Open top rush

Open top rush

As an official of the fine dining trade, Nick Shottel is used to speedy delivery and imaculate presentation. Would the latest Porsche 911 Carrera live up to his impeccable standards?

ne17 INSETWhen I was asked by Chris March at room501 Publishing if I would like to road test a sports car for BQ magazine, I jumped at the chance without even knowing what or when I’d be reviewing.

The date was arranged and I was asked to report to JCT 600 at The Silverlink. I was immediately apprehensive. I am not a small man.

At 6’3” the thought of trying to drive a sports car wasn’t going to be as straight forward as one might think.

The weather on the day in question was also cause for concern as it was ‘chucking it down’ to put it mildly.

The car I was given was the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet. After a few minor seat adjustments, I took stock of what I was about to experience.

The fears regarding my height were totally unfounded. There was a good three inches clearance between my head and the roof. In fact the car is incredibly spacious inside.

There is an array of gadgets and switches that control everything from the satellite navigation system to making sure your seats are cooled enough.

All very simple to master. The central console is the same as that of the Cayenne, as are the instrument dials.

All are positioned to achieve the greatest efficiency. The tan coloured interior shouts quality and functionality. The Bose sound system is fantastic, the seats adjust in all manner of ways to ensure optimum comfort and you almost feel engulfed in leather and shag-pile.

Everything about the interior screams luxury. My only criticism is that the angle of the windscreen is such that the top of the dashboard reflects in it which did, at times, impair my vision.

The roof of the Cabriolet appears to be canvas when, in fact it is made of metal with the canvas stretched over it to form what’s effectively a hard top.

There is little to no wind noise and the traditional 911 shape is maintained. The roof folds down into an incredibly small space in around fifteen seconds, unlike most other folding hard  tops that seem to take an age to perform the action and you end up with cramp in the finger depressing the button.

With the roof down the aerodynamics are terrific. The wind around you may be blowing and blustery but when you’re sitting in the cockpit, all is calm.

An electric roller blind-type screen rises up from behind the back seats which stops any wind buffeting and protects any delicate hairstyles.

You can complete your journey without looking like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.

I can imagine having the roof down in all sorts of inclement weather as the heated seats are so efficient it’s like sitting on warm coals.

Roof up or down the road noise is minimal which allows you to revel in the mesmerising growl of the engine.

I ended up spending over a fiver just driving through the Tyne Tunnel purely and simply to listen to that wonderful sound. This is a ridiculously comfy convertible. A fantastic sports car.

You hear people use expressions like ‘It cornered as if it were on rails.’ Well it does! There is no fear of the rear end kicking out when cornering.

You feel as if all four tyres are sharing the responsibility of making the ride as comfortable as possible.

The PDK clutch system makes the gear changes so smooth that there is absolutely no lag whatsoever. Everything about this car is quick. It responds to everything in an instant.

There are practicalities about this car. You can actually get quite a lot in the front luggage space. Something my wife was quick to point out after an enforced visit to the supermarket, the kids can fit in the back (so long as the driver is shorter than me) and I’m led to believe that it is very efficient on fuel.

Overall, I loved road testing this car. The weather was absolutely atrocious, but I enjoyed the search for that elusive patch of blue sky.

When I found it, it was roof down and on with the sun glasses. When it rained, the roof was reluctantly reinstated but the driving experience suffered no impairment.

A thoroughly enjoyable experience that, maybe one day, I’ll be able to repeat.

The Porsche 911 Carrera 2s (991) with the PDK gear box that Nick test drove was supplied by Porsche Centre Newcastle, Silverlink Park, Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE28 9ND, Tel: 0191 295 1234, www.porsche.co.uk/newcastle The Porsche 911 Carrera S starting price is £81,242 + Road Tax.

With thanks to the Tanfield Railway (www.tanfield-railway.co.uk).