You get what you pay for—sort of
Pure driving enjoyment is why the Porsche 911 Speedster exists. It’s a soft-topped swan song for the 991-generation 911; a celebration of the sounds and sensations that make the car great. The Stuttgart brand will only build 1,948 Speedsters, and prices start at $275,750 USD. That buys a majestic driver’s car with a list of bespoke parts, but there are also some head-scratching omissions from the spec sheet. Here are things you get, and others you don’t, on the 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster.
Get: Model-specific engine
Don’t think of the Speedster as simply a convertible GT3. Although they share underpinnings, the road-oriented Speedster has numerous changes compared to the track-focused GT3. Those include the 4.0-liter flat-six engine, which Porsche considers an evolution of the GT3’s mill. Each cylinder has its own throttle body, and fuel injection pressure is increased. These work to yield even sharper throttle response, and a slight bump in power.
Don’t get: Air conditioning
The Speedster is built for idyllic motoring: carving twisty roads with the top down, sunshine and fresh air flowing into the cabin. But no price tag can guarantee perfect weather, and Speedster drivers in hot climates might get toasty—the car isn’t equipped with air conditioning. Removing climate control systems was part of Porsche’s goal to lighten the car, even at the expense of livability. However, customers can add air conditioning back in as a no-cost option.
Get: Lower windshield
This one probably made Porsche’s bean counters anxious. Reducing the Carrera Cabriolet’s windshield height by 2 inches required extensive retooling and reengineering, all to achieve a slightly sleeker look. All-new glass and rollover protection considerations accompanied that decision, but for the Speedster’s design team there was no choice. Speedsters through the generations have always had lower windshields than their standard 911 counterparts, making the look an integral part of the car’s DNA.
Don’t get: Power-operated roof
A 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at about $105,000 USD, leaving space for options before you’re at even half the cost of the Speedster. The Cabriolet has a cloth roof that opens or closes at the touch of a button—the Speedster, however, makes you do that work yourself. A switch inside the cabin initiates opening procedures by releasing the carbon-fiber tonneau cover. Then, the driver has to hop out, lift it all the way, and fold the cloth roof down before popping the lid back in place. One might expect a car of this price to stow the roof automatically, but losing the associated hardware saved a few pounds.
Get: More comfortable suspension
A key differentiator between the Speedster and the GT3—one that signals its inclination for the road over the track—is the slightly softer suspension setup. It still gets the GT3’s adjustable dampers, but they’re tuned for comfort even in Sport mode. Unique springs lift the ride height by 5mm, adding a touch of suppleness. Despite the changes, the Speedster still delivers fantastic cornering ability and steering feel.
Don’t get: Special numbering
Get: Super-light exhaust
The noise the Speedster makes as it runs to its 9,000-rpm redline justifies every cent of its price. Porsche earned those pennies by developing a new, lighter-weight exhaust just for the car. Super-thin metal joined by a special soldering technique reduce the system’s weight by 22 pounds (10 kg) over the GT3—a decrease that sharpens the car’s rear-engine handling dynamics.
Don’t get: infotainment or navigation (in Europe)