2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

A generational and genre mash-up creates Porsche’s second iteration of the 911 Sport Classic. DrivesToday deep-dives into the latest Heritage Design car, with the help of those who helped create it.

New 992 Sport Classic revealed

Your deep-dive into Porsche Exclusive’s second Heritage Design 911, as told by the very people who helped create it

Written by Kyle Fortune

Photography courtesy Porsche

It was never a case of if, but when Porsche would get around to creating a new 911 Sport Classic. Boris Apenbrink, project manager of the original 997 Sport Classic and current director of Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur, says, “We had often heard the question from customers: ‘When are you going to do a Sport Classic again?’”

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992 - interior

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

The answer is now, even if it feels like it’s been a long time coming. After all, the original Sport Classic was introduced back in 2009. Rumours of a new one had been circulating long before prototypes and development cars were first spotted out testing. Finally, Porsche’s worst-kept secret has arrived. Its specification has come as a bit of a surprise, with the 992 Sport Classic not spun off the Carrera model line as previously, but instead being based on the Turbo. That, as much as any new 911 derivative introduction, means there are questions being asked of it. What the new car undeniably does is fit with Boris’s assertion that the Sport Classic is “a classic sports car with a manual transmission, rear-wheel drive, a performance-enhanced engine and typical Gran Turismo equipment.” Porsche’s design boss, Michael Mauer adds: “We like to say there’s no future without the past, and we are continuously working on new ideas that keep up with the zeitgeist without neglecting the heritage of the brand.” The Sport Classic, then, is Porsche’s own take of its history, interpreted in the contemporary, and we’re not going to deny that it sounds and looks like a hugely appealing package.

“The Sport Classic is a lot of fun, the vehicle is extremely sporty and designed for absolute driving pleasure”

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

Unashamedly nodding to its forebearer visually, it’s not the styling that initially grabs our attention, beautiful as it is. Instead, it’s that adoption of a bespoke specification 3.7-litre Turbo engine mated with rear-wheel drive and manual transmission. While the designers have been busy plundering Porsche’s history, Porsche’s engineers haven’t been idle, creating a unique powertrain for this new, limited series model. Power for the 3.7-litre, variable vane turbocharged flat six is quoted at 550PS, which is detuned from the Turbo’s 580PS, with torque also dropping to 600Nm from the Turbo’s 750Nm. That’s certain to be a result of some necessary prudence in relation to the Sport Classic only driving a single rear axle, and doing so via a manual transmission, but also a result of the engine breathing only through the top engine cover. By losing the air intakes fore of the rear wheels, the Sport Classic now features a wide body look that’s unique in the current 911 range.

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

Key to the Sport Classic’s driver appeal is the adoption of a manual transmission. Indeed, it’s the sole transmission choice with the new limited series car, because Porsche isn’t offering PDK with the Sport Classic. That manual is the seven-speed transmission derived from the Carrera models as opposed to the 6-speed setup of the GT Department cars. While some might – perhaps justifiably – bemoan this development, the 7-speeder does adopt the GTS’s slightly (1cm) lower gearstick. This small revision markedly improves the shift quality on the Carrera GTS.

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

As such, we’d also expect the Sport Classic’s shift to deliver the greater precision, speed and feel of the Carrera GTS manuals, albeit mated to a more powerful Turbo-derived engine. Like all Porsche’s current manual cars there’s an auto blip function that’ll rev-match on downshifts, while the three-pedal layout dictates a mechanically operated limited slip differential and simpler Porsche Torque Vectoring over the electronically controlled differential and Torque Vectoring Plus of PDK-equipped cars. At DrivesToday we’ve plenty of experience of how demonstrably different Porsche can make its models feel with small incremental changes, so we’re intrigued how the differing power and torque characteristics of the variable-vaned turbocharged engine in the Sport Classic will manifest on the road. Unsurprisingly, the peak outputs of both power and torque differ, being less, but the spread also changes. That’s particularly notable in relation to the maximum torque figure, with the peak 600Nm available from 2,000rpm right through to 6,000rpm. That gives some credibility to Porsche’s assertions that the Sport Classic will deliver grand touring ease partnered with driver-centric appeal. It promises plentiful, in-gear flexibility too, whether you’re in a hurry or lazily block-shifting in traffic.

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

It’s a tantalising powertrain specification that ultimately might be bettered in raw numbers: the 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds would be beaten by a Sport Chrono-equipped, PDK Carrera. However, most are likely to find the quoted 196mph top speed as sufficient. Increasingly, too – and particularly among the enthusiastic driving community – it’s less about outright performance and instead the potential for engagement. Here the Sport Classic is full of promise, because of the interaction its specification should bring. Indeed, its manual/RWD arrangement places it second only to the 997 GT2 RS in the chart of most powerful manual cars ever produced, and nobody ever accused that car of being anything less than hugely exhilarating.

