A Supercar for All Seasons

| Boston Magazine |

It was well past midnight as I drove the ’08 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet—the first Turbo convertible Porsche has made in years—down the deserted highway on my way back from a friend’s memorial in the Berkshires. The top was up, the Bose was pulling in a soothing jazz station, and the mood was pleasant but hardly festive. So why play around? I asked myself.

[sidebar]Why? Because, as British mountaineer George Mallory once said, it was there. I reminded myself it’s not often you have someone else’s $140,000 sports car at your disposal. The Turbo, the Ferrari, and the Lamborghini are the world’s only supercars that matter, and while the Porsche, with a top speed of 193 mph, might be the slowest of the three, its all-wheel-drive platform and fundamental stability make it the only sensible choice here in New England. And in the convertible iteration, it’s as ideal for our glorious summers as it is for our cranky winters.

Hence the obligation to put the Turbo through its paces. In the early-morning darkness, I amped up to a steady 100 mph, and the loudest piece of the Turbo’s near-silent symphony was the tires. When I jiggered the wheel at 125 mph, creating a slight wag of the tail, the Porsche was still rock solid, drama free.
My next experiment left no doubt of the 480 horsepower rating. After slowing to 100 mph, I accelerated—hard, without downshifting—while dropping my eyes from road to speedometer to nonexistent passenger, then back at the speedometer. With an estimated time lapse of less than a second, I was up to 130 mph.

Suffice to say the new Turbo provides more top-down fun than anything out there simply because it makes so much sense for Boston drivers. Like us, its essential personality isn’t showoff-y or adolescent. This is not just a topless version of the Carrera coupe: In addition to enormous power (a Porsche signature), the Turbo Cabriolet has brilliant suspension, traction, and stability systems, the last of which distributes torque between the front and rear axles—a godsend on wet or snowy surfaces.

As for the top, it retracts in about 20 seconds and can be lowered at speeds of up to 31 mph. Translation: no more being honked at as you hold up traffic at stoplights. Also, while the rear seats are fit only for a midsize dog, the driver and passenger “adaptive sport seats” ($1,145 extra) are as comfortable as my ergonomic desk chair.

Though it’s odd to call a six-figure ride a bargain, the Turbo’s $136,500 base price is actually relatively practical. The Ferrari F430 runs $200,000; the Lamborghini Murciélago roadster, over $350,000. And neither qualifies even remotely as a four-season car for those of us in Boston, who must drive in sun, sleet, snow, and, let’s not forget, traffic—all conditions this Porsche takes into account. I want mine in white or midnight-blue metallic.

Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet
PRICE: $136,500
MPG: 15 city/24 highway
ENGINE: 3.6-liter, 480-hp V6 top speed: 193 mph