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Driven: The Porsche 911 S/T Is More Than the Sum of Its Amazing Parts

It's our favorite 911. Period.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T front
  • Uses the 518-horsepower naturally aspirated engine from 911 GT3 RS.
  • Extensive weight savings make it the lightest 911 of the current generation.
  • Engineered for road performance, not track work.
  • Close ratio, six-speed manual is the only gearbox.
  • Limited to 1,963 examples.

With so many versions of the 911 currently available, we'll understand if you don't know exactly where this newest version fits into Porsche's iconic lineup. To start, it's equally important to know what the 911 S/T is and what it is not. Based around the engine and lightweight bodywork of the track-focused GT3 RS with toned-down styling similar to the GT3 Touring, the S/T lives at the sharper end of 911 range. But the S/T has no track aspirations and has been engineered to be its best on public roads.

But the market for driver-focused, lightweight 911s with a strong nod to Porsche's history seems to be occupied by a raft of high-quality restoration shops and builders. Companies like Singer and Tuthill have this formula down, but we think Porsche wants to politely remind everyone that it can still do a lightweight, roadgoing ripper of a 911 that happens to have a full factory warranty.

Origin story

If the S/T moniker makes you think of a combination of the 911 S and 911 T, you'd be right. Only it's not for this new model. As with any limited-production 911, it takes some inspiration from the past. In this case, the past is in the form of the 911 ST from the early 1970s. That 911, like many special 911s back in the day, existed so Porsche could see success in racing. Basically, the ST combined the more powerful engine of the 911 S and put it into the lighter-weight, bare-bones 911 T; hence the ST. These cars weren't sold on showroom floors but were instead available for purchase to any and all racers looking to compete in anything from the Targa Florio to the 24 Hours of Daytona.

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1972 Porsche 911 ST front action

Every car was built to order, so there were no two exactly alike. And as for production numbers, it's safe to say there were more than 60 and less than 70 built between 1970 and 1972. There's no specific ST from back in the day that Porsche drew inspiration from for this model; it is instead the ethos of the thing: the lightest body with the most powerful engine.

The new S and the new T

For power, the S/T (note the forward slash) inherits the crown jewel of the 911 range. Straight from the GT3 RS is the 4.0-liter flat-six engine with 518 horsepower and a scintillating 9,000 rpm redline. But whereas the GT3 RS uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (Porsche's PDK), the S/T gets a bespoke six-speed manual. From the shorter-throw shifter to the super short gearing, and from the smaller and significantly lighter clutch to the single-mass lightweight flywheel, every part of the drivetrain has been designed and engineered specifically for the S/T. As for how all of this affects its drivability, we'll get to that in a couple of paragraphs.

While the original ST used a low-spec and lighter-weight 911 T as its base, the new S/T has gone a far more complex and exotic route to add lightness. Like the GT3 RS, the S/T makes extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) panels. But the panels weren't simply carried over to the S/T. As Porsche is adamant that the S/T is purely for road enjoyment, the aggressive aero accoutrements and plentiful scoops and vents are mostly removed from the S/T body panels. There's thinner glass all around — so thin, in fact, that there's no rear window defroster element.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T front

Inside, sound insulation is kept to the bare minimum, carbon bucket seats are standard, and even the carpet is lighter to save as many grams as possible. Going back to the mechanicals, the S/T uses center-lock magnesium wheels as well as carbon-ceramic brakes and does away with the helpful but heavy rear-axle steering altogether. A lightweight sport exhaust system — usually an option on other 911s — is standard. All of these steps drop the weight down to a claimed 3,056 pounds for the standard S/T — a far cry from the original's 2,120-pound curb weight, but that makes it the lightest 911 in today's lineup.

Of course, Porsche does offer power-adjustable seats and more traditional leather upholstery with a retro-themed interior trim found in the Heritage Design package. This package also includes, among other things, unique Shore Blue paint, specially painted wheels and gold badges with the original old-school Porsche crest on the hood.

Take a closer look

A quick walk around the S/T doesn't reveal a Porsche any more aggressive than a GT3 Touring. Much like that car, the S/T goes without a giant rear wing but the active spoiler now has the benefit of a Gurney flap. This trick but simple aerodynamic device increases downforce so the spoiler can stay lower at higher speeds and still provide some benefit. It also helps to preserve the classic silhouette of a road-going 911.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T seat

Assuming you get along with the fixed-back carbon-fiber bucket seats (there is manual fore-aft adjustment as well as a rocker switch for adjustable seat height), getting in the S/T is just like any other 911. Once in, you're faced with the current 911's dash layout but with special green numbering similar to what the first-generation 911 models used. Perhaps the biggest difference, before you start the car, is the steering wheel. It looks normal but the S/T eliminates the drive mode dial. As a matter of fact, drive modes are not available on the S/T. Instead, you, the driver, are the drive mode. The way it should be.

