What is it?
To understand the point of the new Porsche 911 Speedster requires rewiring your brain to accept that cool, detached logic has really very little to do with it. For if you allow common sense even a glimpse of the Speedster, it will start to ask questions. Awkward ones like, "Couldn’t I buy a GT3 and a Boxster Spyder and still have a five-figure sum left over?" Ah yes, Porsche will tell you, but they will not be exclusive.
Or, put more properly, Exclusive. The Speedster follows hot on the heels of last year’s Sport Classic as the latest product retailed by Porsche’s Exclusive department. These are the wacky folks in Stuttgart who over the last quarter century or so have brought you cars such as the shove-snouted 930 Turbo, 968 Turbo S, 993 Turbo S and, last year, the 997 Sport Classic. And they’re not kidding about the exclusivity: apparently out of homage to the first 1954 Speedster, just 356 are going to be built, each one retailing for £144,100. By comparison, the original 356 and subsequent G-series 911 and 964-based Speedsters (of which 4144, 2103 and 930 respectively were built) were positively common.
What's it like?
At its heart, this new Speedster takes the wide body of the Carrera 4S Cabriolet but the rear-drive, 402bhp upgraded powertrain from the Sport Classic which will next year become standardised in the 911 GTS. PDK is the only available transmission. Wide Fuchs-style wheels, as well as the front and rear bumpers and valances, are also Sport Classic carry-overs.
But your attention is drawn first to the signature double-bubble hood cover and the shortened windscreen, abbreviated to the tune of 60mm. Unlike previous Speedsters, the rake of the screen remains unchanged. But also unlike its forebears, you don’t have to sign papers saying you understand your Speedster is not waterproof; this one emphatically is.
The hood mechanism is more complex than complicated and putting it up or down requires none of the wrestling demanded of you by a Boxster Spyder. To raise it, electrics lift the hood cover, which you then manually hinge back to provide access to the hood itself. You then pull the hood into place and dive inside to secure it to the windscreen, before leaping out to lower the cover again, dive back inside to tension the rear roof struts and finally use the electrics once more to clamp it down on the now safely closed roof cover. Porsche says one person, suitably trained, can do it in under two minutes.
The weight shed by removing various electric roof motors and adding aluminium doors and PCCB carbon brakes is matched exactly by that gained by the wide body and endless equipment list, meaning the Speedster weighs not one kilo more or less than a C2S Cabriolet. The result is that it drives very much as you’d expect, offering flashing performance, admirable body rigidity and superb steering, chassis balance and poise.
But you could say as much about any convertible 911, and this is not why the Speedster will sell. Instead, it will go to those who buy into an interior so covered in leather that even the air vents and coat hooks are swaddled in the stuff. They’ll love the anodised steel kickplates, the unique series number of their car (which they can choose) and the ‘Speedster’ inlaid into the handbrake.
Should I buy one?
It is, in short, a car for completists or for those turned on by ownership of something others cannot have. It’s a great car, but that’s more because it’s a 911 than because it's a Speedster. Its value, therefore, is defined almost entirely by your desire to be Exclusive.
Porsche 911 Speedster
Price: £144,100; Top speed: 190mph; 0-62mph: 4.4sec; Economy: 27.4mpg; CO2: 242g/km; Kerb weight: 1540kg; Engine: 6 cyls, 3800cc, petrol; Power: 402bhp at 7300rpm; Torque: 310lb ft at 4200rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd dual-clutch auto