I recently had the chance to drive the new 2020 Porsche 911 Speedster, which is the swan song of the "991" generation of the Porsche 911. By that, I mean that it’s the very last 991 model — the end of the line, after nine years in production. It’s also the very best version.
Before I get into my thoughts on the Speedster, a quick overview. "Speedster" is an iconic Porsche term that typically refers to limited-production Porsche convertible models with sleeker styling than usual Porsche convertibles. The original Speedster, the 356, debuted back in the 1950s — and Porsche has trotted out the name here and there over the years for special models.
The latest Speedster is certainly a special model. Underneath, it’s essentially a 911 GT3, sharing the same 4.0-liter flat-6 and 510 horsepower. A manual transmission isn’t just standard, it’s mandatory, and you also have the GT3’s tight sport seats, center lock wheels and stiff suspension. The biggest difference is that the Speedster sits slightly higher than the GT3, though I truly mean only slightly — less than a half of an inch.
And, like prior Speedster models, this one has a weird roof — that’s par for the course with the Speedster. In this case, dropping the top is quite the process: You have to get out, remove a rear decklid that’s like a large trunk, manually put down the top, close the lid … it’s quite a process compared to the regular 911 Cabriolet, where you just push a button. This whole thing is ridiculous for a car this expensive, but it’s intended to keep you away from ever using the top — the whole point is you own the Speedster in a sunny climate and just pretty much always drive it with the top down.
Speaking of "a car this expensive," the Speedster is, indeed, pretty expensive. It starts around $275,000, but the one I drove ended up at $300,000 with options, which places it squarely into the "really expensive supercar" territory. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the look or the performance of a "really expensive supercar," like a 720S or a Ferrari 488, which is a demerit to some — but Porsche people will appreciate it all the same, on account of its rarity and the fact that it’s a "numbered car," meaning it has a plaque that lets you know precisely where your car falls in the production run of 1,948 for the world.
But, to me, the best part about the Speedster isn’t the rarity or the look — it’s the driving experience. No, the Speedster is no McLaren 720S when it comes to performance, but it’s so much fun to drive. The Porsche 911 already has a fantastic clutch pedal and shifter, and when you add that to a GT3 powertrain and the top-down driving experience, you just have the best of all possible worlds. I love the GT3, for instance, but I think it’s too focused and aggressive for my tastes — so this thing adds a top-down experience to relax you. And while the GT3 has become all-too-common in the Porsche world, here’s a limited-edition, numbered car to make you feel a bit more special.
The whole thing is wonderful, and I’m thrilled I had the chance to drive it. It goes around corners like a GT3, it accelerates like a GT3, and yet it provides the open-top driving experience of a 911 Cabriolet. If you’re into convertibles, this is the 911 you want — and I am, so I want it. It’s just a shame about that $300,000 price tag: It’s way too expensive to even realistically dream about. But good things tend to be. Find a Porsche 911 for sale