RE: Porsche 911 Speedster: Driven

RE: Porsche 911 Speedster: Driven

Wednesday 15th May

Porsche 911 Speedster: Driven

The swansong 991 is quite a thing. And it comes at quite a cost



Curious cocktail, the Speedster. This is the second time Porsche has used its catchiest nameplate to round out a 911 generation; the first being last time around with the 997 variant. That model, a hulking cabriolet with a GTS engine, wasn't particularly great, truth be told. This one though, verifiably the last gasp of the dearly departed 991, and with a GT3 engine and chassis to boot, arrives with greatness virtually plumbed in.

Who, after all, wouldn't relish the prospect of an open-air cabin when one of the world's last remaining - and truly sensational - naturally-aspirated engines can be found trilling away over your left shoulder? Porsche knows you would. Porsche knows, in fact, that you might feasibly give your right arm for such a thing. Thus it has conspired to charge an arm-sized sum: this Speedster is £211,599 - essentially £100k more than the 991 GT3 was at launch.

It is such an outrageous amount to pay for an open-top 911 that its maker has not spared the special sauce. For a start, this is the first Speedster to be developed by Porsche Motorsport, the division responsible for every GT-badged variant of the firm's flagship sports car. Then there's the revelation that the manufacturer has been playing around with the concept since 2013 (just two years after the 991's launch, incredibly) and originally conceived the run-out model with no roof at all. That would likely have satisfied the buyers on America's West Coast - historically the place where most of it buyers live - but would obviously have limited usability anywhere with, you know, weather.


Consequently, there is a roof, a fabric one that you'll mostly be putting up and down yourself. Happily it's an easy-peasy, 45-second-ish job and gives you ample opportunity to eyeball the enormous slab of composite its maker has deployed as a weight-saving solution to the double-bubble rear deck requirement. You'll find no bigger single-piece of carbon fibre on any other road-going Porsche, and its fitment is indicative of the effort applied across the board.

Re-engineering the 991 with those shortened A pillars was apparently no mean feat. Ditto the job of fusing a GT3 underbody with what is essentially the back end of a cabriolet. To minimise weight gain over the conventional GT3, carbon fibre features heavily elsewhere in the body, including the front wings and bonnet. Then there's the imperious 4.0-litre flat-six, outfitted with a new lightweight exhaust system so that the engineers might have somewhere to put a brace of Euro 6-qualifying particulate filters.

The result, to look at, duly lives up to its Speedster heritage. Granted, the characteristic styling cues aren't for everyone, and there are still some angles where you might conceivably question the visual pay-off of that outsized rear-end. But it looks great from everywhere else (yep, that's a new front splitter) and, frankly, if you're anything like us, there will be too much excited fumbling at the door handle to pay the exterior too much mind.


Inside, it's all high-spec 991 - which will be mildly discombobulating if you've driven the 992 because its successor does such a good job of tidying up all the extraneous switchgear. Still, it's wonderfully well finished, you get analogue dials (which are better, no question) and the drive modes remain pleasingly limited to two-stage dampers, a two-stage exhaust note and a two-stage deactivation of the ESC and traction control.

Porsche also gives you the choice of turning the gearbox's auto blip on and off separately, too, as in the six-speed GT3. The manual itself though feels as it did before: brawny, mechanical, accurate and very positive. The thickset clutch pedal follows suit. Bring it up too gingerly or put the throttle down too hesitantly and the transmission won't spare your blushes. This, encouragingly, is not a car for pussyfooting about in.

At mediocre speeds, it rather does what it says on the tin, and trundles around the place like a GT3 with the roof removed. Which is, of course, startlingly high praise. Structurally speaking, at least half the Speedster is a convertible, which, by definition, makes it slightly heavier and wobblier than the 991.2 GT3. But don't expect to notice either demerit on the road, much less waste time decrying them. Whatever Porsche did to marry the open-top architecture to the GT-grade chassis has worked splendidly: there's no tremor or sense of disconnect or squidgy lack of edge to the Speedster - or if there is, it can be rated as no more significant than the 0.2 seconds the model has sacrificed in the sprint to 62mph. Which is to say not at all.


In the bad old days the addition of fuel particulate filters might have meant a gentle sullying of the engine's high-revving pyrotechnics - but Porsche's engineers have proven themselves more than equal to the task: the latest 4.0-litre unit has had its fuel pressure increased to 250bar courtesy of new injectors and a modified intake system now features individual throttle valves. The result is 510hp at 8,400rpm - marginally more than was delivered in the outgoing GT3.

