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Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review

Published:20 April 2011

Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

Let’s clear one thing up right now before anyone makes a very incorrect assumption. Despite the presence of that evocative ducktail rear spoiler, retro Fuchs-style wheels and a bile-raising reference in the press material to the 911 Sport Classic being the grandson of the legendary 1973 Carrera RS 2.7, the two are distant cousins at best.

The Carrera RS was a homologation special with thin glass, no back seats or even a glovebox lid. It existed to help the 911 go racing and while it did have that spoiler (except in some countries, where it was banned), the vanes of its air-con vents were not individually wrapped in leather nor its coat hooks swathed in Alcantara. The Sport Classic’s are.

So what is the Porsche 911 Sport Classic?

This is a burger-with-everything 911. But let’s be clear about something else before anyone makes another incorrect assumption: the 911 Sport Classic is brilliant to drive. It’s more focused than the 911 Carrera S on which it’s based, more luxurious than the GT3 and RS, and far more exclusive than the Turbo. Porsche is building just 250 units and they’re all sold.

It’s also a rolling showcase for Porsche’s special branch, Exclusive, the side of the company that can build cars to a customer’s exact spec, funds permitting. Sewer brown paint and pink leather for your Cayenne sir? A fine choice. Thankfully the Sport Classic is slightly more tasteful. It’s essentially a two-wheel drive Carrera S but fitted with the Carrera 4’s wide-arch shell. And it’s plastered with nods to Porsche’s heritage: a double-bubble roof inspired by the Carrera GT, grey paint from a 356, 911 RSR-style black headlamp surrounds, and a stunning woven leather material for the doorcards and seat centres that echoes Porsche’s old houndstooth fabric. And who could forget the brown dashboard from a 1979 924?

What about mechanical differences?

The Sport Classic is not all about the pose. Those flared arches allow an even wider track for more stability and the doors are now aluminium to help peg the weight to the same 1425kg as the stock Carrera S. The PASM suspension with its adaptive dampers is retuned, making it firmer and dropping the car 20mm lower to the tarmac, and there’s a limited-slip differential too.

Under the bonnet is a 3.8 Carrera S engine equipped with a kit that takes power from 380bhp to 402bhp and adds a paltry 1lb ft of peak twist but fattens out the torque curve considerably. You can order it on a regular Carrera S for £8066 so it’s not exclusive (nor as special as the GT3’s same-capacity but very different motor), but it’s still a spectacular engine, strong on shove and sounding much more vocal than the standard one, which lost some of its bark when direct injection arrived.

The power kit mods (different heads, intake manifold, carbon airbox and sports exhaust) boost torque in the mid-range but it’s when the needle hits 6500rpm that this engine really wakes up, swinging round to 7500rpm before the limiter calls time. Zero to 62mph takes 4.6sec, a tenth less than the Carrera S needs, but 0.5sec adrift of the GT3’s best and nearly a whole second slower than the Turbo. The Sport Classic scores over both the GT3 and Turbo with its much lighter, sweeter gearshift but, like the GT3, comes only with a six-speed manual gearbox. PDK is not an option. In fact there are no options as far as I can work out. You even get a tailored car cover in recognition that this is a car that will more than likely be mothballed rather than driven hard.

But if I don't store it away and want to actually use my ultra-expensive 911?

Then it's one of the best driving 911s we’ve come across. Okay, so it doesn’t have the alertness or outright grip of the lighter Cup tyre-shod GT3, but it feels a cut above the ordinary Carreras, the steering more positive, precise, the traction greater thanks to that wider track and locking diff. You can slide the tail in the wet with provocation, but out of shape is not its natural bent. What it wants to do is deliver every nag to the back wheels as early in the exit of a corner as possible, then fire you up the road when other cars with more sensible weight distribution would be scrabbling for traction.

Transverse ridges and potholes it doesn’t like, but the upside is incredible body control. As with the regular PASM suspension, the Sport mode is too stiff for Britain, but the Comfort mode just tightens up that occasional whiff of the underdamped about the regular car while still letting the 911 glide over most surfaces in flowing movements rather than short, sharp ones. Pedal feel from the standard ceramic brakes is excellent but, like most 911s, tyre and high-speed wind noise sour its ability as a long-distance cruiser. It’s still a practical proposition, however. Child-friendly back seats make it among the more egalitarian of sports cars.

Verdict

The Sport Classic costs £140,049, more than double the price of the brilliant Carrera S on which it’s based, £58k more than a GT3, and around £30k more than the GT3 RS. Clearly someone at Porsche is having a joke. But do something for me. Go to the car configurator on the Porsche website and spec up an imaginary Carrera S with the Sport Chrono package, PCCB ceramic brakes, the power kit engine upgrade, full leather trim, fancy paint, big rims, some aluminium goodies, a hi-fi upgrade. Without really trying it’s amazing just how close to £100k you can get while not even venturing into Porsche’s Tequipment catalogue, and all for a car that is nothing more special than a gussied up Carrera S and will be crucified at resale time.

Then consider that Porsche had to tool up for the double-bubble roof and build six pre-production cars to gain full European type approval and that you’ll never see another on the road and you begin to see how that price came into being. That doesn’t make it good value, but it does seem less outrageous. If only the subsequent appearance of the wide-bodied and Powerkit-equipped Carrera GTS hadn't taken a bit more of the gloss off.

The good news for poseurs is that some of the styling details from this car – the Fuchs-style wheels, aero package and rear light clusters – will be making their way onto the regular Porsche options list. Sadly for RS wannabes, the ducktail will not, but you can guarantee that some enterprising aftermarket outfit will oblige.
But who needs a stupid little spoiler anyway? If you want the real successor to the 2.7 RS, you need a GT3. It’s the best driving 911 you can buy and all of a sudden it looks like an absolute bargain.

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Specs

Price when new: £140,049
On sale in the UK:
Engine: 3800cc 24v flat six, 402bhp @ 7300rpm, 310b ft @ 4200-5600rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.6sec 0-62, 187mph, 27mpg, 250g/km CO2
Weight / material: 4440/1852/1290
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 1425kg/steel

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  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review
  • Porsche 911 Sport Classic (2011) review

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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