Porsche 911 Speedster
by John Davis
While there have been plenty of special Porsche 911 models over the years, you could make an argument that the 911 Speedsters are the most special of the special. They tend to arrive only once a decade or so. The latest one showed up last calendar year to commemorate Porsche’s 70th anniversary. It was designed to showcase the best of what Porsche has to offer.
But, a car as special as this 991 chassis Porsche 911 Speedster needs a special place to properly evaluate it. So, for this rare outing, earlier this year we headed for the sunny West Coast, where dreams come true and sports cars have room to roam.
But what makes this Speedster such a spectacular driver’s car? Well, that’s primarily because it’s based on a Porsche GT chassis for the first time. Which means, performance is priority one. Now that becomes obvious as soon as you hop behind the wheel.
There’s a traditional 5 dial gauge cluster, with a big tach front and center. Real needles on dials seems almost quaint these days. Likewise, the steering wheel is splendidly free of any controls, just a stitched in on-center marker. This car is all about the connection between you and the car.
So, while back to basics is the theme, it’s a pure modern execution of said ethos, as air-conditioning is not standard, but it is available as a no cost option.
Carbon fiber also replaces aluminum for most body panels, and the windshield has been chopped by 2-inches.
Still this Speedster is no lightweight, as it is actually heavier than a GT3. But, Porsche certainly took strides to keep it in check, including a manually operated soft-top. The available Heritage package is cool, and not too over the top, as long as you don’t consider having a number painted on the side of your car too much of a show off.
No matter how racy things look up top, underneath there are of course plenty of parts bolted to the chassis from the GT race shop. Likewise, the engine is the GT3’s naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter flat-6 with dry sump. It has been retuned for emission purposes; but Porsche being Porsche, happened to find a couple more horsepower along the way, now at 502-horsepower and 346 lb-ft. of torque.
There’s also a new stainless-steel sport exhaust system that weights a whopping 22-lbs. less than the GT3’s. And yes, it sounds as phenomenal as you’d expect, revving to its 9,000-RPM limit. There’s an abundance of power in the 5 to 7,000 range; and it’s a pure joy keeping the engine there with the GT3’s 6-speed manual. Gears click into place with effortless precision, and the car will do the rev matching for you if you want it to.
Porsche Active Suspension Management oversees the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension; with settings for Normal and Sport. Be warned, there’s no comfort mode, and nothing about the full-bucket carbon-fiber seats would ever be confused as being comforting. Just another reminder that this car means business.
The suspension has been lowered by about an inch, but you can lift the front end electronically to avoid driveway scrapes of the front splitter. While Porsche claims this is not a track car, it sure feels like it would be a great on one, with standard Ceramic Composite Brakes that easily take care of insane speeds when called upon to do so.
All-in-all, it’s an intoxicating driving experience you’ll find nowhere else; just amazing solidity, and a true dream to interact with.
For our complete road test of the latest Porsche Speedster, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3945 that begins airing July 10, 2020. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, click the “About The Show” tab at the top of this page. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons on the MotorTrend cable channel.
Built to celebrate 70-years of Porsche, the biggest irony of all with this latest 911 Speedster is that while we constantly long for the pure joy of driving, and Porsche delivers it here like no one else, they do it with the use of a lot of technology. But, if this is indeed the final 991 911, it is the ultimate example of going out on top.