Before you twist the key with your left hand, a quick run through the gears with your right reveals a physically shorter shift lever than what you get in a GT3 Touring as well as shorter throws between the gates. With only fractionally more effort needed to find the next gear and all of the Touring's well-oiled shift action, this is a short-throw shifter done right. And it's a good thing, since you'll need to be quick with your gear changes.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T dashboard

Sounds like history

Bringing the S/T to life doesn't immediately reveal the major differences between this and most every other 911. But a quick blip of the throttle sees the revs rise and fall about as quickly as they do on a sportbike. Remember the lighter, small clutch and single-mass flywheel? Those additions mean less rotating mass, which makes for an engine that revs much faster than most people are used to. In fact, it's a good idea to make a few practice blips before selecting first and pulling away just to make sure you don't lurch it and stall.

You'll also notice the din made by rotating stuff coming from the back of the S/T. That's the lightweight clutch, flywheel, engine and gearbox all working together. It's loud, but it all sounds appropriate and good. It's a reminder that cars are a mechanical thing and that they make noises. The lack of sound deadening brings all of this forward and fills the cabin with commotion, even at idle. It's exactly what you want from a car like this.

Porsche 911 S/T profile

Under acceleration, the increased noise from the engine and sport exhaust is also pleasant to the ear. This naturally aspirated gem offers up a distinct howl at moderate revs before transforming into a legendary wail at nearly 9,000 rpm. You can hear the history in the noise and it's just so addictive.

So addictive that you wind up swapping down a gear or two just to hear the sound of rev-matched downshifts. You can, and should, do that rev matching yourself, but Porsche has given the S/T an auto-blip feature. It's as clinically precise as you'd expect from a Porsche but the S/T defaults to making you do it the old-fashioned way every time you start the car.


Roadgoing nirvana

Driving through the redwoods on twisting two-lane roads in Northern California, the S/T is a brilliant reminder of just how good modern Porsches are. Even at a fast pace, there are no quirks, no tricks to the handling. The S/T is fast. The linear surge of power from the naturally aspirated engine allows you to pick up the throttle much earlier than you would in a turbocharged car, and the traction from the super wide 315 section rear tires tempts you to add power even sooner.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T rear

The turn-in is as you'd expect: super precise. The S/T goes without rear-axle steering but the relatively small size of the 911 makes you forget that other 911s even offer it. This major change necessitated that Porsche retune the steering, slow down the ratio, and even monkey with the locking values of the differential to compensate. The result is a 911 that feels utterly natural and honest at all speeds. Just when you thought a GT3 Touring was the ultimate roadgoing 911 …

The real trick up the S/T's sleeve is its suspension. With the lighter body and weight-shaving magnesium wheels, the S/T rolls on a bespoke suspension tune and manages to combine compliance and computer in a way very few other cars can. As its purpose is purely for the street, the S/T has been tuned to shrug off uneven surfaces, even midcorner bumps, that would put similarly fast sports cars in a precarious situation. There's a bit more body roll than in other 911s but that only serves to make the S/T feel a bit more forgiving and helps you have a better sense of just how close you might be to the limit.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T wheel

The lack of drive modes would suggest that there's no adjustability in the S/T, but there is one button on the dashboard that provides a change. Labeled with the illustration of a shock absorber, a press of this button seems to affect only a minor change but only until you start going really fast. Then, when the S/T would have previously displayed the slightest bit of float over a crest or a bit more suspension compression diving into a dip, the S/T remains tied down. Even with its compliance, the body never feels like it's getting away from its tires and the road-holding feels almost magnetic. Yet, somehow, the ride doesn't really degrade a noticeable amount. You could leave the magical setting turned on, just in case a wild set of corners appears in front of you, and never feel the need to shut it off. One could argue this is the 911 S/T's pièce de résistance.

Practice makes perfect

But it's not all mindless speed with the S/T. Throughout their 60 years, 911s have always told the driver how they prefer to be driven and with the super-quick-revving engine and close-ratio gearbox, this is where the S/T teaches you its particular lesson. Your clutch work needs to be deliberate and your shifts, both up and down, need to be fast. Whereas other cars, even other 911s, allow for even a minute delay between pushing the clutch in and beginning to select the next gear, the S/T offers no such pause. At first, the revs seem to fall before you've even put enough force into the gear lever to move it. This gives you an abrupt reengagement and your head might smack the headrest. You'll feel like an amateur. The same goes for the downshifts. The act of clutching, blipping the throttle and shifting turns into one word: clutchblipshift. Again, your throttle work needs to be on the money or, you guessed it, your head will smack the headrest. You can take it slowly, but if you do, you will need to blip the throttle on every upshift to keep it smooth. You will start out feeling like a bit of a beginner, but after only 30 minutes or so, you start to get better. The shifts are smoother, quicker and nearly seamless. You're always keeping the engine on the boil. The S/T is making you a better driver.

2024 Porsche 911 S/T badge

You never want to stop.

Edmunds says

There are very few cars that are genuinely difficult to walk away from after a drive. And if you couldn't tell by our flowery praise, the 911 S/T is one of them. As if coming up with the starting price of $290,000 wasn't impossible enough, the S/T will be limited to a production run of only 1,963 cars to signify the first year of the 911. To us, this is the best Porsche 911 on sale today. It is a collection of everything Porsche has learned from its 60 years of building 911s and we'd buy one, if we could, in a heartbeat.