Personally, I like convertibles. A lot of enthusiasts are very anti-vert, feeling that dropping the top somehow ruins your enthusiast street cred. I feel otherwise, however, as losing the roof only increases and enhances the experience of driving a sport car. Two cars that drive that idea home excellently are the E46 BMW M3 Convertible and the 996.2-generation Porsche 911 Cabriolet, two cars that go head to head in this new comparison test from WhichCar.Au.
What’s interesting is that both of these cars are probably in their least likable specification. Both are not only convertibles but they both use their automatic gearboxes, so it’s the infamous SMG for the M3 and the PDK for the Porsche. To make matters even less enthusiastic for the Porsche, it’s all-wheel drive. Nevertheless, these are incredibly fun cars.
They both also have six-cylinder engines. The E36 BMW M3 gets a 3.2 liter inline-six, with 333 hp, and the Porsche 911 gets a 3.6 liter flat-six, making 315 hp. So the Bimmer is actually more powerful, depsite being the smaller engine. But which one is best?
Honestly, it’s the Porsche 911 Cabriolet. It’s the sharper car, the more exciting car to drive, the one with the better steering and the better chassis dynamics. The E36 M3 ‘Vert is great fun to drive, and might even have the better engine, but its chassis isn’t as sharp and it feels a bit more disjointed, especially over rough bumps. The 911 feels like the tighter, lighter and more connected car.
Any enthusiast would be happy with either of these cars, if we’re being honest. They’re both superb sporty convertibles that can be had for decent money nowadays, even if the 911 was the more expensive car by far at the time. They both offer great thrills, exciting dynamics and sensational engines with top-down experiences. But the Porsche 911 is better. Isn’t it always, though?