No car has a closer link to its past than the Porsche 911 series. It’s been front and centre, in one form or another, for 50 years.
And despite numerous engineering updates and redesigns, it still has a horizontally-opposed engine hanging out the back for power.
In 2009, the 911 was on the receiving end of a freshening up. Available as a hardtop or Cabriolet, it featured more power, a revised all-wheel drive system and double clutch transmission, plus various interior and exterior tweaks.
As usual, it still had a liquid-cooled, six-cylinder powerplant and remained one of the most enjoyable cars to drive.
In the non-turbocharged Cabriolet Carrera 4 model, it developed 345 horsepower. This legendary engine was mated to your choice of a conventional six-speed manual stick or Porsche’s newest incarnation of the Doppelkupplung seven-speed sequential shifter. This arrangement, more commonly referred to as the PDK, basically allowed the driver to shift gears manually via the floor shifter or through a pair of steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. Or you could just leave it in fully automatic mode.
Interestingly, the automatic 911 has traditionally outsold its manual-transmission counterpart by a substantial margin, in North America and Europe.
Available in two versions, the ’09 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, meanwhile, was one of at least five 911 soft-top models offered by the company this year. You could choose the regular Carrera 4 Cabriolet or the S version, which had 40 more horsepower and various extras. Both models came with full-time all-wheel-drive, with traction control and drivetrain stability systems.
The Carrera 4 Cabriolet’s power top deployed in about 20 seconds. There are no tabs to unlock or levers to pry loose. Just lift up on the console-mounted button and presto. Once folded down, the top stashed itself neatly under a hard tonneau cover, and there was a small amount of storage room under the front hood – some 105 litres in total. Stowage space has never been one of the 911’s stronger points, but you could carry a loaf or two of bread up front, and this model did have a small back seat, with enough room for a pet or very small humans.
As ever, this vintage of Porsche still utilized an ignition key located on the left side of the dashboard. Depending who you talk to, this idiosyncrasy either goes back to Porsche’s early LeMans race days, when drivers had to sprint to the car and get underway as quickly as possible, or is just a case of expediency. Either way, it’s unique and a nice touch.
In terms of performance, the 2009 Carrera 4 effortlessly accelerates from a standing start to 100 km/h in just over five seconds, with a top speed of about 285 km/h.
There are no safety recalls to report for this vintage of 911, either from Transport Canada or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. The latter organization does have two technical service bulletins on file for the ’09 Carrera 4 Cabriolet, however. One is pretty trivial: instructions on how to read the vehicle identification number (VIN). The other concerns a possible problem with the exhaust system on high-mileage examples of this car: the mufflers can crack and leak.
Consumer Reports had mixed feelings about this one. It got failing grades for its electrical system, brakes, transmission and “body hardware,” but rated an average used car prediction and, conceded CR, it’s fun to drive.
Some comments from owners: “a great piece of history,” “this 911 would be flawless if Porsche would spend a few bucks on the interior,” and “shifting with the PDK transmission is smooth and extremely fast.”
One note here: CR tested the hardtop coupe version of the 911 but since both models share components, its observations are still valid.
Marketing researcher J.D. Power, meanwhile, liked this one. It received an above-average rating for predicted reliability and in virtually every area, garnered top grades. There seemed to be some reservations about the powertrain quality from J.D. Power but otherwise, it was all good.
Unsurprisingly, this most desirable of Porsches has held its value well. You’ll be lucky to find anything under $50,000 and well-preserved, low-mileage models are in the $75,000-to-$85,000 range. Interestingly, the Cabriolet seems to be less desirable among cognoscenti.
2009 Porsche 911 Carrera 4
Original base price: $115,000
Engine: Normally-aspirated 3.6-litre horizontally-opposed six cylinder
Horsepower/torque: 345 hp/287 feet pounds
Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 11.5 city litres/100 km, 7.6 highway (automatic transmission), with premium gas
Alternatives: Audi S4, BMW Z4, Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette, Mercedes SL.
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).