Unveiled at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show, the new Porsche 911 R is a pure-bred sports car built to conform to a time-honoured formula; a powerful 500 hp (368 kW) four-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six engine driving the rear wheels, a six-speed manual transmission, and a lightweight body. It is also limited to just 991 examples worldwide.
These characteristics place the 911 R firmly in the tradition of its historic namesake: a road-homologated racing car from 1967. Produced as part of a limited production series, the original 911 R was campaigned in iconic road races of the period, such as the Tour de France and Targa Florio, and also in world record runs.
Like its legendary predecessor, the new 911 R offers an unfiltered driving experience, delivered via systematic lightweight construction and a devotion to maximum performance: this special model has an overall weight of 1,370 kilograms and is the lightest version of the 911. With a high-revving six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine and manual sports transmission, Porsche is once again underlining its commitment to emotional high-performance sports cars. Developed in the Motorsport workshop, the 911 R extends the spectrum of high-performance naturally-aspirated engines alongside the motor sport-inspired, track-bred models 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS.
In the rear of the 911 R lies the very same flat-six ‘boxer’ engine as found in the 911 GT3 RS. The race-bred engine delivers 500 hp at 8,250 rpm and generates 339lb ft at 6,250 rpm.
From a standing start, 0-60 mph is possible in 3.7 seconds. The 911 R, it is only available with a six-speed manual sports transmission. Although the six-speed manual gearbox uses the same casing as the rest of the 991 generation of 911s, the internals have been completely reworked. The result is said to be a beautifully short, precise rifle-bolt action that is somewhat lighter than the rather hefty shift that people will remember from the 997 GT3s.
The 911 R could almost have been made for twisting roads. Fitted as standard with specially-tuned rear-axle steering, direct turn-in and precise handling is guaranteed while maintaining high stability. Originally Andreas Preuninger (head of Porsche’s GT division) had intended to get rid of it but when he tried a car without the rear-wheel steering he realised that the huge sacrifice in terms of agility was too much. There was also talk of a smaller, less grippy tyre and wheel combination too but, as Preuninger explains, he still wanted the car to be fast and agile so Michelin Cup 2 tyres were fitted.
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), also fitted as standard. The discs measure a generous 410 mm diameter on the front axle and 390 mm on the rear.
Motorsport development has adapted the control systems of the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) for the 911 R, tailoring the car for a focused and authentic driving experience. An optional single-mass flywheel for the engine is one example of this, resulting in a significant improvement in spontaneity and high-rev responsiveness of the engine. Preuninger wanted this to be a standard feature of the car, but that didn’t happen; so he suggests that all owners should consider adding this option when they place their order.
With an overall weight of 1,370 kg, the 911 R undercuts the 911 GT3 RS by 50 kg. The bonnet and front wheel-arches are made of carbonfibre and the roof is magnesium, which reduces the centre of gravity. Rear windscreen and rear side windows are lightweight plastic. Additional weight-saving factors are the reduced sound insulation in the interior and the omission of a rear bench seat.
Air conditioning system and the audio system are options only and do not come as standard, a further nod to the weight savings made in the factory.
All the lightweight components of the body and the complete chassis originate from the 911 GT3. However, with a view to road use, the body does not have the fixed rear wing familiar with that model. Instead, a retractable rear spoiler shared with the Carrera models and a bespoke aerodynamic diffuser beneath the rear underbody provides the necessary downforce.
The front and rear apron come from the 911 GT3, with a re-designed spoiler lip installed on the front. The sports exhaust system consists of the lightweight construction material titanium.
Continuous coloured stripes in red or green over the entire mid-section of the vehicle provide a visual cue to the legendary predecessor. The driver and front passenger sit in a carbon-fibre bucket seat, trimmed with bespoke fabric centre panels in Pepita tartan design, a nod to the first 911 in the 1960s. Fabric pull straps on each door are a familiar hint to the focused intent of all 911 models from the GT department.
The new Porsche 911 R is available to order from today in Porsche Centres in the UK and Ireland, priced from £136,901. Limited to 991 units worldwide, first UK deliveries are scheduled for June.
The 911 R is arguably the ultimate road-focused 911 in the 53 year history of the model. It is certain to be appreciated by long-standing fans of the 911, and in particular those customers that have consistently owned, lived with and driven successive generations of this iconic sports car.
This is the car I would buy if I had the means to do so. I would imagine they will be sold out by the end of the month.