Drop-top Porsche 911 drop-dead desirable

If you want fun in the sun this summer, Porsche's 911 Convertible has real posing power, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

Engines – Unsurprisingly it's petrol power all the way for the drop-top 911. Just like its tin-top cousin, the Cabriolet variant can be had with 3.6 and 3.8-litre, six-cylinder motors. Power hits the mid 300 horsepower range, and Porsche's PDK semi-auto gearbox has proven to be a popular optional extra since its introduction.

Exterior – It's a popular topic of discussion, but the reason one generation of 911 looks very much like the previous one is because it works. It's also a familiar shape, and one that, if changed radically, wouldn't be a 911 anymore. As such, the gently-evolving 911 shape is here to stay.

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Interior – Unlike the exterior, a 911's interior is prone to an overhaul every once in a while. With its logically laid-out controls and displays – it wasn't always like this – and high levels of build quality, the surprisingly spacious 911 cabin proves to be a comfortable environment for two adults.

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Driving – What can you say about the 911 that hasn't already been said? Purists will say that a basic model is more rewarding than a high-power four-wheel drive variant, while pragmatists will state that the extra grip of the latter makes the 911 a great all-weather sports car. Either way you won't be disappointed, as Porsche's flagship drop-top boasts a versatility that's unmatched in its market sector.

Ownership – As a daily drive the 911 is more versatile and easier to live with than many similarly-priced alternatives. There's enough load space in the nose for a short driving holiday and it's a docile beast around town. Servicing costs are reasonable for something with this much performance potential, but tyres, fuel and insurance will be your main outlays.

What to look for – Used-and-abused examples are a sign that the previous owner couldn't really afford to run the car and it's wise to look elsewhere. The same is true if there's evidence of parking dents and general cosmetic neglect. A detailed service history is essential, although it can come from a respected independent garage. Everything should work and the cabin must be in top condition – anything less and it could prove costly to repair. Of equal priority is the test-drive – sample a few so you know what to look for before making your final choice.

Model history – 2005, Porsche launches a new convertible version of its popular '997' variant 911 model. Two engine options with different power outputs offered, along with an optional semi-auto PDK gearbox. Modest equipment levels are boosted by an extensive list of cost options.

Reasons to buy – Brand image, heritage, performance, versatility, ease of use, retractable roof, looks.

Reasons to beware – Used-and-abused examples, running costs, image, modest luggage space.

Pick of the range – 911 Carrera 2 3.6.

What to pay – 2005 05 �30,000; 2006 06 �33,500; 2007 07 �36,975; 2008 08 �40,625. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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