Gorgeous though the last Porsche 911 Sport Classic was, it didn’t exactly have a lot of substance to it. Underneath all the retro glitz was a 911 Carrera S and the only significant mechanical change was the use of the wider C4S body combined with rear-wheel drive, something you couldn’t otherwise have. But that was your lot, and yet Porsche still charged an enormous amount of money for the thing, which worked out just fine since there were only 250 on offer.
Things are rather different this time around. Porsche has rummaged around in its box of bits to come up with a unique and very interesting configuration for the new 911 Sport Classic - it’s best thought of as a 911 Turbo, but rear-wheel drive, and with a manual gearbox. As has been the case for donkey’s years now, the 911 Turbo is exclusively fitted with an automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.
It loses a small amount of power relative to the Turbo (29bhp), but the drop in torque is much more significant, at a whopping 111lb ft, because Porsche would rather like the gearbox to last. The effect of this drop plus the ditching of the all-wheel drive system and slick PDK dual-clutch automatic gearbox on the 0-62mph time is marked - it takes 4.1 seconds to do the deed, a whole second slower than a Turbo, and four-tenths slower than a less powerful 911 Carrera S with PDK.
But judging a car by it’s performance stats is silly. What’s more important is that in this 911, we have an exclusive configuration and one that’s going to make a much more noticeable difference to the driving experience than the old SC’s slightly wider body. That body is draped in similar aesthetic tweaks to the last Sport Classic, with a delicious ducktail spoiler that looks far bigger IRL than you’d expect, gold lettering on the car’s sizeable rump and a Porsche heritage badge on the rear deck.
You racing stripes, plus Porsche stript running down the car’s flanks, and a race number of your choice (or just a blank roundel, as is the case for our test car). The whole thing treads a fine line between cool and cheesy, leaning more towards the former. People certainly love it - I can’t remember the last time I drove a 911 that got this much attention and admiration. The interior might just be even better, with cognac leather seats stuffed with houndstooth inserts. Glorious.
But thanks to its unique mechanical setup, it’s much more than a pretty face. Gone is the feeling of effortless pace enjoyed by the 911 Turbo - here, the 3.7-litre, 543bhp flat-six feels just a little too much for its chassis to cope with, even with the torque drop, and that makes for something that’s eventful with every full-throttle application.
It’s not wayward, though - it wasn’t ever going to be with an engine sat over rear wheels that are wrapped in 315mm-wide tyres. We’re talking more about just a little squirm from the back end under power to remind you that you ought to be paying a tad more attention here than in the all-wheel drive Turbo.
The flat-six is something of a late bloomer for a modern turbo lump, needing to be cranked round pretty far on the rev counter before the full force of the two turbochargers is felt. This merely adds to the excitement, as does the brief lag-induced delay before all hell breaks loose. The sound, meanwhile, is decent, if not spectacular, but then I haven’t helped the Sport Classic by driving the howling, naturally aspirated 992 GT3 RS a few weeks ago.
It’s the seven-speed manual gearbox used here rather than the six-speed unit found in the 911 GT3, and thus not quite as effortless to slide through the gate. But that doesn’t matter given the extra involvement it brings, and the sense of novelty of driving something so powerful that isn’t hooked up to an automatic gearbox. You don’t often get that anymore.
The pedals have just the right spacing for heel-and-toe shenanigans, and Porsche has at last given us the option to switch off the (admittedly very slick) auto rev-matching system without binning off traction and stability controls. Previously, you could only do that in GT models.
Typical 911 handling traits apply owing to that rear-engined placement, and that means plenty of traction (considering the power output to the rear wheels) and a tendency to understeer. Here, though, you do have the option of tickling the right pedal to balance out the situation with a loss of adhesion at the other end of the car.
Porsche’s electric power steering remains a high point that few others even get close to. It’s fast and natural-feeling, making it easy to place the front end of the car in corners. The suspension could get away with being a bit softer, though. As it is, the PASM adaptive dampers are verging on too firm on some surfaces even in the softest mode.
That aside, though, it’s a wonderfully cohesive package, especially for something made up of bits and pieces never intended to go together. The Sport Classic ought to be good considering the price, though, which is £214,200. And don’t go thinking that gives you a want-for-nothing spec - our car had various options including a Burmester audio system costing over £2,000, bringing the total to an eye-watering £217,727.
That’s more than double a 911 Carrera T (full test on that inbound), and what you’re getting, though great fun, is not double the driving experience. But I’m not sure how much you can moan about the price when all 1,250 units were snapped up. Each and every one of those buyers decided it was worth the money.
And perhaps they’re right. After all, the original Sport Classic with its jumped-up Carrera S base was £137,529 when it was new. Run it through a historical inflation calculator, and you come out with a price rather similar to the new, more bespoke SC. With that in mind, the latter actually seems like decent value.