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First drive: 2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic. Image by Porsche.

First drive: 2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic
Limited-edition 911 costs a fortune, but is it brilliant enough to justify its £215,000 price tag?

   



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Porsche 911 Sport Classic

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Porsche has done special editions before, but few are as special as this. It's called the 911 Sport Classic, and it's Porsche's way of celebrating 60 years of its fabled rear-engined sports car. Just 1,250 will be made, though, and with each fetching more than £200,000, will they be worth the hefty premium over a GT3 or a Turbo?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic
Price: £217,727 (as tested)
Engine: 3.7-litre turbocharged flat-six petrol
Transmission: seven-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power: 550hp
Torque: 600Nm
Emissions: 236g/km
Economy/Range: 27.2mpg
0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 196mph
Boot space: 132 litres

Styling

Porsche has worked hard on the Sport Classic's styling, taking inspiration from 911s of old, and the 2.7 RS in particular. Which is why the Sport Classic uses the Turbo's 'widebody' bodywork, albeit minus the distinctive air intakes in front of the rear wheels, and then adds the huge ducktail spoiler. There are other touches, too, including the wheels that look a little like the classic Fuchs rims, and a hint of a double-bubble roof. Even the Sport Grey Metallic paint of our test car and the white decal set were inspired by historic models, although customers can choose other paint schemes if they wish. Either way, the gold lettering and the Porsche Heritage logo on the rear grille will all come as standard.

Interior

Similarly, the Sport Classic's cabin design is based on Porsches of old, despite the basic framework being the same as a stock 911 Turbo. Chief among the tweaks is the three-tone upholstery with black and brown leather, plus the classic Pepita cloth. Wood trim is also fitted, along with more gold lettering and a redesigned rev counter with classic luminous lettering.

Visual updates aside, though, it's all very 911ish, with the massive widescreen touchscreen in the middle and the hybrid instrument cluster that combines digital and analogue readouts to great effect. The quality is as outstanding as ever, too, so the Sport Classic's cabin feels like a very premium environment.

Practicality

Though the Sport Classic's cabin might be premium, it isn't what you'd call roomy. As with other 911s, the rear seats are only really suitable for children, and small ones at that. For the most part, it's better to use the back seats as a kind of parcel shelf to supplement the existing parcel shelf and the boot under the bonnet. At 132 litres, it's about the same size as the luggage bay in a Mazda MX-5, and that is not a capacious car. Still, creative packing of soft bags should allow you to take enough luggage for a medium-length road trip.

Performance

Deep in the bowels of the Sport Classic is a 3.7-litre flat-six engine with two turbochargers, throwing out 550hp and 600Nm of torque. Thatís down slightly on the 911 Turbo, but then the Sport Classic is sending that power to two fewer wheels (itís rear-wheel-drive, whereas the Turbo is all-wheel-drive) and itís going there through a seven-speed manual gearbox, rather than a PDK double-clutch automatic.

In short, this is a set-up for the purists, not the stattos, and thatís reflected in the performance figures. Officially, 0-62mph takes 4.1 seconds Ė roughly the same as a stock 911 Ė and the top speed is 196mph. But the relative lightness of the Sport Classic compared with the Turbo means itís a bit more efficient, returning 27mpg on the official economy test.

More importantly, though, the engine howls its way up the rev range, the gearbox allows you to feel more engaged with the car and the response is instantaneous. As long as youíre in the right gear, the performance just builds and builds. Overtaking is laughably easy.

Ride & Handling

The Sport Classic is designed to sit somewhere between the GT3 and the Turbo on the 911 spectrum, offering some of the track carís engagement while also providing the cross-country performance of the grand tourer.

For the most part, it succeeds. It feels spicier and more alive than the Turbo, with a bit more animation from the chassis. Itís more eager to turn into corners and more alert, while the steering is equally sublime. Of course, a 550hp, rear-drive 911 will misbehave if encouraged, and the rear wheels are more than happy to spin on anything other than a dry road. However, the grip is still terrific and the twitchiness will only be a boon to those with the desire to make the most of it.

Naturally, the Sport Classic will never be as sharp as a GT3, but we were hoping the manual transmission would be better. It feels overly sprung, with the lever snapping back to the centre of the H-pattern gate with quite some force, and that makes the changes heavy and less slick. It isnít the end of the world Ė not by a long shot Ė but itís a bit of a disappointment.

Happily, the Sport Classicís ride manages to strike slightly more of a balance. It is a little stiffer than that of a Turbo, but thatís just the trade-off for slightly more body control and a little more agility. It still isnít ruinously uncomfortable, although selecting the sportiest settings will make it quite unpleasant on the road. Itís better to leave it in the standard mode, allowing it to isolate you reasonably well at high speeds.

Value

At £214,000, the 911 Sport Classic certainly doesn't come cheap. In fact, it's about £70,000 more expensive than a GT3 and more than £50,000 up on the Turbo. Of course, you get all the special-edition accoutrements for that money, but the fact remains that exclusivity is the chief justification for the price tag. With just 1,250 examples built for customers worldwide, the Sport Classic club won't have many members. Whether that one-upmanship is worth the huge premium will be up to individual customers.

Verdict

On paper, the Sport Classic seems a bit pointless. Here is a car that isn't as good a tourer as the Turbo, nor as good a track car as the GT3, yet it costs far more than either model. But the truth is the Sport Classic bridges the gap beautifully, offering the GT3 engagement with the Turbo luxury, while also being the purist's dream. If you take the price out of the equation, this is arguably the best 911 for enthusiasts, certainly in this '992' generation. For some, that will be enough to make it a must have, no matter what the cost.



James Fossdyke - 10 Jul 2023



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