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This road-focused 911 special edition has the potential to be very special indeed

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Before we get into the extra-special subject of this review – the new Porsche 911 S/T – it's worth considering just how rare it is for the German marque to roll out new suffixes for its golden child.

The most commonly seen – the straightforward ‘S’ – first appeared on the engine deck of a 911 back in 1967. Even comparatively recent designations – the most revered of which being ‘GT3’ – are now fully established, often with decades and several model evolutions under their belts.

Occasionally, we are given a letter that might seem entirely new, but only for those who haven’t brushed up on their Porsche lore. A good example of this is ‘R’, deployed for an extra-involving, extra-light, driver-focused 911 in 2016. New? Not quite. Delve into the records and you will see that during 1967 and 1968 a tiny run of ‘911 R’ racers left Zuffenhausen.

It's here that the S/T story begins. After the success of this stripped-out R of the ’60s, Porsche sought to grow the idea but baulked at the cost of obtaining type approval for a new 911 derivative. Instead, it offered motorsport customers racing kit and weight-reduction modifications for the 911 S, before in 1970 offering option M471 (the ‘mehr-minder’ pack, or ‘more-less’) available on road cars. Each of these nimble, powerful cars was still officially a 911 S, but unofficially, inside the factory gates, it was known as an ‘ST’.

Fast forward half a century. As a street-focused, unapologetically ‘analogue’ driver’s car conceived by the minds behind the track-ready GT3 and GT3 RS, the low-slung, pebble-smooth 911 before you is a fine candidate to revive the name. However, and as we’re about to find out, the 992-generation 911 S/T is rather more than a Carrera S with some option packs thrown its way.

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Walter Röhrl, still involved in the development of Porsche’s GT cars, says it’s the best road-legal car he’s ever driven. Quite the statement from a two-time world rally champ and one of the fastest men who ever lived. 

DESIGN & STYLING

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2 Porsche 911 S:T 2024 cornering front

Think of the S/T as a non-identical twin of the 911 GT3 RS. These cars are, in fundamental terms, closely related, but while one went through school then joined the military, the other became a movie star. The Rennsport car is designed to set lap times and be both scintillating and indefatigable at track days; the S/T exists purely to entertain.

Porsche’s GT division, which builds both, hasn’t even bothered to set a Nürburgring Nordschleife time for the newbie because it regards this as an irrelevance. The S/T is intended for the open road – and for “maximum driving enjoyment”.

The S/T has no fixed wing, just a small gurney on the lip of the retractable spoiler. This gurney’s effect means the spoiler extends only at 76mph – 16mph beyond the point at which it deploys on a regular Carrera. The angle of attack is also shallower and looks more elegant.

That starts with the fitment of a manual gearbox. The S/T’s ’box houses the same six cogs as those found in the three-pedal 911 GT3, but the throw is notably shorter and so is the final drive. It means that while 81mph in second gear is required for the atmospheric 4.0-litre flat six to reach its shrieking, 9000rpm denouement in the GT3, in the S/T that drops to 74mph.

It is a small difference but in our experience a significant one. The S/T also gets a new lightweight, double-disc clutch and single-mass flywheel that reduce rotating mass on the crankshaft by 10.5kg compared with the manual GT3. This makes it the most free-revving street 911 of this and possibly any generation.

This sizeable engine is the same motorsport-developed and ‘minimally modified’ 3996cc unit fitted to all current GT division cars. Here it is presented in the same 518bhp tune seen on the GT3 RS. It is dry-sumped, with throttle valves for each cylinder, and unlike the 3.0-litre turbo engine in the mainline 911, it doesn’t have hydraulic valve clearance compensation, instead using racing-style rigid rocker arms. Forged pistons, titanium conrods and an oil supply via the crank make it a touch over-qualified for road use.

Downstream of the engine and gearbox sits a mechanical limited-slip differential and the same contact patch as the GT3, which is marginally narrower than that of the GT3 RS, though in terms of wheel diameter all three cars share the same 20/21in staggered set-up. The S/T’s skeletonised, magnesium forged wheels fit within its arches with a drama and snugness usually seen on concept cars. Images don’t convey the car’s remarkable stance.

