Porsche gave the Sport Classic its best Carrera-line suspension, brakes, and wheels in preparation for the most powerful 911 Carrera engine to date — the first to claim more than 400 horsepower. The Powerkit 3.8, based on the direct fuel-injection sixes used in 2009-on 997 Carreras, was developed for the Sport Classic, and is now available as an option on Carrera S, Carrera 4S, and Targa 4S models.
As with Powerkits past, the new one is an extensive upgrade that starts with ported and polished cylinder heads. Balanced combustion chambers are fed by a new variable-resonance intake manifold, which has six vacuum-controlled flaps that allow it to transition between horsepower and torque-orientated lengths to provide the optimum cylinder charge throughout the rev range. A new exhaust system, a carbon-fiber airbox, and a remapped ECU round out the package.
The result is 408 hp, which arrives at 7300 rpm. Incredibly, this output matches the European 1996 993 Turbo’s peak horsepower figure — without the help of two turbochargers. It’s also 28 horses more than the 8200-rpm 2004 996 GT3, and just 7 shy of the 8400-rpm 2007 997 GT3, while being more economical and cleaner than all of them. While the 3.8 can’t match a Turbo for torque, it still offers 310 lb-ft from 4200 to 5600 rpm.
Out on the road, the Powerkit 3.8 is noticeably stronger than the 3.8 S, and more eager, too. Under full throttle, its deeper lungs let it sing longer and harder to redline. Its signature exhaust note is pitch-perfect all the way from idle to the 7500-rpm cut-out — you can’t help but think this is how all normally-aspirated 911s should sound! Porsche’s engineers say they would have liked to make it even louder — certain markets like Switzerland have strict noise regulations that dictated otherwise — but this Porsche’s inspiring song suffers little from being a few decibels softer.
Then there’s the rest of the car. After just a few miles, it’s clear that the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really is a cliche. For one thing, pictures fail to convey this car’s presence. More important, neither photos nor the factory press release even remotely begin to convey how this 911 adds up to more than the sum of its parts. The car delights on several levels, the visual and tactile delights of its interior and the way its revised 3.8 engine spins up with such enthusiasm and smoothness being just two of them.
The Sport Classic also stands tall compared to other recent special models. Our drive occurred back-to-back with the 2010 GT3 RS and 2011 Boxster Spyder, two Porsches that are hard acts to follow. Any of these three are focused enough that even a short drive will bring a wide smile to your face, and all are cars you can lose your heart to rather than merely respect. One, however, stands out as the best all-rounder: the Sport Classic. Where the new GT3 RS is a civilized track toy and the Spyder is a fun sports car, the Sport Classic does everything that a normal Carrera S will, and more.
Of course, the Sport Classic costs more than the RS and the Spyder combined. It also costs more than the 911 GT2, an also-rare 911 with performance on an entirely different level. In dollars and sense, then, it’s hard to understand the logic behind the Sport Classic. So what was Porsche thinking?
A look at the car from Porsche Exclusive’s viewpoint helps. Consider this: Since the Cayenne SUV was launched in 2003, German tuner TechArt has sold 900 fully modified Cayenne Turbo-based Magnums — this despite the fact other tuners offer modified Cayennes and the fact that TechArt’s engine, suspension, body, and interior modifications effectively doubled the list price of a Cayenne Turbo. When one considers that these were aftermarket customs rather than factory limited editions, Porsche AG’s business case for the Sport Classic comes clear.
We’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not the 911 Sport Classic is worth its €169,300 price tag — but it is the best and most complete driver’s Carrera so far.