This is Porsche’s new 911 Speedster, a limited-edition special that pays tribute to the original 356 Speedster. It’s also an open-top follow up to last year’s 911 Sport Classic, a 25th birthday present for Porsche Exclusive (the arm of Porsche that created the Sport Classic and Speedster) and a final hurrah for the current 997-generation 911. More powerful with a unique body and roof, it’ll set you back over £140k – read on for CAR’s verdict on the new Porsche 911 Speedster.
How has Porsche turned a 911 Cabriolet into a 911 Speedster?
Let’s start at the very front, where the nose gains the bumper first seen on the equally expensive 911 Sport Classic. Next you’ll come to the black Fuchs alloys, also pinched from the Sport Classic, and they shroud the standard-fit carbon-ceramic brakes. There’s some black trim detailing just ahead of the rear wheels too, the bodywork bulges out an extra 44mm at the back with the haunches from a four-wheel drive 911, and at the rear there is again the same bumper used on the Sport Classic.
But it’s the changes above the waistline that are the important ones. For a start the windscreen is 60mm lower, and by now you will have noticed the double-bubble bump, which hides the manual roof. Gone are the heavy electric motors (and the back seats) in place of a DIY hood. Strangely you still need to hold down a button in the cabin so the electrics can lift the rear deck up a few millimetres, but then you take over, haul up the bodywork and fold the hood into place. Despite the process being 15 steps long, clipping the roof in place is not complex – it takes barely a minute, and it’s still a proper, thick fabric hood, rather than the tent you’ll find on the Boxster Spyder.
What you can’t see are the lighter aluminium doors from the GT3, plus an engine upgrade, which lifts peak power from 380bhp at 6500rpm to 402bhp at 7300rpm. The peak torque figures remains at 310lb ft, but it’s produced 200rpm lower than before. Part of the package is a louder (but non-switchable) sports exhaust, so you always get to hear the flat six in full war cry mode.
All in the Speedster weighs 1540kg, the same as a PDK-equipped Carrera S Cabriolet (blame all options for the weight), but the extra power means it’ll hit 62mph in 4.4 rather than the 4.5 seconds of a similar Sport Chrono Plus-spec Carrera S Cabriolet. It’s 4mph faster flat out too, with a 190mph top speed, but returns the same 27.4mpg and 242g/km CO2.
Inside you’ll find Porsche has courteously ticked every options box, so as well as sat-nav and PDK (with proper paddles, not crap buttons) there’s leather on everything from the air vents, door handles and on the hooks on the back of the seats. But it just doesn’t feel that special inside: the leather is over the top and doesn’t really lift the cabin, the blue trim looks like plasticine, and the rally-style blue ring on the steering wheel is tacky. Thankfully the chequered flag graphics, which run up to your crotch when you’re seated, are a no-cost delete option.
In total just 356 cars will be built – a homage to the 356 Speedster – and each one will cost £144,100. A lot? Not really, not when you consider that the extra cost of engineering (including unique-to-the-Speedster pop-up roll bars) and crash testing has to be split between such a small run of cars. The colour, a rather strong hue called Pure Blue, will only be available on the Speedster, but you can have white instead if you want.
So how does the 911 Speedster feel from behind the wheel?
Not very impressive. For a start, personally, I don’t think it looks that great, and the nose especially seems to sit too high. And conversely, with the lower windscreen and lack of a wind deflector, there’s loads of buffeting so conversations about 60mph are almost impossible – I drove a GTS Cabriolet the same day, and with the windows up and wind deflector in place it was perfectly civil.
Okay, so maybe it’s meant to be driven hard, and the spec is pretty focussed: the track is 6mm wider at the front, 34mm wider at the back, the suspension has been changed accordingly, there’s a locking diff, and the extra power. But straight away you notice that the steering of this convertible doesn’t have the clarity and feedback of a regular hardtop 911, and although the PDK ‘box will shift seamlessly, without the punch of a Turbo engine it’s not an engaging transmission. Plus the paddles themselves are, well, just a bit flappy and lacking the lovely control weighting that is usually present on every Porsche.
It is by no means a bad car, and it’s still precise and quick and shrinks around you, but it’s also everything else that a regular 911 Cabriolet is, and the Speedster tweaks don’t hold any appeal to yours truly.
The problem with cars like these is that you and me will try and rationalise them, and work out that an £83,493 Carrera GTS Cabriolet is just a powerful, pretty much the same to drive, yet costs £60k less. And the infinitely faster Turbo S cabriolet is £130,791. A Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder is just ten grand more too, much more exciting and much more of an event.
Speedster customers won’t care, will have numerous others cars, and just add this latest Porsche to their collection. But the original 356 Speedster was lighter, cheaper, and better to drive – this one is anything but. Porsche will sell every one – has sold every one – but that doesn’t mean it’s a particularly good car or one we should celebrate.
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