Its maker says you get better throttle response as part of the bargain, although that's difficult to measure in any objective way. Subjectively, the Speedster goes phenomenally well. There is the very real possibility that no comparable engine on sale today forges such a quintessential relationship between throttle and trainer sole. It doesn't surge or erupt or seek to overwhelm; it goes quickly, then very quickly, then, in its final throes, it slays you dead.

The difference between stationary and dead is as nuanced as a Robert Frost poem. Measuring very precisely how many of the motor's rasping revolutions you want at any given moment - and from what gear - is scandalously rewarding. Much time is spent plotting a way back to the euphoric 1,500rpm adjacent to the redline, and yet, thanks to the interactiveness of that third pedal, Porsche's finest engine is no less compelling 3,000rpm earlier.


The driveline would be nothing though - or half as good, at least - without the magicked up contribution of the chassis underpinning it. Unweighted and tenacious at the front, laser-guided by soft-edged, silly-good steering and cheerily beholden to its steerable back axle, the Speedster takes its GT3 impression deadly seriously. Porsche has apparently set it up to be slightly more benign at high speeds to account for the degradation in aerodynamic performance - but, on any road governed by speed limits, it still flatters you with its approachability and swaggering, tactile sense of beyond-limit control.

Because it does all these things, and in the same moment indulges you with the soft swirl of a summer's breeze, it must be considered a triumph on its own terms. It is easily good enough to have you wondering at journey's end if any other car separated from its roof holds a candle to its virtuosic marshalling of ride and handling and speed and sound. The Ferrari 488 Spider, perhaps. Or the McLaren 600LT. The Speedster can count itself in the same cathedral, certainly.

Does that make it worthy of its £100k premium versus an original 991 GT3? Well, on the face of it, and with used values still sky high, there's little doubt that Porsche is on remarkably solid ground charging beyond £200k for a limited edition, run-out 911. It will sell all 1948 examples immediately, and some will be resold for much more.


But, for us, a six-figure markup also requires a commensurate step up in ability or driving experience - and for all its absurd loveliness and implied desirability, it could be argued that the Speedster doesn't advance the stock GT3's own veritable charm sufficiently far down the road. When Porsche worked a similar trick with the 981, the much venerated Spyder came with the kicker of a larger - and consummately better - 3.8-litre flat-six, instantly redefining just how amazing the already very good Boxster could be.

The latest Speedster doesn't quite manage that. Its defining achievement is making a convertible 911 very nearly as spectacular to drive as a manual 991.2 GT3. Which is good enough for it to be among the best open-top sports cars in the world, without it being the best 991 ever made.

Still, if the colossal asking price helped justify the (all but confirmed) extension of the 4.0-litre flat-six's lifespan, cult status beckons. It would befit the wonderful car Porsche has built.


SPECIFICATION - PORSCHE 911 SPEEDSTER (991)
Engine:
3,996cc flat-6
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 510@8,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 346@6,250rpm
0-62mph: 4.0sec
Top speed: 192mph
Weight: 1,465kg (DIN)
MPG: TBC
CO2: 317g/km
Price: £211,599






Author
Discussion

herebebeasties

Original Poster:

405 posts

160 months

Tuesday 14th May
quotequote all
So enormous that the pics make it look like it's being driven by an eight year old.

And a hundred grand for a slightly different roof.

The Emperor is positively freezing today.

(Also, the writing in this piece is genuinely appalling. Marrying open top architectures to open top architectures? Did the author smoke a tree before writing this drivel?)

Edited by herebebeasties on Tuesday 14th May 23:30

Nerdherder

608 posts

38 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
herebebeasties said:
So enormous that the pics make it look like it's being driven by an eight year old.

And a hundred grand for a slightly different roof.

The Emperor is positively freezing today.

(Also, the writing in this piece is genuinely appalling. Marrying open top architectures to open top architectures? Did the author smoke a tree before writing this drivel?)

Edited by herebebeasties on Tuesday 14th May 23:30
Amen.

belleair302

6,054 posts

148 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
For that kind of markup I would be looking for a drives car, not an open top museum piece. GT2 please or my money would go elsewhere, probably into a McLaren or a Ferrari.....all would be driven frequently too.

Robbie1400

25 posts

87 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Wasn't there a Speedster version of the 964 model 911? If so, then this would be the third not the second.

I'll make the comment again - blank switches on the console of a top of the range, £210k, "fully kitted out" Porsche? Really?

PMacanGTS

132 posts

12 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Robbie1400 said:
Wasn't there a Speedster version of the 964 model 911? If so, then this would be the third not the second.

I'll make the comment again - blank switches on the console of a top of the range, 211k, "fully -kitted out" Porsche? Really?
There were production Speedsters for the Carrera 3.2 (2104 built), 930 (2100 built), 964 (936 built), 997 (356 built) and now 991 (1948 being built).