Weight-saving is another integral ingredient in the S/T recipe. This is the only 922-generation 911 to officially drop below 1400kg, and the claimed 1380kg makes the car 38kg lighter than a manual GT3 Touring (and 55kg lighter than a PDK-equipped one). On the scales, with its 64-litre fuel tank brimmed, our test car came in at 1408kg, making it 7kg lighter than the comparatively diminutive 997-generation GT3 RS we tested in 2010 – a very nice surprise.

The car’s lightness stems from the widespread presence of CFRP. It’s used for the front wings, and on the doors (borrowed from the GT3 RS), as well as for the artful roll-cage, the rear anti-roll bar, and the shear panel that bolsters the connection between the rear axle and the floorpan. The S/T’s weight-saving programme extends to the starter-battery, which is lighter than that of the GT3 Touring, by 3kg. 

INTERIOR

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5 Porsche 911 S:T 2024 cornering–interior

Several testers remarked on the specialness of the S/T’s cabin. Swing open the featherlight doors and you’re greeted by a cockpit at once charmingly old-world and bleeding-edge in its fit and finish and materials. Equip the Heritage Design interior (Classic Cognac leather with richly textured cloth in the same colour, with black pinstripes), and this is perhaps the most striking driving environment of any street-legal Porsche since the 918 Spyder.

The phosphorus green on the tacho, evoking that of the original 911, is another romantic touch, as are the leather door pulls adorning the door cards.

Door-opening loops are traditionally reserved for only the most lightweight and focused 911s – RS models, essentially. The S/T uses them – though in leather.

Equally, nothing in here is new. Porsche’s familiar carbon buckets are standard issue and, as ever, are as aesthetically pleasing as they are vigorously supportive, cupping you neatly at the base of the ribcage. Seats of a more everyday persuasion are available at no extra cost, though if you want the £3707 carbon-finished roll-cage from the GT3 RS, you need to also have the buckets. We would be tempted to leave the cage out of the equation. Without it, the S/T has plenty of usable space for bags in the area where back seats would usually go.

Combined with the deep ‘frunk’, this most rarefied 992 has equal luggage space to dedicated GT cars such as the Ferrari Roma.

Multimedia system

As befits the most driver-oriented new 911 money can buy, the S/T puts a big, analogue rev counter ahead of you and features a central infotainment touchscreen discreetly integrated into the dashboard.

That said, all 911s currently on sale (with the exception of the GTS, which has a purely digital instrument cluster) do the same. There are some commands on the steering wheel, but they are unobtrusive. The major controls for the multimedia and climate can all be pushed, twisted or toggled. The screen itself is sharply rendered and accepts both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Everything you need is here, except perhaps wireless phone charging.

The S/T instead has a couple of USB-C ports in the armrest cubby. There’s also a 12V socket in the passenger footwell. As standard the S/T is fitted with the Sound Package Plus –an eight-speaker, 150W system. Our car was equipped with Bose surround sound (£1152), which totals 570W and 12 speakers. Clarity is very good, but be prepared to pump up the volume.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

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12 Porsche 911 S:T 2024 dials

Fire up the S/T and you’re treated to one of the most unmistakable sounds in the world of road cars. It’s the nasal, faintly metallic gargle of Porsche’s atmospheric flat six overlaid with the uneven, snare-drum rasp of a single- mass flywheel. It’s an intensely mechanical sound at mesmerising odds with that sport-luxe cabin.

From then on, nothing that could inhibit the pleasure of driving a manual, naturally aspirated sports car has passed through the development net. The pedal weights are bang on – not insipid, not tiring and nicely consistent with one another. Clutch travel is quite long but the window within which the S/T’s uncomplicated driveline becomes unified is not as microscopically narrow as you might fear. The process of babying this fizzing, sensitive, 518bhp 911 into motion soon becomes every bit as intuitive as with a basic Boxster. The car’s lightness helps you.

