New Porsche 911 S/T revealed: is this the best modern 911?
A car built not for lap times but for 'sheer driving pleasure'... with a 4.0-litre that revs like a sports bike
“Honestly, I can’t wait for you to drive it. I know we’re not supposed to, but just switch it on for a moment and rev it. Now feel the gearshift. Good, eh?”
We’re not supposed to switch the car on because we’re in a studio, but even static, ‘good’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting. Because the manual gearshift is only about two inches long, and the engine revs like a sports bike. The urge to just charge the thing through the doors and out onto the road is … strong. The ergonomics are perfect, and although the standard seats are uncompromising-looking carbon buckets (Sports Seats are a no-cost option), it feels and sounds vaguely and weirdly like a Carrera GT. But this is ‘just’ a 911. Mind you, it might just be the best one yet. Welcome to the Porsche 911 S/T.
Ok, so there are more than a few special edition 911s currently gambolling around in the world, from Dakar to Sport Classic, but the S/T is probably something of a first among equals. Designed by Porsche as a present to itself on the 60th anniversary of the 911 (there’s 1,963 planned in honour of the birth year), the S/T revives a grand old name from 1969 when a 911 S was sprinkled with a touch of motorsport fairy dust to become the S/T - a fearsome competition car that did without the aid of big wings and hefty aero. A kind of beautiful Frankenstein’s monster, the S/T was a competition car, but not prolific. You can identify them via a little supplier quirk; they tended to have Minilite rear wheels because Fuchs didn’t make a rim wide enough to satisfy the engineer’s choice of tyre.
Still, the modern S/T follows the same path, though with much more modern vim. Mounted in the back is the naturally-aspirated, 518bhp 4.0-litre boxer from the GT3 RS coupled to that short-ratio manual (with shorter cogs than a GT3). There are no big wings bar a short Gurney flap on the electric rear spoiler, which itself doesn’t raise quite as high as other 911s.
The rear-wheel steer system is ditched to save weight and complexity, and the bonnet, front wings, ‘cage, rear anti-roll bars and shear panel underneath are all carbonfibre. The wheels are centrelock and magnesium, the glass thinned to shave precious pounds. Even the battery has been on a diet, and now consists of a lightweight race-style lithium-ion unit. Cobble all this together with the slim carbon bucket seats along with weight savings from the powertrain and clutch, and the S/T becomes the lightest production 911. With a kerbweight of 1,380kg, it’s 40kg lighter than a manual GT3 Touring.
But a lightweight clutch and single-mass flywheel (they save nearly 11kg on their own) apparently make the S/T a little more tricky to drive than a standard 911. And it's then you start to realise that this isn’t a car for lap times, but as Porsche puts it ‘a highly puristic sports car dedicated to sheer driving pleasure… on winding country roads’. So a B-road blaster rather than a track refugee, designed for delicacy and feedback rather than pure numbers.
Although, saying that, it’s not slow - 0-62 in 3.7 and 186mph top end is enough. Sound familiar? One of the greatest recent-years 911s has to be the proto-iconic 911 R from 2016, and although Preuninger is keen to point out that the S/T isn’t a follow-up or son-of, there are definite familial resemblances. And that was one hell of a car.
So what we have here is Porsche offering up an antidote to the anaesthetic of the pure speed you get from something like an electric Taycan Turbo S with a car that doesn’t try to compete on the numbers and seduces with experiences. It sounds very much like this might be the best modern Porsche 911 for drivers.
And when asked whether he thinks the S/T might be the ultimate modern Porsche 911, Preuninger’s answer is pretty definitive. “I don’t think it is… I know it is…” And that’s enough for us.
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