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

The Sport Classic’s chassis should provide the perfect platform to enjoy and exploit its performance. Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur has specified that it rides on a Sports Chassis, which drops the ride height by 10mm. Sports Chassis-equipped cars always feeling particularly special on the road in relation to agility and control. The rest of the dynamic makeup is aided by an equipment list that includes Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control with rear axle steering, and bespoke tuning and calibration of the spring and dampers to suit the Sport Classic’s differing weight and performance characteristics.

Helping manage the stopping power are standard PCCB brake discs. These are grasped by the same calipers as the Turbo but finished in more subtle black opposed to yellow, and sit behind 20/21-inch Fuchs alloy wheels. Those new Sport Classic wheels come with a centre lock for the first time and are now forged (which increases their strength), and come fitted with 255/35 ZR20 and 315/30 ZR21 tyres front and rear, respectively. The PCCB and those light, forged wheels brings clear advantages thanks to the reduction of unsprung mass, which should bring fine wheel control to the benefit of both agility and ride comfort.

2023 Porsche 911 Sport Classic 992

With its driver-focused specification it’s interesting to delve into the detailed specification. Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur has found a balance between the conflicting goals of a fully loaded special equipment model, while also taking measures to save weight. It’s certainly not been on an RS-style crash diet, but there’s a lightweight battery, as well as the reduced (and hence lighter) soundproofing that makes up part of the Lightweight Package on the standard Turbo. The rear seats remain here though, as do 18-way electrically adjustable seats – the sole seat choice in the Sport Classic. The standard sports exhaust is also lightened, too, in a bid not just to manage mass, but also to liberate more emotional sounds from it. Combine all that with the carbon fibre Sport Classic bodywork elements and, more significantly, the binning off of drive to the front axle, and the 992 Sport Classic weighs in at 1,570kg. That’s some 70kg less than the 911 Turbo 992.

It seems to work, too, because in testing Jörg Bergmeister, Porsche’s brand ambassador, and former racer and test driver, says, “The most beautiful combinations often only emerge during the development process and trying things out: the shortened gearlever from the GTS; the auto blip from the GT3; and elements from the Turbo Lightweight Package to enhance the emotional appeal of the sounds. Because of the lightweight measures the interior is less insulated, and the Sport Classic is a lot of fun. The vehicle is extremely sporty and designed for absolute driving pleasure. It’s truly an experience and puts a smile on my face every time I put my foot on the gas.”

He would say that, but DrivesToday is well versed in Porsche’s cherry-picked specification models, and the company has got a habit of producing cars that overdeliver on their promise, particularly with limited series, numbered cars. It’s not just the drive that has the potential to captivate, either. In keeping with its limited status and to ensure it’s worthy of the Sport Classic badge, there’s a lot more to the new model than merely its drivetrain. The detailed specification highlights that Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur has curated a very special car indeed.

The 992 Sport Classic will be a numbered, limited series model of just 1,250 units (Porsche has added 1,000 992s to the original 997 Sport Classic’s 250 production run). That’s a sizeable increase in production compared to the 2009 original, but still a tiny number given the certain demand. If you’re reading this with intent, and doing so without a deposit down, then you’ll have missed the opportunity to buy one.

That’s regrettable because if you take its specification and rarity into account, the 992 Sport Classic represents something of a bargain – even at £209,540 in the UK. There’s little opportunity to add anything to that. We tried via the configurator and could only include about £1,500 of desired extra kit, although if you want the matching Porsche Design watch (which you can only have if you order a car) you’ll need to add it to your invoice and find another £12,500. Do so and you’ll receive a specific link to the Porsche Design watch configurator.

Visually, and correctly, it’s impossible to ignore the 992’s reverential, stylistic nod to its predecessor. The 992 Sport Classic echoes the original’s double bubble roof and there’s a contrasting stripe, in Sport grey, running from the uniquely shaped bonnet, over the roof and terminating at the 2.7 RS-aping ducktail spoiler at the rear.

Daniela Miloševic, who works in Porsche’s colour and trim division, explains: “The first Sport Classic and now the new one both have a stripe design that matches the ‘double bubbles’ – very subtle, two-tone. The 997 had a relatively light grey colour with darker stripes. Now it’s exactly the opposite: the exterior colour is darker and more modern while the stripes are a bit lighter. But – and this is the point – they’re no longer attached as decals to the vehicle like last time, but are painted instead. That’s a huge leap over its predecessor. When you run your fingers over the two strips, you notice the beautiful, smooth surface right away. This has been produced using a much more complex process and is very elegant.”

