Skip advert
Advertisement
Road tests

Porsche 911 Sport Classic 2023 review

There are 911s, and then there’s the Sport Classic. It might be expensive, but it’s also a finely tailored Porsche experience of a different kind

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Find your Porsche 911
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Verdict

If you’re after ultimate performance, be that in straight lines or around corners, this is not the Porsche for you. However, for a true 911 connoisseur the Sport Classic offers a distinct character all of its own, wrapped up in an eloquent package. It’s eye-wateringly expensive, but is a superb modern example of the 911 archetype.

Advertisement - Article continues below

To the uninitiated, Porsche’s current 911 range looks awfully complicated. Ignoring the three available body styles, there’s no less than 14 different variants currently available, ranging from a basic Carrera right through to the Turbo S. You might think, then, that no avenue has been left unexplored, but you’d be wrong. Sitting above these series-production 911s sits a range of limited-run specials that come and go. Some amount to little more than stickers-and-stripes specials but others, like this Sport Classic, are a whole lot more interesting. 

The Porsche 911 Sport Classic is the most expensive 992-generation model yet at £214,200, and despite costing over double what you’d pay for a basic Carrera, has already proven to be extremely popular. With just 1,250 units to be built, its rarity makes the price-tag not unexpected, but the lengths that Porsche has gone to in giving its special a distinct character is. Available with just one engine, gearbox and body option, the Sport Classic cherry picks a unique combination of current 911 elements bundled with retro styling overtones. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

It starts with the body and engine, both derived from the 911 Turbo. Yet while the body itself might share the wider dimensions of the Turbo, it does without the iconic side intake giving it a completely bespoke side pressing. This is matched to the Turbo’s 3.7-litre flat-six petrol engine, but rather than being connected to a dual-clutch PDK and all-wheel drive, it takes a more old fashioned approach by featuring a seven-speed manual and rear-wheel drive.

Advertisement - Article continues below

To keep the manual gearbox from exploding under the strain, Porsche has detuned the engine quite substantially, limiting power to 542bhp and torque to 600Nm, 99bhp and 200Nm down on the Turbo S. This makes the Sport Classic one of the slower 911s to 62mph at 4.1 seconds, but it does keep going to 196mph.  

These might sound like big compromises, but to assume the Sport Classic is slow would be a mistake. It’s incredibly rapid in-gear. Thanks to the sophisticated variable geometry turbine turbos, peak torque is made at just 2,000rpm, so once the turbochargers have had a moment to fill their lungs, performance is phenomenal. There’s a distinct rush as the turbos come on-boost, and with a dropped window you can hear the turbines whistling and popping in a way they don’t on lesser 911s. 

The seven-speed manual gearbox is slick, resilient and feels perfectly matched to the amount of power on board. While Porsches fitted with a manual transmission have been under fire for their yawningly long gear ratios, it doesn’t seem to affect the Sport Classic as there’s so much torque on board it never feels lost in an overly-long ratio. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The best bit about the Sport Classic is its chassis, because rather than prioritising ultimate high speed performance or stability, the retro-vibe continues with a very supple and forgiving suspension tune. Once again, Porsche has taken the lead from the basic Turbo in its setup, which is worth noting as it comes without the PDCC or PASM Sport systems fitted to the Turbo S. As a result, the Sport Classic is not only supple over rough roads, but it also allows a touch more lateral movement that, with the manual transmission, helps you gain a firm grasp of how much grip is capable of being generated at both axles. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Turn-in at high speed and the front will want to wash wide, with the weight sitting right back on the rear haunches. From here, though, you have options, as you can either lift slightly to get a little weight transferred to the front for a bit of extra purchase or you can manage the understeer and feed in the throttle, giving you that typical 911 feeling of endless traction as the full effect of the rear-engined balance is unlocked. 

The criticism that modern 911s need too much speed on board to generate any feel isn’t the case here, as with so much turbocharged grunt hitting just the rear wheels you always feel like the Sport Classic’s alive and virile underneath you. It’s a thrill only some modern 911 models offer, and reveals this car’s key difference from modern Turbos and GT models. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

As a result, the Sport Classic isn’t just retro-inspired in terms of its design, but also feels like a more nostalgic representation of how turbocharged 911s used to drive, with all the speed, capability and refinement inherent in the latest 992 generation. 

Of course, this exceptional driving experience is only made better when packaged with a unique style. Its delicately applied design additions, such as the ducktail spoiler, painted stripes and bespoke carbon fibre roof and bonnet are obvious but certainly not ostentatious. To those unaware, this could be just any 911. 

Inside, the Sport Classic’s interior design features the Heritage Design package available on all 911 variants that pairs either Cognac or Black Nappa leather with houndstooth, or Pepita inserts on the seats and doors. Together with the timber inserts and green backlighting on the dials – both digital and analogue – this makes the interior feel equally as special as the car looks on the outside. Build quality is also exceptionally good, with all the usual 911 trademarks such as a near-perfect driving position and excellent digital interfaces all carried across. 

Even at double the price of a base Carrera, the Sport Classic somehow feels worth its £212,400. Compared to a Turbo S or GT3, it’s expensive, but compared to other supercars that push on the door of £250k, it almost sounds reasonable. 

Model:Porsche 911 Sport Classic
Price:£212,400
Engine:3.7-litre flat-six, turbo petrol
Power/torque:542bhp/600Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph:4.1 seconds
Top speed:196mph
Economy/CO2:22.4mpg/285g/km
On sale:Now
Skip advert
Advertisement
Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

No more EV! New BMW X3 gets petrol, diesel and PHEV power only
BMW X3 - front
News

No more EV! New BMW X3 gets petrol, diesel and PHEV power only

The all-new premium BMW X3 SUV has a sharp new look and cutting-edge tech, but no iX3 EV this time around
18 Jun 2024
New Citroen C3 Aircross gets seven-seats to fight Dacia Jogger, plus £25k pure-electric version
Citroen C3 Aircross - front reveal
News

New Citroen C3 Aircross gets seven-seats to fight Dacia Jogger, plus £25k pure-electric version

Citroen has somehow managed to cram seven seats into its new compact SUV, although the pure-electric e-C3 Aircross is only available with five
19 Jun 2024
Best electric cars to buy 2024
Best electric cars - header image
Best cars & vans

Best electric cars to buy 2024

These are the EVs that should be on your shortlist if you’re thinking about making the switch
5 Jun 2024