bag of weather but today we were able to enjoy the last throws of the summer with the wind in our hair. The roof lowers quickly, without the need to undo any catches and folds neatly into a large slice of your boot space. Never mind.
Our 1.4 test car doesn’t have one of those annoying wind deflectors that take up all of the back seat when in place. Instead, the aerodynamics are slippery enough to direct the wind well away from the cabin area, even at motorway speed.
It’s a hairdryer job if you are sat in the back but up front, the Cascada is very refined, especially with all four windows up. Your summer hat should stay in place and you can even hear the sound system.
Jessica The ds3 is what I would call a handbag car. It offers, as any decent handbag should, good design, functionality and is sized for purpose. Anya Hindmarch it is not, however, references to the old Citroen aesthetic, via careful design and innovative dashboard features puts it firmly in the running for a future classic.
Inside, it feels roomy, without the go-cart feel of other small cars, such as the Mini. The Citroen drives as if it has a more substantial stature, with pleasing power and road holding. The seats (which generally are a cause for concern for me, particularly on long journeys) are exceptionally comfortable, this combined with a big drive feel means the DS3 does not have to be a short hop, urban car.
I did have a bad moment when I was forced to look through the driver manual to identify a small button on the dash board. That made me realise how many times I have rooted through one of these tedious books to find specific information. Why is it so tricky to make them a clear and logical read?
Why can’t manufacturers provide an online manual, also available on the in car computer, which only refers to the model you are actually driving, thus saving paper, costs and preventing drivers from manual rage!
The button I eventually discovered was for air freshener ( I thought it was a little movable light !). I’m not sure what that says about the potential demographic but it does look appealing as a physical feature.
Jeremy I doubted Citroen could make a car to rival the Mini. I was wrong. The DS3 is an exceptionally good hatchback and combines all that is best about Citroen – unconventional styling, leftfield think – into a very smart little car. The slick roof operation, comfortable seats and willing engine are the highlights for me. I’m now looking forward to testing the DS5.
Jeremy There are 180 good reasons why the roof on the DS3 Cabrio works so well but one word sums them all up – Webasto. The specialist convertible roof supplier has a history of making sliding soft-tops that dates back to 1901.
The DS3 roof is made up of 180 different parts in a co-build between Citroen and Webasto. It works brilliantly – even better than my 1969 MGB GT, which sported a fantastically simple but beautifully designed sliding Webasto sunroof too.
The DS3 Cabrio roof is operated by a one-touch button next to the rear-view mirror. It powers all the way back but does make the Citroen cabin very windy when fully retracted. There is a small wind deflector for back seat passengers but it works best when the roof is only folded back half-way – especially at high speeds.
Citroen has taken the DS3 roof design very seriously indeed, with a rigorous testing programme during the design stages. It’s certainly worked a lot better than the old Citroen C3 Pluriel. When that car was launched, a friend was awaiting delivery of a test car, only to receive a phone call saying the roof had blown off en route!
Trust me, that won’t happen with the DS3. It has one of the best folding roofs available for a car costing this sort of money.
Jeremy I think I’ve found out why the DS3 is such a nifty little mover – it’s all down to weight. Turning any car into a convertible means beefing up the structural integrity of the body, usually compromised by chopping off the roof. Then you have the extra weight of the roof folding mechanism itself to add to the equation.
So, far from being lighter, cabrios often tip the scales in the wrong direction. The DS3 is different. Like its Fiat 500C rival, the cars B and C-pillars (the metalwork around the windows) remains in place, keeping the structural rigidity intact. According to the Fiat press blurb, this means the Cabrio is only 25kg heavier than the hatch!
On the road, this translates into a convertible that feels exceptionally sharp turning into a corner, with none of the rattle and body shake associated with soft-tops in the past. Great fun for a car that is essentially a hatchback with the roof peeled off.
I have also finally managed the get the DAB radio working today! It’s obviously an aftermarket fit for UK customers, which makes operation less integrated than a lot of other cars. That said, it works, although as far as I can work out it does not flash the chosen station onto the screen, making station selection harder.