These S/Ts are supposedly pegged to 186mph but the gearing suggests 201mph would otherwise be possible. A while ago I drove a ‘193mph’ manual, rear-drive 992 GTS to an indicated double ton on an autobahn, so I suspect that, in the real world, the S/T is also a 200mph 911 – still a pretty rare thing.

Getting the S/T off the mark as fast as humanly possible isn’t quite as easy, mind. In first gear, the ECU will only let you dial up 5000rpm, which isn’t quite enough to overwhelm the rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in that way conducive to stunning getaways. We matched Porsche’s claim of 3.7sec to 60mph but felt there was more to come, possibly on rubber that wasn’t so nicely toasted. Perhaps the S/T’s time doesn’t look especially smart in an era when comparably expensive supercars require a second or so less to get the same job done. However, and as should now be quite clear, this 911’s raison d’être is predicated more on subjective matters beyond mere numbers.

And yet, once you have the S/T up and running, boy does it deliver. Hook second gear and the car will catapult itself from 40-60mph in 1.3sec. That is, to the tenth, the same amount of time needed by a Lamborghini Aventador SVJ – a fire-breathing senior supercar if ever there was one. The S/T has superb breadth, too. Its 6.1sec time for the 30-70mph stretch in fourth (aka ‘I need to overtake but can’t be bothered to downshift’) is faster than what either the GT3 or GT3 RS managed, despite both having more closely stacked gears. That said, if on-demand, stomach-emptying performance is what you crave, save yourself £55k and buy a Turbo S.

Changing cogs yourself is an act of deep satisfaction, of course, and now we get to the inimitable character of the S/T. Admittedly, one tester found the gearshift action a touch too short, and not quite in keeping with the car’s overall character, but others adored it. It’s a confident but not overly muscular action that’s dependably on your side. There’s certainly little risk of accidentally requesting first when you meant third and volley-firing valves kerbwards.

This ’box is very slick indeed. For evidence, consider our 0-150mph time. At 18.0sec, the S/T needed a scant 0.3sec more than a PDK-equipped GT3, despite no fewer than three manual shifts having taken place.

And the engine? A masterpiece. In terms of propulsive force, this 4.0 doesn’t hit its extraordinarily vocal stride until 3000rpm, at which point the bassy piston snort starts to harden into intake yowl and light work is made of the chassis. Titanium internals and the single-mass flywheel yield a fierce appetite for revs perhaps unmatched at any level below blue-chip specials such as Gordon Murray’s latest creations. The graphical representation of the power delivery is a perfectly straight line, bolting skywards from idle to 8500rpm. The final 500rpm beyond that point is just for fun.

RIDE & HANDLING

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3 Porsche 911 S:T 2024 cornering rear

Where the S/T most clearly deviates from its GT3-badged relatives, and where it defines itself as one of the sweetest road-going driver’s cars of its era, lies in the suspension tune.

The car uses the two-mode dampers from the GT3 Touring but with a new calibration. In the UK, a 911 GT3 doesn’t work so well below 50mph: its struts need the serious load put through them before the springs and dampers begin to smooth things out. The sweet spot is probably at 90mph or so, which would be a tad problematic.

The S/T reprises the wire-mesh engine cover last seen on the 911 R. Gold model designation is undeniably bling but harks to the 1960s and the days of the ‘ST’ 911s fitted with racing equipment.

The S/T is different. It generates a neat feeling of connection with the road, and an innate accuracy and responsiveness. So far, so 992 GT3. However, the compliance of the S/T’s suspension overlays this with an expensive-feeling delicacy to body movements and a fluid expressiveness that has to date eluded current GT division 911s.

The results are memorable. The 911 S/T has a distinct, laid-back precision and verve about it that’s so rewarding when combined with the 911’s rear-ballasted, subtly oversteer-leaning balance. And because weight transfer is a touch more apparent, you can revel in its ‘pure 911’ handling more easily. A GT3 RS can achieve something similar, but only if you call up Track mode then dial each damper back to a lower degree of bump and rebound control. It’s a bit of a faff.