It’s not just an elegant touch, either. Every panel that the stripe touches is made from carbon fibre, with the bespoke carbon fibre bonnet saving 2.1lkg and that contoured, double-bubble roof also removing 1.4kg of mass.

Pictured in the new colour of Sport grey metallic, 992 Sport Classic customers will also be offered the possibility of choosing Solid black, Agate grey metallic and Gentian blue metallic, each coming with that stripe, number roundel and ‘IROC lettering’, those details all finished in the stripe’s Sport grey hue. The side graphics can be individually specified with a number of your choice, or deleted at no cost, too. Further individualisation will extend the Sport Classic to Porsche’s Paintchoices, although currently Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur is stating it’ll only do so from October 2022 at the earliest, and doing so means sacrificing the stripe.

Regardless of what colour it’s finished in, the Sport Classic’s body is unique to it, and not just the obvious bonnet, ducktail and that contoured roof. The rear wings do without the punctured intakes in front of the rear wheels, giving it the shapeliest rear of any current 911. Doing so wasn’t the work of a moment, as Grant Larson, director of Special Projects at Style Porsche, reveals. “The biggest challenge was definitely the rear wings. We wanted them without the rear intake, but there wasn’t a tool for that, so we had to do a bit of tinkering with an experimental tool.” Boris explains that they used a tool for preseries cars and re-purposed it as a limited production tool, saying, “It was an unusual approach that actually made the impossible possible.”

That’s a hugely significant change, but elsewhere there are signs of obsessive detailing. Most are so subtly incorporated that they might pass a cursory glance, but further scrutiny keeps revealing ever more pleasing touches that add to the overall feeling that the Sport Classic is something eminently desirable. The window surrounds, the rear diffuser and exhaust tips, the engine cover grilles and the light surrounds are all finished in black, though there’s the option – one of only a handful available – to swap these out for a Silver Exterior Accent Package. We wouldn’t take this choice, because the contrast works beautifully, and allows some of the other highlights to pop more effectively, too. Among these are things like the Exclusive Manufaktur badges on the front wings, these cleverly aping the position and shaping of the Reutter or Karmann carrossier (body manufacturer) badges that feature on Porsche’s earliest models.

The Porsche badges themselves, outside and in, are styled as those you’ll find on a 1963 911, with the interior being more overtly retro in its execution compared to the exterior. That’s largely down to the material choices. Semi aniline leather, with its more natural look and softer feel, is finished in either cognac or black, with the seat centres and elements of the door elements covered in Pepita fabric. The familiar, iconic patterned fabric has been inextricably linked with Porsche almost since the company’s conception. It often appeared as special request upholstery on 356s, with Porsche officially offering it with the 911 in 1965.

There’s wood on the dash, its finish open pore, adding warmth and texture to the interior, while the instruments, ahead and the dial of the standard Sport Chrono clock on top of the dash all finished in black, white and green. There’s extensive leather covering the interior, appearing on the sun visors, air vent slats, steering column, mirror console, vehicle document holder, fuse box cover and cupholder. The key also features a soft leather pouch, protecting its body-coloured painting. Heritage door mats, Sport Classic illuminated sills, a perforated Race- Tex headliner and trim on the pillars all combine to sensational effect and if you’re left in any doubt that you’re in a special 911 the numbered plaque on the dashboard will remind you, as will the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur embossed into the lid of the storage cubby between the front seats.

The Sport Classic is the second limited edition model in a series of four, after the 2020 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition. The two cars that will follow it are yet unconfirmed. As Boris says: “Limited series vehicles are always polarising somehow – and very deliberately so. They’re often not self-explanatory, either. That’s exactly what makes them so appealing. It takes a lot of passion and persuasion to bring these vehicles from the concept phase to the decision-making and development phases, and ultimately to the end goal. It takes a small, committed team that believes in it, fights for it and won’t be dissuaded.” On evidence of the Sport Classic, its execution and, in particular, its specification and what it represents – a company still prepared to build daring, engaging, interesting and beautiful cars for drivers – we’re as excited to drive it as we are desperate to see what’s coming next.

BELOW The Sport Classic uses a Turbo body devoid of its usual side air intakes – a significant reworking.

LEFT The fixed rear ducktail spoiler is in the style of the legendary Carrera RS 2.7. BELOW The 992 Sport Classic’s carbon front boot has reprofiled recesses to match the roof’s contours.

RIGHT As well as the Sport grey metallic finish, the 992 Sport Classic is also available in Black, Agate grey, Gentian blue or Paint-to-Sample

OPPOSITE There’s extensive wood and leather in the cabin, while the seat centres and door elements are covered in the iconic Pepita fabric

BELOW Weight-saving measures including carbon fibre bodywork, lighter forged Sport Classic wheels and the absence of drive to the front axle

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