5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Styling; steering/handling; performance
Price, slightly difficult to climb in and out; limited numbers
The Wheels Verdict: It seems impossible that a car without a roof, and thus theoretically compromised, could be the greatest Porsche ever made, but this is basically the 911 you get when the best people in the company’s GT department are allowed to do, and spend, whatever they want to create the perfect car for the road.
WHAT IS THE PORSCHE 911 SPEEDSTER?
The man with the plan for the latest iteration of an icon, Andreas Preuninger, the man in charge of 911 GT cars, calls the new Speedster “a 911 R without a roof” and an “RS for the road”, but most tellingly an “affair of the heart”. Essentially, it’s an even lighter, prettier and roofless GT3, only they’ve made the engine even more impressive and the throttle response more instantaneous. It’s got a six-speed manual gearbox, only, and a manual roof. It’s all about “purity”, apparently, and it’s hard to argue with that. Oh, and it’s also $604,800.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
We went all the way to Sardinia to drive it because Australia will not be getting a vehicle for press evaluation. Ever. These things are too rare, with only 1948 of them being built, and many more than 1948 people who’ve already paid a deposit in the hope of getting a car they’ve never even seen in the flesh.
PORSCHE 911 SPEEDSTER REVIEW
It’s a low-whistle, head-shake number; $604,800, particularly for a Porsche. It could get you a 911 and a 911 Cabriolet, a mixed half-dozen used Boxsters and Caymans, a Lamborghini plus change - or exactly one new 911 Speedster.
Another incredible number related to this drop-dead delectable re-imagining of a classic, is 1948 (enthusiasts/nerds will recognise it as the year Porsche built its first car).
Despite admitting that they spent literally millions on engineering and specific re-tooling to manufacture this unique, carbon-fibre roadster (just the height of the windscreen alone, which had to look different to a Cabrio, cost a bomb). And yet only 1948 Speedsters will be made.
This, clearly, is a very special car, an “affair of the heart” project for Porsche’s GT department and an effort to make something combining purity, pace and absolute perfection.
It’s also that rarest of things, a super car with a manual gearbox - and not just any manual; it has to be the most beautifully weighted and slickly gated transmission I’ve ever used. That choice to attach a six-speed and a clutch to a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre engine from the GT3, which has been tweaked to make 375kWkW at 8500rpm and 470Nm, means it can “only” get to 100km/h in four seconds flat.
The Porsche folks say a PDK version, which they never considered building, would be good for 3.5 or even quicker, but it is the in-gear acceleration, and the incredible, instantaneous reactions to your right foot, that stagger you in the Speedster. This is largely thanks to the application of individual throttle bodies - a tricky bit of racing-car tech.
The challenge of shifting cogs swiftly enough in something this blisteringly quick is aided by a new Auto Blip button, which I really didn’t want to use, because the pedal box is set up so perfectly for heel-and-toe action, but I must admit I found it hugely helpful - and wildly entertaining - when I did.
In other news: 911 Speedster Australian pricing confirmed
The Speedster has speed, of course, and smashes through 200km/h the way other sports cars destroy 60, but it is the way it handles, and rides, that are, along with its looks, the most memorably mind boggling.
This car somehow soaks up cracks, bumps and potholes with superlative ease, yet makes you feel as bonded with the road as if Thanos was shoving you into it. To drive it fast along a winding road - the howling revs filling the cabin, the gear changes making your hand smile, the rear-end behaving with such poise, the whole car so balanced - is perhaps as close to motoring perfection as I’ve ever been.
Which is just what the lucky 30 or so Australian customers (Porsche won’t or can’t say how many cars it’s getting) who get to pay $600K for one want to hear. And terrible news for the 60 or so others who’ve already slapped down deposits, but will miss out.
PORSCHE 911 SPEEDSTER VS RIVALS
Lamborghini Huracan Perfomante Spyder, Ferrari 488 Pista Spider, Gold bullion
PORSCHE 911 SPEEDSTER PRICE AND SPECS AUSTRALIA
Model: Porsche 911 Speedster
Engine: 4.0-litre boxer six-cylinder
Max power: 375kW at 8500rpm
Max torque: 470Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
On sale: Now, kind of, but they’re all spoken for