– Southern Italy
Its austere, Gurney-flapped hindquarters don’t flaunt a park bench-sized spoiler, the front fenders are devoid of shark gill slats and hyper aggro aero, and this severely lightweighted road car most certainly couldn’t stick to the ceiling if driven upside down at speed. But what the 2024 Porsche 911 S/T lacks in extroverted bodywork, it more than makes up for in one critical metric: the butt-pleasing, vestibular appeasing ability to deliver tingles and treats to the driver who dares dip into its vast wells of capability.
Allow me to explain.
|Quick Specs||2024 Porsche 911 S/T|
|Output||518 Horsepower / 342 Pound-Feet|
|Curb Weight||3,056 Pounds|
|Base Price||$290,000 + $1,650 Destination|
How RS Becomes S/T
The literal antecedent to the S/T is the GT3 RS, a downforce-intensive track number whose sole raison d’etre is to bang out eye-opening lap times. As such, the big-spoilered bruiser can only be had with a two-pedal automatic, a dizzying suite of electronic suspension adjustability, and upgrades aimed at squeezing optimal lap times at the track. Plucking the 518 horsepower, titanium con-rod equipped, individual throttle body-powered, 4.0-liter flat-six from the RS, the S/T strips its related components to their naked essence in order to shave maximum weight with the goal of ultimate driver purity.
The dual-clutch is swapped for a six-speed, short-throw manual; the power-sucking hydraulic clutch is replaced by an unassisted unit that weighs half as much, and a single-mass flywheel enables blink-quick tachometer spins from idle to 9,000 rpm. Also axed is rear axle steering, whose power thirsty magnets and motors necessitate a bigger, heavier battery.
Lightweighting measures are so aggressive throughout that the S/T to becomes the wispiest model in the 992 lineup, boasting a curb weight of only 3,056 pounds. That’s a full 212 lbs slighter than the GT3 RS, or an American pit bull terrier heavier than the 991-series 911R, which had more lenient homologation rules it had to stick to.
But it’s not all about apples-to-oranges comparisons against its big-spoilered stablemate. Though the S/T’s forward-slashed moniker tips a hat to the racing homologation specials of the late 1960s and 1970s, a more accurate view is to consider it the spiritual successor to the 911R and a punchier alternative to the discreet GT3 Touring. Think of it as yet another specialized, low-volume nod to Things Enthusiasts Like Very Much: a manual transmission, crystal clear steering, less sound insulation and more information about the world around. And, of course, an almighty internal combustion engine that’s like a studio reference speaker for depicting linear horsepower and torque delivery.
Trial By Italian Road
To put a finer point on its finely tuned identity, it took three flights to get to the sprawling mountainous b-roads of Southern Italy, a region that’s dear to the S/T development team’s heart. These are the hills where GT boss Andy Preuninger, product manager Uwe Braun, and racing legend Walter Röhrl gathered to put the model through its paces and perform final performance validation before it went into production.
Swing open the S/T’s driver door and slam it shut, and there’s noticeable lightness thanks to its carbon fiber skin, a material choice that also extends to the roof, hood, and front fenders. The 518 horsepower flat-six kicks to life quickly thanks to its reduced reciprocating mass and feathery flywheel, and the trimmed-down components reveal a noticeable rattle at idle. The clutch requires a bit more effort than in the GT3 Touring, but the six-speed shifter feels short and precise as it clicks into each gear, sliding with a clean, positive feel.
Despite the manic potential to rev to 9,000 rpm, there’s an eerily natural manner to how the gear ratios – which are 8 percent shorter in this setup – mate with the eager engine. Lay into the power, and the motor lurches the S/T forward with more urgency than the GT3 Touring; drop a cog, and blipping the throttle invariably produces a well-matched rev. Though its official 0 to 60 mile per hour time of 3.5 seconds is rated a half-second slower than the near-instantaneously shifting GT3 RS, the S/T nonetheless thrills as it runs through the gears, falling easily into a rhythm of fast upshifts and crisp, heel/toe-matched downshifts. Standard carbon ceramic brakes are powerful and easily modulated.
Preuninger acknowledges that the 911 platform has exhibited scope creep in recent years. "The 992 has gotten to be a pretty big car, everybody knows that," he admits, emphasizing that the goal of the S/T is to feel the smallest and lightest of all its siblings.
Lightness Over Aero
Through a cavalcade of hairpins, the S/T proceeds to achieve the seemingly unachievable, biting into corners with massive front-end grip, transitioning to mid-corner with fluid ease, and powering out beyond each apex with ease. Without the GT3 RS’s complicated rebound and compression adjustability, the only PASM setting available in the S/T comes from the knurled, shock absorber-clad toggle on the dashboard.
Going against Porsche’s convention, tapping the toggle softens, not stiffens the suspension – though the stiffer default setting actually provides plenty of compliance, even through seriously pothole-ridden stretches. The simplicity of these options and the plug-and-play nature of the car lends it an inherent ease. However, the surprising grip of the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires – they’re not even Cup 2 Rs – ups the ante enough to make the S/T feel like it can glide over virtually anything in its way and come out unperturbed.
Through a cavalcade of hairpins, the S/T proceeds to achieve the seemingly unachievable...
Nestled into its carbon fiber bucket seats for hours of aggressive mountain driving, this was the first time I didn’t loath these minimalist perches for their lack of lumbar support. I was so busy coping with the G forces that I apparently exerted my core strength towards lateral, not longitudinal stability, which is a more F1-like emphasis on core and neck strength. While all this mechanical grip might feel less extreme on a racetrack, it’s absolutely boggling on the road, accompanied by outstandingly accurate, communicative steering. As much as I love the extra help of rear axle steering at lower speeds, the S/T’s lightness makes the feature seem like it’s not needed in this application.
Funny to be thinking of this wingless wonder in race car terms, but here we are: pounding through corner after corner as we explore the car’s limits, yet come up short in search for the edge. Preuninger suggests that the S/T’s place in the roadcar/racecar matrix is clear: "It had to be quick," he says, "but not especially on the track. And if you ask me the Nürburgring time of the car, I don’t know, I don’t care."
In a strange way, driving the S/T through a seemingly endless sequence of storybook curves recalibrates my concept of what the 911 platform is capable of. This new lean, mean beast reverts a bit to the early days of the 911, when electronics and algorithms weren’t struggling so hard to proactively rescue drivers when their talent reservoirs depleted. And yet, there’s a deep well of next-level suspension and powertrain tech that enables its performance to surpass that of many race cars.
Though there’s nothing quaint about a nearly $300,000 starting price (not to mention the inevitable sting of outrageous dealer markups), the S/T’s intuitive capability and guttural soul makes it an exceptional instrument of feedback and speed, culminating in a package that’s far more satisfying than the sum of its stripped-down parts. Whether or not you’re one of the lucky 1,963, the S/T will prove itself a 911 for the ages, one of the all-time greats that will mark a significant juncture in history.
- Aston Martin Vantage: 8.0 / 10
- Audi R8: Not Rated
- McLaren 570S: Not Rated
2024 Porsche 911 S/T