What would you do if you had a Porsche convertible for a single day – phone a friend and go out for a rip, right? Would you spend the...

What would you do if you had a Porsche convertible for a single day – phone a friend and go out for a rip, right? Would you spend the time driving, or tweeting and Instagramming photos to make all your friends jealous? Is it more important to have the experience, or to capture and broadcast it?

It all boils down to the question, “What is real?” Well, this conversation is real. And this landscape is real. And this road is real.

Halfway up to Whistler, this is the conversation I'm having with my good friend John, whom I have known for (gulp!) close to two decades. He's a high school administrator and has four kids of his own, so he thinks a great deal about the modern consumption of technology, and what it means for education and growing minds. The insidious nature of this stuff is on my mind too, what with the constant electronic pressure of the freelance life and a young growing family at home.

It all boils down to the question, “What is real?” Well, this conversation is real. And this landscape is real. And this road is real.

Drop two gears and the Porsche's flat-six double-whaps as the first hairpins past Pemberton hove into sight. Behind us is digital cacophony. Ahead, there is only room for the flow of the tarmac and the fury of the 911. This isn't a car – this is an escape pod.

On my right wrist, I wear a manual-wind mechanical watch. To some of you, this immediately marks me out as an idiot. Mechanical watches are expensive, more jewellery than functionality – I have a friend who flies B-52s for a living, and he wears a digital watch because he actually needs precision and accuracy from his timepiece.

However, there's something comfortingly durable and solid about the weight of the metal. I bought it when my daughter was born, and since then have infused it with memories and covered it in scuffs. As I'm a leftie and wear watches on my right hand, I've had it on when I've shaken hands with Mario Andretti, Walter Wolf, Peter Bell. I've worn it while covering Le Mans, F1, WRC, and the Indy 500. I've banged it against the wall while leaping to prevent my daughter from grabbing something off a countertop, and watched her hold it to her ear and listen as the seconds of our lives ticked away.

An air-cooled Porsche is a lot like a mechanical watch. The modern 911 is more like the Apple Watch – slick, packed with tech, lets people know you're well-to-do and cutting edge, works far better than any relic. The only real problem I have with either is the vast expense and the programmed obsolescence. Someone will pay to keep the collectible limited editions on the road, but once the electronic guts of this red beast start getting a bit cranky, that's it. Game over.

However, there are few better machines for living in the instant than a 911 convertible with 430 hp. I'll spare you the entire spec-list – which stretches to fifty close-packed lines – but this particular version is the GTS, the highest-spec naturally aspirated drop-top neunelfer you can get.

It has all-wheel drive, the PDK seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, more aggressive aerodynamics than the base 911, black-painted accents here and there, and 20-inch Turbo-style centre-lock rims. For these last (I hope you're sitting down) Porsche charges $0 extra. When you see the hilariously large options bill at the end of this review, you'll understand why that's such a surprise.

When the 991-series 911 first came along, I was a bit bemused. Capability was up, connection was down. The old one was noisier and slower, but it also had more lively steering, and was a more soul-stirring drive. The 991 could blow the 997 into the weeds, of course, but so could a Corvette Z06. Wasn't the driving experience of a Porsche at the forefront?

However, I've since discovered what you have to do to these cars to make them interesting: cut the roof off. Ordinarily, I can't stand coupes that have had a sheetmetal haircut, as they tend to be worse than the original; or, in the case of the current BMW M4, much, much heavier.

But here the open-air 911, either Targa or Cabriolet, delivers back a sensation of speed without losing a jot of on-street panache. With the top down, I dive into the first corner and uncork the flat-six to yowl in rage, a high-pitched whine coming on song at the top end of the rev range.

What follows is a day like no other. The 911 isn't the last word in speed – in fact, I drove a heavily modified Golf earlier in the week that absolutely lambasted this thing – but it has been honed and honed and honed again until it is expert at delivering the experience you expect. It widens your eyes in the turns, has your back if you do something silly, punches you in the gut with the gs and shakes your hand at the same time.

But it also has flow. The older I get, the less I look for absolute speed, and the more I think about rhythm. A car that can pin your hair back and set your hair on fire is great fun, of course, but rarer still is a car that provides that same level of joy at a more relaxed pace. In a coupe version of the 911, I feel slightly bored unless I'm at the track, on maximum attack, but in the cabriolet there's the wind and the sound and the amazing scenery to drink in.

And it is amazing today, jaw-dropping, eye-bugging. British Columbia is a beautiful province when she has half a mind to be and today she's draped her mountains in fresh snow and rinsed her air clean with earlier rains. The sun lights up the valleys with a brilliance and beauty that's almost painful to the heart. In the 911, the mountain air whips 'round our ears and supercharges our lungs, the smell of the forest, the hum of the engine, a little classic Tragically Hip from our college years on the stereo at barely audible levels.

It's the kind of day you'd e-brag about, sure, but also a fixed moment in time that John and I will reminisce over a couple years from now. Probably prefaced by much, “Dude! Remember?” “Dude!”

We get out to take a few more pictures, and my cell phone reads “No Service,” as it has done for the last fifty kilometres. At the back of my mind, I've a nagging suspicion. John's not on Facebook, so we feel the need to get together like this a couple of times a year to keep our friendship intact. If he was on there, liking posts every couple of days, might I be fooled into thinking we were still connected? Might I have just run this road on my own? It'd have been far easier to organize than the planning revolving around making sure he could get the day free at the same time I could. We both live busy lives, and the scheduling is tricky.

If so, maybe I'd have thrown a few of the choicest pics up, and he'd have commented something like, “That looks awesome- we should get together sometime!” and I'd have 'liked' his comment, and we'd have gone on living our full and increasingly distant lives.

Instead, we had a full day of conversation and open-air motoring, shared experience and straight talk. Kids and wives and parents and work. Life. The hopeful future. The gong-show past. Just out for a rip, are ya bud? Effin' right, we are bud – but it's more than that.

Back home, I wrestle a car seat into the back of the 911, strap my daughter in, and go out for a much slower roll. There's a red Playmobil 911 tucked in the 911's front trunk as a present for her in a month or so. Along the morning's route, we stopped to take pictures of the real car and its mini-me version, and I'll blow one of them up and put it up on her wall.

We cruise the neighbourhood slow in the shining sun, and my kid laughs and laughs. “What happens when you stick your hands up?” I ask. “It tickles!” she shouts in delight, and raises both of them over her head.

Aha. This is it. This is the thing you can't do in a Cayman or Boxster or Corvette for less than half the money. The 911 Cabriolet might be crazy-expensive and destined for consumption rather than preservation, but it is still capable of delivering a real moment.

“Did you buy this car, Papa?”

Uh no. But hell, maybe that's the other lesson here too. Was this day special because of the car, or because of the company? A little of both, surely, but as nice as a thing is, it's still only a thing. The realness of this memory – that's what'll stay with me. 

Warranty:
4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 12 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km 24-hour roadside assistance

Competitors:
Audi RS5 Cabriolet
BMW M3 Cabriolet
Chevy Corvette Z06 convertible

Specifications

Model Tested 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet GTS   Destination Fee $1,375
Base Price $151,500   Price as Tested $179,030
A/C Tax $100  
Optional Equipment
Pricing: Base Price 911 Cabriolet: $3,590; Leather and Alcantara interior – $4,400; GTS logo package - $4,710; PDK dual-clutch - $5,530; Park assist - $1,190; painted key - $385; Sport seats - $3,460; Premium pkg - $370; Bose audio - $2,420)