There was also a 993 speedster, but only 2 were built, one for Butzi Porsche and the other for Jerry Seinfeld.

Edited by PMacanGTS on Wednesday 15th May 08:27

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GranCab

1,454 posts

87 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Cack the Hack strikes again ... what a load of unnecessary flowery bks.

For example ...

The difference between stationary and dead is as nuanced as a Robert Frost poem. Measuring very precisely how many of the motor's rasping revolutions you want at any given moment - and from what gear - is scandalously rewarding. Much time is spent plotting a way back to the euphoric 1,500rpm adjacent to the redline, and yet, thanks to the interactiveness of that third pedal, Porsche's finest engine is no less compelling 3,000rpm earlier.


JFW .....







Edited by GranCab on Wednesday 15th May 09:09

wab172uk

1,298 posts

168 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
belleair302 said:
For that kind of markup I would be looking for a drives car, not an open top museum piece. GT2 please or my money would go elsewhere, probably into a McLaren or a Ferrari.....all would be driven frequently too.
To be fair though, those who Porsche choose to allow to buy this probably already have lots of Porsches, and this is just to add to their collection.

I doubt the actual cost matters much to them.

Plate spinner

13,104 posts

141 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Potentially an interesting article about an interesting car... made unreadable by the writing style. Shame really.

simonbamg

244 posts

64 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
belleair302 said:
For that kind of markup I would be looking for a drives car, not an open top museum piece. GT2 please or my money would go elsewhere, probably into a McLaren or a Ferrari.....all would be driven frequently too.
Thanks for letting us know you’d drive your imaginary car often, it’s all in the details

Turbobanana

1,337 posts

142 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
PH said:
...naturally-aspirated engines can be found trilling away over your left shoulder...
As this example is LHD, that's a novel innovation from Porsche, at last: engines mounted outside the car.

andrewparker

3,470 posts

128 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Plate spinner said:
Potentially an interesting article about an interesting car... made unreadable by the writing style. Shame really.
Yeah, I went straight to the EVO review.

Not many cars I'm lusting over more than this at the moment. Little point in me debating the price or it's availability, just think it looks amazing.

BathyThermo

196 posts

1 month

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Author too embarrassed to put their name to it?

I do like the sound of 510bhp at 8400rpm from a 4.0 flat 6 though, those are some nice numbers.

Peak torque is at a speed where many petrol engines have already hit their rev limiter.

CC07 PEU

1,220 posts

145 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
So damn big, it almost resembles a bus!

Turbobanana

1,337 posts

142 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
BathyThermo said:
Author too embarrassed to put their name to it?
Says Nic Cackett on the front page. You're new here, aren't you?


Edited by Turbobanana on Wednesday 15th May 10:46

The Surveyor

6,551 posts

178 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
God Porsche marketing is good. 'limited edition' version of an old model, limited to 'only' 1948 examples at a £100k premium.

A convertible GT3 sounds like a fabulous concept, but a GT3 convertible which only those select few in the secret inner sanctum can buy is not very fabulous at all IMHO.

cookie1600

1,129 posts

102 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Plate spinner said:
Potentially an interesting article about an interesting car... made unreadable by the writing style. Shame really.
Unfortunately I didn't get far into the article before I realised who had written it and couldn't face trying to wade through the flowery stodge and multiple dashes any further. I actually love the look of the car and wanted to read more.

This kind of article is killing the enjoyment of PH for me. Sorry to go on about it, but when you feel passionately about something you can't just let it slip.

Digga

26,780 posts

224 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Were I after a Porsche I could take the roof off of, it would still be the Boxster Spyder.

3rd

6 posts

9 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
Digga said:
Were I after a Porsche I could take the roof off of, it would still be the Boxster Spyder.
+1

PMacanGTS

132 posts

12 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
The Surveyor said:
God Porsche marketing is good. 'limited edition' version of an old model, limited to 'only' 1948 examples at a £100k premium.

A convertible GT3 sounds like a fabulous concept, but a GT3 convertible which only those select few in the secret inner sanctum can buy is not very fabulous at all IMHO.
Their cars are good. Working in marketing at Porsche must be a breeze, as the product speaks for itself.

cerb4.5lee

11,372 posts

121 months

Wednesday 15th May
quotequote all
The price of this blows my mind, I appreciate that Porsche is an aspirational brand and it has a very loyal following...but surely this is a complete rip off in terms of what you actually get.

I haven't got the money for one but even if I had this wouldn't be the car that I'd throw over £200k at. But I'm guessing that it will sky rocket in value though and that is the lure of it.