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2004 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S CabrioletEnlarge Photo
Porsche’s new Carrera 4S Cabriolet, which will go on sale in the U.S. in late September at a price of $93,200 plus tax, offers 320 horsepower, the wide rear body styling that says performance in Porsche-speak – and the opportunity to raise or lower the top while traveling at up to 30 mph.
Other convertibles require that the car be stationary, often with the gearbox in neutral and the parking brake on, before the top can be operated. Porsche, which introduced the feature on its 2003 convertibles, sees the ability to open or close on the fly as a major selling point and reckons it will sell over 3500 of the convertible version of its most expensive four-wheel drive 911 per year. The top assembly is made by CTS (Car Top Systems), a company jointly owned by Porsche and DaimlerChrysler. CTS supplies convertible tops not only to the two parents but also to other manufacturers, so the system is likely to appear on other models in the future.
The 4S is the latest iteration of Porsche’s all-wheel-drive product line, and although it has all the classic attributes of the marque, the ability to operate the top while on the move is likely to be one of the features most appreciated by drivers. Being able to close the top when a shower comes merely by dropping the speed below 30 mph and pressing a switch is a big advantage compared with other convertibles, where it is necessary to find a suitable place to pull off the road and stop. Drivers brought up on English sports cars of thirty years ago, in which the top was made up of a canvas cover and a metal-tube frame that did not even fold but had to be assembled, like a pup tent, will view the Porsche top with incredulity.