porsche 991 speedster road trip
There’s no heated seat. Forgivable in a Speedster, particularly given the likelihood being that most, if not all, will be used on warm, sun-kissed days and fitted with full bucket seats.
Not this car though, as someone’s ticked the box for Adaptive Sports Seats and saved the £333 extra that would have added the possibility to warm them. The winter sun, such as it is in Northumberland, left us an hour or two back, and the digital temperature in the dial in front of me is reading three degrees. It’s dark and cold but, in the absence of the possibility of a toasted butt and back, I’ve come prepared with thermals, a good coat, hat and gloves.
Sensible in mid-winter, but given the Speedster’s cabin is, unlike its Cabriolet relation, lacking in buffeting preventing equipment, even more necessary. The Speedster should feel open too, the hood an occasional item, which GT boss Andreas Preuninger admits they considered not bothering with. I’ll be leaving it down, then, just as it should be.
We’re in Northumberland because Porsche GB is celebrating its most visceral open-topped cars, the new Speedster joined by its 718 Spyder relation and a Boxster T. The two mid-engined machines are back in the carpark and the other guests preparing for bed. I have other ideas.
Photographer Richard Pardon and I have come up with an idea, stealing the Speedster to make a break for the border. It’s a loose plan, my hometown of Edinburgh our destination, simply because it’s there, the roads between it and us are familiar to me and, well, why not?
There’s a tenuous Speedster link too – the Cannonball restaurant, the last building before our intended Edinburgh Castle destination, is number 356 Castleview, the first of Porsche’s Speedsters, of course, being a 356. That’ll do. Pardon’s convinced and chucks in his cameras, and we point the red, open car north.
It’s cold but clear when leaving, so an early diversion is in order. Kielder Forest is a few miles away, and it’d be mad not to run through it. It’s a place that’s captivated me since the early days of rushing home from school to watch VHS recordings of Top Gear Rally Report, ‘Killer Kielder’ being the famous stages that more often than not determined the result of the Lombard RAC Rally.
We’re obviously not on the gravel forest and fire roads, instead taking the main route through Kielder Forest Park, turning left off the B6320 Pennine Way, through Hesleyside towards Greystead, before tracking around Kielder Water and towards the Scottish border. Kielder Water might be the largest artificial lake in the UK, and I know it’s over to the left of me, but I can’t see it. Actually, I can’t see much, the reach of the standard bi-Xenon headlights limited in the freakish darkness surrounding us, their reach denied not just by the inky blackness, but the undulating roads that characterise the tarmac around here.
It’s little wonder there’s an observatory located in Kielder, there being next to no light pollution in the woodland park. It’s quiet too, except tonight, as the howl of the 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat six is breaking the silence.
For the full road trip story of our night-time 991 Speedster excursion, complete with stunning imagery, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 187 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.