Porsche’s engineers have also been wise to the fact that combining the GT3’s quite reactive off-centre steering behaviour with softer suspension may have resulted in a call-and-response effect that could easily get quite messy on a challenging stretch of road taken with gusto. The S/T’s helm is therefore slowed a touch and, like everything else about this wonderful car, exists in harmony with the rate of body roll. Bliss.

Comfort & Isolation

The S/T is a comfortable and compliant car but not an isolating one. On the move it is every bit as loud as the GT3 and GT3 RS, with those huge, resonance-generating rear Michelins, the rose joints in the suspension and the lack of acoustic protection normally offered by back seats combining to detrimental effect.

For that special trip down to, say, Le Mans in June, this won’t matter too much, but in general the likes of Ferrari’s 812 Superfast and a tamer 911 GTS are more convivial over long distances.

That said, the Porsche has all the mod cons you could want, and its all-round visibility is superior to any mid-engined supercar. We also like the fact that, ultimately, the breathtaking S/T is ‘just another 911’. It doesn’t constantly draw attention.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

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1 Porsche 911 S:T 2024 tracking front

Porsche will build 1963 examples of the S/T – to commemorate the 911’s 60th birthday last year. As ever with GT division wares, build slots will be difficult if not impossible to secure at the recommended retail price of £231,600, even though, with about one in 10 due to come here, the UK market is well catered for. Unregistered cars are already appearing via third parties, with an asking price not far off £450,000.

If you are lucky enough to bag an S/T, and can cope with the road roar it generates, touring economy is rather good. Our test figure of 30.9mpg equates to a motorway range of 435 miles. Elsewhere, the car rides 20mm lower than a normal 911, but you can option a nose-lifter at £2546. We would have it for the peace of mind.

I’d never before driven a GT division Porsche that didn’t have a Race- Tex or Alcantara rim, but I loved the S/T’s smooth leather wheel combined with those blistering GT3- style direction changes.

Eleswhere, Shore Blue is unique to the S/T and looks superb. In you'd like something a bit more unusual, ‘Paint to Sample’ is £12.5k. The Heritage Design pack also has some lovely touches but some will find it OTT. Also,
the central cupholder is £218 but bottles will get in the way of gearshifts!

VERDICT

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21 Porsche 911 S:T 2024 static

When Porsche launched the current 911 GT3, there was a sliver of disappointment in some quarters over its perceived lack of street-suitability.

Lap time-hunting focus had been prioritised. And when the wingless, less ostentatious Touring variant arrived with the same viscerally agile but often turbulent manner on less than circuit-smooth surfaces, we knew the steely character of the 992-era GT3 had been set for good. It felt like a missed opportunity.

In the main the car was, and remains, among the most scintillating machines ever to wear a registration plate. Its soaring flat-six engine, its jaw- dropping throttle adjustability when driven with commitment and its high-class cabin combine to bring the current GT3 to the brink of perfection. For us, it’s a car undermined only by the very understandable desire of Porsche’s GT division to make it, well, fast.

The 911 S/T could hardly be described as slow. However, taking the blueprint of the ever-so-serious GT3, tactically applying some GT3 RS know-how, then stripping out weight, fitting unashamedly road-optimised suspension and putting you the driver at the heart of the matter has resulted in an utterly magic 911. The greatest ever? Quite possibly.

Richard Lane

Richard Lane
Title: Deputy road test editor

Richard joined Autocar in 2017 and like all road testers is typically found either behind a keyboard or steering wheel.

As deputy road test editor he delivers in-depth road tests and performance benchmarking, plus feature-length comparison stories between rival cars. He can also be found presenting on Autocar's YouTube channel.

Mostly interested in how cars feel on the road – the sensations and emotions they can evoke – Richard drives around 150 newly launched makes and models every year. His job is then to put the reader firmly in the driver's seat.