The Porsche 911 R
Motor car production these days is largely technology driven.
So much so that many modern cars hardly need a driver. Most things are done for us; even throttle input and steering are software controlled. The driver as such is deferent to the technological master who will even brake for you in an emergency situation should you be distracted. Of course technology will continue to win because some of it has proven added safety value, and the rest of it sells cars.
What many seem to have forgotten is that there is something known as the keen driver, such a person buys a car not for the gadgets and gizmos but for the sheer fun of driving. Until recently, the muted plea of the keen back to basics driver has been largely ignored. That’s because the majority of drivers have been seduced (or persuaded) by dual-clutch technology – the volume of sales this achieves will always talk loudest to the commercial ear.
Yet the keener drivers amongst us shouldn’t despair, for a discrete renaissance is developing where manufacturers are recognising that to many the pure joy of driving is more important than a Nurburgring topping lap time along with millisecond gear-changing capability, computer controlled suspension and Formula 1 brakes. Porsche have done the best job of that yet with the new 911 R, the purist road driving Porsche yet.
Best road-going 911
Introduced at this year’s Geneva motor show, the Porsche 911 R is not a track car like the 911 RS, but more the ultimate road car. The 911 R, in the words of development boss Andreas Preuninger, is a Porsche that ‘is purely for the driving’. The essential performance stats are right up there of course, 493 bhp of 4.0 litre flat six power achieves 0-62 mph in 3.8 seconds, and a top speed of 200 mph, but it’s how this car achieves it that matters most.
And so to the tech spec. In admittedly over simplistic terms, it’s a 911 GT3 body-shell married to the GT3 RS’s 4 litre flat-six engine with a new six speed manual gearbox. It’s a substantially lighter car than even the GT3 RS by some 50 kg. This is in part due to the fitting of a magnesium roof, a carbon bonnet and carbon front wings, and even rear plastic glass panels. The gearbox is lighter than a dual-clutch system, saving another 20kg. Sound insulation has been stripped back a little too; that along with a titanium exhaust and plastic rear windows all contribute to the significant weight paring.
At £136,901, only 991 examples will be built (991 being the official current model reference). Whilst remaining strictly purist in concept, it retains Porsche familiar PASM suspension, a switchable throttle blip on downshifts, stability control and ABS of course. There’s no visible rear wing whilst the car is stationery (that detracts away from the purist coupe shape) but subtle aerodynamic tweaks and a smaller retractable rear wing do the job needed, aided by a rear diffuser.
On the road this car promises to be the ultimate engaging experience. It has yet to be driven by the core motoring press, but expectations are unlikely to be disappointed. It is first and foremost an ultimate road driving tool, the Porsche 911 Way – that means it will feel and drive differently to any Porsche previously produced for road and track. What makes this car special is that it combines the best of them all.