The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet is a dream come true

Appearance: Even though the 911's silhouette hasn't changed much in decades, the turbo version has a more squat and muscular profile, thanks to the large air intakes behind each door, the adjustable rear spoiler and the ground effects.

Performance: Lyra didn't like the 480-horsepower convertible at first. She fought the springy clutch and dreaded every red light. But after some time, she and the car hit it off. Peter also found that time behind the wheel made one's ease with the six-speed gear box grow. The acceleration (0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds) is enough to panic your passengers, but the delivery is smooth and stable, thanks to the 911's wide tires, all-wheel drive and its adjustable suspension settings (normal and sport). All that also makes for superb cornering. The ride is surprisingly quiet and comfortable, with only a muffled engine noise to remind you of the 6-cylinder's twin turbochargers.

Interior: The white gauge clusters and leather-stitched interior make for an appealing and comfortable cockpit. There is a memory function for the seats, which are firm and need to be. The tipoff that this isn't your average car: There is a stopwatch on the dash and the speedometer goes up to 225. There are two cup holders that ingeniously fold into the dash. Not so smart: They block the vents when extended. If you have the AC on, your Starbucks is going to cool down faster. The rear seats fold down for limited storage area. But make sure items are secure so they don't fly away. There is good headroom with the fabric convertible top, which quickly retracts into the trunk. Lyra found the steering wheel a bit wimpy for a high-performance sports car. As for the back "seats," this is considered a 2+2, but there's not enough room for average-sized passengers. Even Peter's 11-year-old was cramped. (Don't even think about trying to fit a booster seat in the back.)

Spouse factor: Lyra's non-car-guy husband loved it. Peter's wife, not so much.

Watch out! The front spoiler is low to the ground and doesn't like dips or driveways. The dual exhaust tips protrude from the rear and get really HOT.

The bottom line: This is a car for the driving enthusiast who has someplace to safely put it through its paces or has lots of money to spend on toys and/or speeding tickets.

We interrupt this week's column for pure fantasy. Namely, the Porsche 911 Turbo. The 911 is an automotive icon, of course, and this model shouldn't do anything to tarnish that legacy. Is it a Daily Driver? Only if your commute involves miles of twisting roads unspoiled by fellow motorists or radar detectors. Hey, we can all daydream, right?

Appearance: Even though the 911's silhouette hasn't changed much in decades, the turbo version has a more squat and muscular profile, thanks to the large air intakes behind each door, the adjustable rear spoiler and the ground effects.

Performance: Lyra didn't like the 480-horsepower convertible at first. She fought the springy clutch and dreaded every red light. But after some time, she and the car hit it off. Peter also found that time behind the wheel made one's ease with the six-speed gear box grow. The acceleration (0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds) is enough to panic your passengers, but the delivery is smooth and stable, thanks to the 911's wide tires, all-wheel drive and its adjustable suspension settings (normal and sport). All that also makes for superb cornering. The ride is surprisingly quiet and comfortable, with only a muffled engine noise to remind you of the 6-cylinder's twin turbochargers.

Interior: The white gauge clusters and leather-stitched interior make for an appealing and comfortable cockpit. There is a memory function for the seats, which are firm and need to be. The tipoff that this isn't your average car: There is a stopwatch on the dash and the speedometer goes up to 225. There are two cup holders that ingeniously fold into the dash. Not so smart: They block the vents when extended. If you have the AC on, your Starbucks is going to cool down faster. The rear seats fold down for limited storage area. But make sure items are secure so they don't fly away. There is good headroom with the fabric convertible top, which quickly retracts into the trunk. Lyra found the steering wheel a bit wimpy for a high-performance sports car. As for the back "seats," this is considered a 2+2, but there's not enough room for average-sized passengers. Even Peter's 11-year-old was cramped. (Don't even think about trying to fit a booster seat in the back.)

Spouse factor: Lyra's non-car-guy husband loved it. Peter's wife, not so much.

Watch out! The front spoiler is low to the ground and doesn't like dips or driveways. The dual exhaust tips protrude from the rear and get really HOT.

Our favorites

Peter Couture

See ya! Lyra has only one this week, so I guess I'll follow suit. You know that guy who zips up behind your car on the interstate, then tailgates you before he passes? Has he got a surprise coming. Just grin in your rear-view mirror.

Lyra Solochek

Can't put a price on this: I drove over the Sunshine Skyway with my 6-year-old (in a booster seat with the air bag turned off). As we reached the crest, we looked at each other with a huge smile. It was a great bonding moment.

The bottom line: This is a car for the driving enthusiast who has someplace to safely put it through its paces or has lots of money to spend on toys and/or speeding tickets.

Our favorites

Can't put a price on this: I drove over the Sunshine Skyway with my 6-year-old (in a booster seat with the air bag turned off). As we reached the crest, we looked at each other with a huge smile. It was a great bonding moment.

See ya! Lyra has only one this week, so I guess I'll follow suit. You know that guy who zips up behind your car on the interstate, then tailgates you before he passes? Has he got a surprise coming. Just grin in your rear-view mirror.

Peter Couture

Lyra Solochek

2009 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

Price: $140,700 base, $149,555 as tested

Powertrain: 3.5-liter six-cylinder with twin turbochargers with variable turbine geometry and twin intercoolers. Six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive.

Horsepower: 480 at 6,000 rpm

Torque: 460 pound-feet at 1,950-5,000 rpm; overboost 516 at 2,100-4,000 rpm

Top speed: 194 mph (speedometer goes up to 225)

0-60: 3.6 seconds

Curb weight: 3,627 pounds

Fuel economy:

15 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway

Fuel type: Premium unleaded

Safety features: Side impact protection (including six air bags for front, thorax and head), high strength body shell.

Options worth considering: Seat ventilation, Bluetooth phone interface, satellite radio.

Web site: www.porsche.com/microsite/911turbo/usa.aspx

The Daily Drivers: Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet is a dream come true 10/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009 12:01pm]

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