► The fifth double-bubble
► 1948 models being made
► A Porsche 991.2, not a 992
Porsche’s fifth Speedster, and its fourth based on the 911, is a 70th birthday present to itself. More correctly, a present to 1948 customers, this celebration model in the best tradition of Porsche specials and being built in limited numbers.
It’s a bit late, because Porsche’s engineers – like the rest of the industry – have been a bit preoccupied with emissions recently.
Urm, it’s a 991, right?
We’re familiar now with the latest Porsche 992, but this Speedster is a last hurrah for the old 991 generation of 911-kind. It’s been rumoured for years, GT director Andreas Preuninger admitting on the launch it was shown to a select few customers alongside the then-still-secret 911 R. That was back in 2014.
It’s the 911 R’s open relation, really, sharing a lot with the even more limited-series 911, which Porsche built just 991 examples of.
Tell us more about the new 911 Speedster…
Time’s moved on since that R, so while the Speedster borrows elements from it – carbonfibre front wings and bonnet, its six-speed manual transmission and suspension from the GT3 – it’s had to evolve for the environment it now finds itself in.
Specifically relating to its engine, the GT department having found a way to get its incredible, high-revving naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six through the latest emissions and noise regulations.
So it’s not turbocharged?
Absolutely not, and while nobody’s saying so officially, this is essentially the engine that’ll power the forthcoming 992-based GT3. There are new individual throttles, a higher-pressure injection system and an exhaust that uses a clever bonding technique and thinner metals to allow it to weigh in at 10kg less than the GT3’s exhaust. They’ve managed that despite the addition of a pair of mandatory particulate filters. That’s engineering alchemy, the GT department not stopping there, upping the power at the same time to 510bhp.
Is the new 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster still as intense?
More so, we’d say. Yes there’s a change in the note from that new exhaust, it’s more cultured, less rough and ready and having a metallic shriek as it chases its 9000rpm maximum, that’s, dare we say it, a bit Italian in its tone.
It’s better heard with the simple rood dropped and stowed under the massive carbonfibre cover which, in conjunction with the typical dropped and slightly raked Speedster screen, gives the 911 a more lithe look than ever before.
It doesn’t just look different outside, but it feels it inside too. Snugly situated in the bucket seats, that windscreen, the sky above and the proximity of the rear clamshell over your shoulder changes how it feels in there. The interior feels a bit more purposeful, more focused, but familiar at the same time, which, given the 991’s been around so long isn’t surprising. It’s pleasingly so, the simple instrumentation, the lack of digital screens – particularly if you opt for no PCM and climate control to save weight – make it all feel a bit old-school.
But is it fast?
Oh, hell, yes. More crucially the Speedster feels quick, even if Preuninger admits it’s not all about laptimes. It’s more about driving, and here it delivers, with mesmerising cross-country pace. The manual transmission is as precise and quick as they come, being an absolute joy to use.
You can heel-and-toe yourself, but press the Auto Blip button and it’ll rev-match better than you can. The brakes, standard PCCB, are as effective as ever, but it’s the sheer joy of the feel and feedback that make the Speedster stand out, even from the exquisite 911 R.
The steering is utterly uncorrupted by it being roofless, the suspension providing superb body and wheel control, riding well even on rougher surfaces on the Sardinian launch route. The sun out helped, obviously, but the Speedster is an engaging, visceral hit that’s arguably as appealing, if not more so than any GT product before it. Yes, we just said that.
There are shades of Carrera GT in its intensity. Indeed, you’d need a wheelman of Rohrl’s skills to keep up with a well-driven Speedster. If you like driving, you’ll love the Speedster.
Verdict: right, I want one…
You can’t have one, because they’ll all have been snapped up. If we could have one (and we’d love one) we’d do without the Heritage Design pack, or at least do without the ‘spears’ and painted front bumper and numbers, as it’s all a little bit overt. At £15,302 it’s not cheap, either, though the gold Speedster badges and cognac and black interior is cool.
If you’ve got an allocation you’ll not care, and you’ll also be aware of the £211,599 price tag. Birthday presents are meant to be indulgent though, and with the Speedster Porsche has really delivered.
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