The new Porsche 911 Carrera is a thing of beauty, writes Edward Stephens.

There’s no mistaking the beautifully sleek lines of a Porsche 911 Carrera.

Whether it’s a 2012 model or one from 10 years ago, the superb silhouette can be recognised anywhere, which is one of the reasons why it’s been retained for so long.

But while the current model may look like its older relatives, the shape has been evolving over time – and the latest one seems to have reached perfection.

The Cabriolet in particular looks stunning. So stunning that in the week I was driving a particularly appealing one in Guards Red I was approached numerous times by people anxious for a closer look.

The familiar athletic appearance of the car with its trademark wide-arched wings has now been made even more dynamic thanks to a longer wheelbase and reduced height.

Clever design work means that when the hood on the Cabriolet is raised the iconic 911 roof line is entirely retained.

From the rear the body flows seamlessly into that now elongated hood without any deviation in direction.

Changes to the sporting interior mean the new Cabriolet now incorporates features from the Carrera GT, with the high mounted gear lever now closer to the steering wheel in typical motorsport fashion.

On the other hand classic Porsche features have been retained, like aluminium pedals and the five round dials set in a sporting binnacle dominated by the large centre-mounted rev counter.

This latest 911 is powered by a 3.4-litre V6, developing 350bhp. But the most surprising feature for me was the manual gearbox, which now comes with seven gears – a world first.

On the road the engine is superbly flexible, with sixth gear easily attainable at less than 30 miles per hour. And even in seventh you can drop down to the mid thirties in traffic and pull away again easily without having to change down.

Perhaps that – and the fact that the car now employs a stop-start system and has an all-new lighter body with more use of aluminium-steel composite – explains why, for a lot of mixed road driving, I was easily getting 32- 34 mpg.

Usefully there is a dashboard indicator showing what gear you are in at any time, although you can only change into seventh from fifth or sixth.

Comfort features on the car include the automatic sliding back of the driver’s seat and simultaneous raising of the steering wheel to allow easy egress, with the reverse as you get in to the car and turn the ignition key.

And what’s great about this drop top is that you can lower and higher the solid-panelled hood on the move, at least at speeds of up to 31 mph that is. The operation is poetry in motion, with the all-new hood – which uses magnesium in the frame for lightness – taking just 13 seconds to complete the movement.

Push a button on the transmission tunnel and a built-in wind deflector now automatically moves into place behind your head so you are not blown around too much at speed.

My test car was fitted with an optional sports exhaust system – again actioned by a button on the transmission tunnel – which was designed to optimise the sound.

At £1,772 it’s an expensive extra, but the sound it created made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and was worth every penny.

On the negative side there is a blind spot caused by each of the wide hood panels between the side windows and the rear screen, the two rear seats are really only suitable for children or maybe one adult at a push, and the 911 does have a noticeable amount of road noise on certain motorway surfaces.

But this is such a stunning looking car, handles so well and is so rewarding to drive you tend to ignore any glitches.

And let’s face it. If you have enough money and taste to own a 911 Carrera Cabriolet, you know you have arrived, which is another good reason for buying one – should you need to justify it.

Fast Facts

Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

Price: £79,947

Mechanical: 3436cc, 350 bhp 6 cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 7spd manual gearbox.

Max speed: 178 mph

0-62mph: 5.0 secs

Combined mpg: 30.1

Insurance group: 49

CO2 emissions: 217 g/km

Warranty: Three years/unlimited mileage