New Porsche 911 Speedster is a fabulous last hurrah for the 991-generation 911Verdict5This last-of-the-line 991-generation Porsche 911 Speedster is one of the best, blending the sensational performance of the outgoing GT3 with a chassis that’s brilliantly in tune with the road. Very few experiences compare with driving a naturally aspirated car that has such a sweet manual gearbox – a set-up that’s becoming rarer by the day. With this latest Speedster, not only has Porsche created a great 911, it’s also managed to produce one of the finest sports cars of a generation.
There are a few things you need to know about the new Porsche 911 Speedster. Number one is that it’s not a brand-new 911 like the 992 we drove earlier this year; instead, it’s the last of the 991-generation of 911s. Number two, only 1,948 examples will be produced, marking the year the first Porsche – the Roadster Nr1 – was built. Three, they are all sold out. Sorry.
But if you’re lucky enough to have put down a deposit, we’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy it. This last hurrah for all things 991 is a gem of a sign-off, primarily because it has been created by the company’s GT department. No disrespect to those who slave away developing Carreras, Boxsters, Caymans and the like, but the GT cars have always been that little bit more special. And the Speedster is no different.
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Conceived in 2013 as an internal project to investigate what an open-top 911 GT3 could look like, the Speedster was soon earmarked as the car Porsche would launch to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2017.
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This sixth-generation Speedster (the fifth based on the 911) is produced from two 911s: the last 991 GT3 and the same era of Carrera Cabriolet. The former donates its front end, the latter its tail. That means the body loses about 20 per cent of its rigidity compared with a GT3 coupé, but it’s still a fair chunk stiffer than a Carrera Cabrio. It’s also lighter, thanks to the use of carbon fibre on the bonnet, wings and engine.
The roof, like another core component of the car that we’ll get to in a moment, requires some manual intervention. You can’t just press a button and wait. Instead, you have to flick a switch in the centre console, get out of the car and lift the 10kg rear deck out of the way, then manually fold the roof into the opening provided before closing the deck. It’s not as fiddly as a Boxster Spyder’s roof, but some precious open-top driving enthusiasts may grumble.
After experiencing the latest 992-generation 911, it feels a little strange to be in a ‘new’ 911 surrounded by old fixtures and fittings. The lack of screens is a stark reminder of how quickly cars evolve. There’s not even an infotainment system in the Speedster – only an open cubbyhole with two shelves (you also get a storage area behind both seats where the rear seats would have been). But that really doesn’t matter, because there is a manual gearbox and a 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine to entertain you. That’s the same unit as in a 911 Carrera Cup race car.
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A new injection system and throttle valve set-up have liberated an extra 10bhp, lifting power to 503bhp. The new exhaust is 10kg lighter, despite the fitment of particulate filters, and unlike in the GT3, there’s a dual-mass flywheel, too, which removes the chunter and clatter at tickover.
In those first few moments you notice three key things. The lower windscreen doesn’t hamper forward vision one bit. Imperfections in the road don’t generate a single degree of flex through the body, either. Oh, and driving a car with a manual box and a naturally aspirated engine is still near-impossible to beat.
Over those first few miles, your senses suggest the Speedster’s six speeds are very short, so frequently are you changing gear, but the tacho tells you otherwise.
The engine comes on song at just above 3,000rpm, and by 6,000rpm your instincts tell you it’s time to change up, so you do.
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Then you realise your mistake, because things are only getting going. This engine revs to nearly 9,000rpm, forcing you to hold the gear and enjoy the moment of a pure race-bred engine catapulting you on a journey of engineering brilliance. It’s addictive, and with the roof down you can revel in that pure-911 soundtrack, too.
Combined with its sublime gearshift and direct steering that matches speed with precision, the chassis – lifted wholesale from the GT3 – is more supple, allowing you to enjoy more of its talents on the road at very little cost to outright performance.
In the Speedster, you have one of the finest open-top Porsches since the Carrera GT – and yet another legend in the making.
- Model: Porsche 911 Speedster
- Price: £211,599
- Engine: 4.0-litre 6cyl petrol
- Power/torque: 503bhp/470Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 4.0 seconds
- Top speed: 192mph
- Economy/CO2: 20.6mpg/317g/km
- On sale: Sold out
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