Porsche 997 Carrera S cabrio review

4 out of 5
£65000

For

Superb handling, well-engineered, good spec

Against

Not as inspiring or special as it should be, pricey

Remember the old car sticker, usually stuck in the rear window of a banged up old Rover that read: "My other car’s a Porsche"?

That was back in the day when the Porsche badge meant rich, ostentatious and exclusive. These days, Porsche means something different. It’s a byword for clinical engineering, poise and taste.

Unfortunately, it’s lost the exclusive tag. There are plenty of 911s around, the wannabe Boxster is as common as Clapham, and now there’s the Cayman, too.

But don’t let that put you off the new 911. Although cosmetically it’s different from the old one as real butter is from Utterly Butterly, it is slightly meaner, fatter and performance stats suggest ever so slightly unhealthier should you slap it on a bit too thick.

The 997 (to give its proper name) Carrera S offers as precise a piece of automotive machinery as you could wish to drive.

The £65,000 Carrera S version is certainly quick enough, with its rear-mounted 3.8 flat-six engine churning out 355bhp to the back wheels to keep you interested. Handling is great and the ride is sharp. The interior is a masterpiece – so much better than the old version but anyone who’s been in a Boxster (which is half the price, remember) will feel a sense of déjà vu.

The problem with Porsche – as with a host of German cars these days – is that it feels a little over-engineered. Everything feels a little too comfortable; it’s all a little too practical, especially when the excellent hood is raised.

There are a couple of splashes that make you feel rather special – the optional centrally mounted chronometer for timing your laps (as if) and the phone kit, which means you can just pop your SIM card into the dash that turns the whole car into a 182mph handset.

And it’s nice to have a couple of tiny rear seats, even though the forward sloping angle of the pews makes them damned uncomfortable and a real pain for fitting a standard child seat (yes, we tried and succeeded – just).

Verdict

It’s easier to live with the 911 than ever before, but does that mean the joy of ownership is lessened somehow? A super car should be something special – living with one 24/7 won’t keep it special for long.