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New Porsche 911 Speedster: six decades in the making

 Published 23rd May 2019
New Launches 

Who fancies being James Dean for a day?

You do?

Well, now is a good a time as any.

Point yourself at the fabulous new Porsche Speedster and find out why this particular Porsche is such an icon.

Let's start with the original Porsche Speedster, which was based on the 356 America Roadster. Its sleek aluminium body - hand built back in those days - meant it weighed significantly less than the coupe version and allowed it hit a top speed of 111mph from its 70PS four-cylinder engine.

Unfortunately for most of us, the 356 was quite expensive and only 16 were ever built.

In 1954 Porsche developed a cheaper version for the US market that retained the key features of the 356 - raked windscreen, slot-in windows for the doors, a folding rain-cover top and lightweight bucket seats - but without the expensive aluminium body.

The result was an open top sports car that purists loved for the sheer driving pleasure, and everyone else loved because it was a beautifully sleek and futuristic looking thing. This was the car that the enthusiastic racing driver in James Dean fell in love with.

Porsche 911 Speedster front view

The original Porsche Speedster hit its peak in 1957 when it boasted a 1.5-litre engine producing 110PS and became the first Porsche to break the 200 km/h barrier. Now, 124 mph may not sound much in this day and age but in 1957 that was quick. Stupendously quick.

Although not as quick as the latest Speedster to leave the Porsche garage.

Things have moved on a long way in the 60 years since the 356 arrived. But the new Porsche 911 Speedster shares many of the concepts of its illustrious predecessor: an open-top, two-seater sports car that's focused, driver-oriented and featuring motor sports technology yet at the same time suitable for everyday use.

First presented as a concept last year, the new 911 Speedster has now entered a limited production run of 1,948 units to be built from mid-2019.

Porsche 911 Speedster review view

The heart of the new 911 Speedster comes from the rightly revered 911 GT3. The naturally aspirated, 4.0-litre, six-cylinder engine offers peak power of 510 PS and 470 Nm of torque and is a long way from the lowly days of the 1950s. Forget the 124mph limit of the original; the new 911 Speedster accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 4.0 seconds and will keep on going to a top speed of 192 mph, and it will do all of that while delivering a perfectly acceptable 20mpg.

It's also fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox that incorporates a clever "auto-blip function" which will match engine speed to the gear for a smoother change, a modified intake system with individual throttle valves and a lightweight, stainless steel sports exhaust. To save weight the new Porsche 911 Speedster also incorporates a carbon-fibre bonnet and wings and a lightweight fabric roof that's easy to operate.

The interior is distinguished by black leather elements for the side bolsters and head restraints of the carbon-fibre composite full-bucket seats, the armrests in the door trims and the shortened gear lever.

Porsche 911 Speedster interior

The centre panels of the seats are upholstered in perforated leather, while the lightweight door panels with black door pulls and stowage nets reduce the overall weight. "Speedster" logos adorn the head restraints and the visible carbon door sills as well as the central rev counter. Like the other instruments, it has black dials with white needles as well as green digits and scales - features reminiscent of its famous forebear, the 356 Speedster.

A unique badge on the cross structure behind the front seats also shows the serial number of each limited edition car.

Heritage Design package upgrade

You can also order a Heritage Design package which reinterprets classic elements from the 1950s and '60s. This includes a Black and Cognac interior colour scheme with golden details, special "spears" paintwork in white for the front facia and front wings is also applied to the GT Silver Metallic paintwork.

Historic-inspired motor sports decals for the doors and front lid complete the effect with owners able to select their own maximum two-digit start numbers for the personal touch.

But - because there's always a but - now we get to the tricky part.

There's no way we can pretend this is anything other than a limited edition supercar that's going to be highly attractive and very collectable.

You could go into a Porsche dealer today and order the new 911 Speedster if you chose, although unless you have a spare £211,599 that's not likely to happen. You should also be aware that if you opt for the Heritage Design package you'll be adding an extra £15,302 to the price. Before VAT...

That being said, if you're behind the wheel of a successful business and fancy driving something that stands out from the crowd, then this could be the ideal lease car for you.

You won't have to root around the back of the sofa for a couple of hundred grand in loose change and you get to drive around pretending to be James Dean.

What's not to like about that?

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