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Porsche Carrera Cabriolet (2001)

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 76,000
     Price As Tested                                    $ 85,270
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.4 Liter F6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 206 cid/3387 cc
     Horsepower                                   300 @ 6800 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               258 @ 4600 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   92.6"/69.5"/174.5"
     Transmission                               Six-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     3250 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.9 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)             205/50ZR17 /255/40ZR17 performance
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                    Rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                     Two+two-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                  0 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.30


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/25/22
     0-60 MPH                                        5.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                   14.0 @ 105 mph
     Top-speed                                           160 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - Porsche has always been one of my dream cars. I loved the 914 and 356 Speedster, but my favorite was the original 911. I've aspired to own one but the second-best alternative is to test one this week. It's 2001 Carrera 911 Cabriolet that is exactly the car I had in mind growing up in the 1970's: a hot little German sportscar that handled the roads like a virtuoso rock-n-roll guitarist handles his instrument, with equal parts precision and fury. According to our press packet, the 911 started in 1965, although my Dad says he press-tested a half-dozen of them in '64. With a stylish design and a powerful six-cylinder engine, the 911 is still the archetypal sports car. The 3.4-liter flat-six engine pumps out 300 horses, with plenty of torque to get it screaming down the highway. I felt the urge for speed every time I stepped into the cockpit. I guess some cars just have that certain something.

MIKELE - I loved the 911 because it reminded me of the 70's too. A family friend drove a Carrera back then and used to give me rides in it all the time. It was a blast, and our test vehicle brought back some of those great memories. The six-speed manual transmission shifts easy, and although the optional five-speed Tiptronic S automatic/manual transmission system is considered an upgrade, I prefer a stick. I get a better feel of the power and it seems to gives me better control. The press pack was predictably complete and precise and gave me a lot of insight into why the 911 handles so well. The MacPherson-strut front suspension is rather simple, but it uses a lot of aluminum for light weight. The multi-link rear suspension is somewhat unique. It has 205/50ZR17 tires in the front and 255/40ZR17s in the rear for super road grip. It's low to the ground and wider and longer than the older models I remember, so it really sticks like glue through mountain roads. Porsche changed the rear suspension some years back, so even not-so-skilled drivers can handle a bit of spirited driving.

BRENDAN - You' right, the first 911 Cabrio we had was in '87 and it seems that it was shorter and narrower. This new one is really an eye-catcher. With the top down and fancy sunglasses, anyone would look like a celebrity. But even celebrities will have to choose only one friend to cruise with because there's no room for much of anything in back. Even a fancy toy poodle would have felt claustrophobic. The interior of the 911 is of the classic German design, with precise dash instruments that are easy to read and form-fitting power leather seats. Unfortunately, we won't forget those difficult-to-master radio controls. That's been a Porsche feature for years. Our tester had Porsche's Technic Package that featured a CD player, Litronic headlights, headlight washers, an on-board computer and a wind deflector.

MIKELE - The 911 is a very attractive car, and I really appreciated its sleek lines and classic Teutonic style. The Cabriolet has the same drag and lift coefficients as the 911 coupe and that makes it the sleekest soft-top on the market. Road noise is imperceptible inside and it's loaded with safety features like anti-lock brakes with huge cross-drilled vented discs and aluminum four-piston brake calipers which gives it the shortest stopping distance in the industry. It has Porsche's Side Impact Protection System which contains a total of four airbags for the driver and passenger. It has high torsional rigidity, a feature I'd expect in a car this expensive, and the car shows no cowl shudder over rough roads. The Cabriolet also comes with an automatically deployed rollover protection system designed to protect the occupants should the car overturn. On its way over, the roll-bar pushes up into place. This is an important safety feature that I think all convertibles should have - especially the high-performance ones.

BRENDAN - Porsches feel so safe, it's tough to resist taking it out and really opening it up. The car goes like a rocket.

MIKELE - Bren, you'll have to learn to keep your foot out of it in cars like this Porsche or you'll be spending your "ballpark tour" savings on traffic fines.