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2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

The 911 Carrera 4S Convertible isn't the most track-focused car in the Porsche line-up, but that doesn't mean it can't hold its own on a circuit.

2 weeks ago
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Chris Atkinson
Performance Editor
PROS
  • Effortless performance
  • Excellent cabin ergonomics
  • Sharp PDK gearbox
CONS
  • Not quite GT3 sharp
  • Coupe is preferable for track work
  • Overzealous driver assists

Chris Atkinson takes a rather unusual car around the track proving that even in convertible form, the Porsche 911 is still a blisteringly quick car.

Overall Track Performance

While I did think about attacking the track with the roof down, I used my vague understanding of aerodynamics to decide in favour of roof up.

I don’t think it mattered either way. On the track this car behaved just as you would imagine of a Porsche. I really wish I had the words to describe it, but even in this less track-focused 911 there’s a certain feeling that flows through your body when you up the pace. There is no shock, no abrasiveness, just an understanding between you and the car.

Very rarely, even in racing, do you get that feeling. Compromise is always inevitable, but Porsche has managed to imprint that feeling on a wide range of vehicles. You might have guessed I enjoyed driving this car – but there’s a limit here and the sweet spot for this car was at nine tenths.

It’s not an all-out race model, nor is it intended to be, but the lap time it achieved was pretty effortless!

Overall Road Performance

The way this car can switch from a subdued, mild-mannered convertible, into an absolute beast is very cool. Turning the Drive Mode dial from Normal to Sport+ brings the car to life, and everything steps up a few levels.

The more time I spent with this car, the more I appreciated what it was capable of. There is not much I can fault. For a car that’s so easy to drive, there is definitely a lot of fun and enjoyment to be had, even if it never sees a track. 

Engine

With my helmet on I started to doubt myself. Is this really a turbo engine?

The power delivery is so smooth and the pedal is so linear with what I was asking. Of course I was a little confused, but I wasn’t disappointed!

The official 331kW and 450Nm almost feel like an understatement. Our 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds smashed the officially listed time by 0.3 seconds. Even with the roof down it did 3.65 seconds.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

On the track it was so easy to be at the right engine speed, it always felt like you had a responsive throttle and the engine delivered exactly what you needed. It’s also not as scary as you might imagine, there are no shocks or steps. It almost behaves like a naturally-aspirated engine.

I really wanted to try the Sport Response Button, which is meant to boost engine performance for 20 seconds, and see if it would have improved the lap time. But with only four laps, I completely missed it! I’ll try this when we get another 911 on the track.

Braking

Braking was excellent, I could really trust the brakes from the first application and barely even thought about them after that… Which is a good thing.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

On the track if something isn’t on your mind, that usually means that it is doing the job it was meant to.

Chassis

It’s really hard to say too much about the chassis. As you would expect it’s very well sorted, and the fact I was in a convertible was not even a thought.

That being said, I would like to see the difference between the coupe and the cabriolet. The extra 70kg of weight will play a role, and the hardtop might be slightly more reactive.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

Given Porsche can take this chassis and turn it into an all-out racer so easily, any balance issues are likely related to suspension settings and weight instead of any fundamental problem.  

Transmission and Differentials

Balance on power was excellent for an all-wheel drive car. It was so neutral and controlled all the way through from the first application of the throttle until you’re straight.

There is something to be said about having a rear-wheel drive Porsche, but when a system performs as well as this it’s hard to complain. All rear-wheel drive would offer is more of a challenge, if that’s what you’re after.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

Gear shifts were excellent, it was super responsive and exactly when and how I wanted it. I liked how the PDK didn’t try and change gears for you, it was entirely up to the driver.

Suspension

You can tell this has been more tuned as an everyday car. It’s a bit soft and lazy on the track, but that’s in comparison to the Cayman GT4 we tested. Up to nine tenths it’s more than enough, only when you ask for that last bit did I notice it can be slightly lazy.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

This laziness is well rounded, and just causes the slightest bit of entry understeer and mid-corner oversteer. With a bit more damping support you could have easily carried a lot more corner speed, and that’s why it is so easy for Porsche to take this car and turn it into a track weapon like the GT3 RS.

Steering

The steering is really nice, but missing a little of the sharp reaction you would like on the track. This is in part down to the less responsive chassis tune, with everything moving a little more slowly.

Wheels and Tyres

I thought the tyres struck a really nice balance between road and track. The drop off was not too bad and they felt supportive considering the high track temperatures of the day.

This is actually one of the tyres that achieved the least drop off, and there were no crazy pressure increases – in part due to the great chassis.

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

There is also a really nice balance between the front and rear tyres. With 245/35 R20 fronts and 305/30 R21 rears, a lot of thought and effort has obviously been put into finding the right balance.  

Driver Aids (Electronics)

With stability and traction control on there is a lot of restriction in this car. It has been designed more for everyday use and really starts to control the car on the track. I did the first two flying laps with the systems on, and both on corner entry and exit they were intervening. You can really tell the different between this and the GT models!

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet Performance Review

To get a good lap time, I had to turn all the driver aids off. To be honest even in this mode, it was not a scary car and the all-wheel drive system really helps keep you safe… to a point!

Cockpit (Ergonomics)

The seating position is really good. I could get nice and low, and at a good angle. For track work the standard seats lack some lateral support, especially around the upper back. If you are looking to track this car a lot, the Sports Seat Plus option would be worthwhile.

The steering wheel is a nice size and even though it isn’t Alcantara, I didn’t have any issue with my hands sliding on the leather. It was also a nice touch to have the centring strip stitched into the top of the wheel.

Having the drive modes on the wheel is great, but I found it hard to activate the Sport Response Button while driving aggressively. I would have like this located in a slightly easier-to-reach position.

I liked the centrally located tachometer, but on the track I would like a bigger gear indicator. Overall the dash layout is simple but very effective.

Visibility was really good as well, both on and off the track.

Lap Time

What seems to be a common trait with Porsches on the track is how easily they do a good lap time. I don’t have to think and plan the lap too much, the times just come naturally.

The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet managed a very impressive 57.22 lap. That puts its above the Mercedes-AMG A45 S and Toyota Supra, which just goes to show you how quick a 911 is.

To some the lap time might be a little bit of an underachievement, but I wouldn’t read too much into it. This is still a really good time, especially considering the higher temperatures on the day we tested this.

I would say the only thing is as soon as I turned the traction control off, I found half a second. It was definitely overly safe and holding the car back on the track.

Overall a great package but I would prefer the metal roof over my head if I was going to track this car regularly. Even so, it’s good to know even the convertible can be tracked so effortlessly.

Atko’s 3:

  1. Don’t expect it to carry corner speed like the GT version
  2. Even though it is All wheel drive, apply the throttle smoothly to get a good exit
  3. You can attack most parts of the track without the car biting you

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MRLP A$313,700
9.6L
331kW
220g