Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Porsche listened to its customers’ pleas when it decided to make the new 911 R that debuted today at the Geneva International Motor Show. It takes the 500-horsepower naturally aspirated flat six from the GT3 RS, pairs it with the chassis and suspension of the GT3 and a six-speed manual, and shows drivers a good time rather than the quickest lap time.
Like the 911 R that came before it in 1967, the new one is the lightest in the model line weighing in at 3,021 pounds — a far cry from the original’s curb weight of 1,715 pounds but 110 pounds lighter than the RS. That low weight and high power gets the R to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 3.7 seconds. You may note that’s slower to 60 than both the GT3 and GT3 RS, presumably due to the time it takes to manually change gears. But the narrow body, little Carrera-type spoiler that deploys automatically at speed, and R-specific rear diffuser all contribute to the car’s balance at 200 mph. Yes, the 911 R is the fastest current 911 and the first to reach the 200 mph barrier since the 997-generation GT2 RS. That’s due to less drag on the R’s clean shape, which is devoid of massive spoilers.
One can view the top speed as a byproduct of Porsche’s commitment to give customers the best naturally aspirated flat six it has available in a narrow, simple body because, as Porsche states, the 911 R was built for the corners.
One curious bit of technology on this back-to-basics 911 is the rear axle steering system. Apparently Porsche deemed it beneficial to the driving experience despite the extra weight it adds. The 20-inch center-lock wheels are straight off the GT3 and wrapped in the same 245-millimeter front and 305-mm rear rubber. Porsche’s ceramic composite brakes with massive diameters of 16.1 inches up front and 15.4 inches at the rear are standard, lowering unsprung weight while providing more than enough stopping power.
It should be noted the six-speed manual features a single-mass flywheel, which is lighter and provides crisper throttle response than a dual-mass unit. It also contributes to a sound that imparts the restless demeanor prominent in the 997-gen GT3 RS: gear rattle at idle.
The 911 R distinguishes itself from the Carrera visually with the front and rear fascias from the GT3 plus that prominent rear diffuser. The indented, lightweight magnesium roof from the GT3 RS is also present, while those normal-looking front fenders are actually carbon fiber. Customers may opt for Porsche script on the side of the car below the doors and between the wheels as well as red or green racing stripes that signify the car’s connection to the original 911 R.
Inside occupants are treated to carbon fiber bucket seats with retro houndstooth center inserts. Rear seats are absent. The sport steering wheel is unique to the R, with no rotary dial to adjust engine response and shock settings. The “Sport” button on the center console, as in the Cayman GT4, does nothing but activate automatic rev matching on downshifts, ensuring a mostly analog driving experience. Standard spec also eschews a radio and air conditioning in the name of weight savings, though they can be added at no charge. Like the GT3 RS, the R features straps in place of handles to open the doors. Porsche says even more sound deadening has been removed from the R, resulting in a bit less weight and more ambient noises entering the cabin (such as the beautiful sounds of the flat six).
If you want a 911 R of your own, act fast to secure one of the 991 that will be built — chances are it’ll sell out extremely quickly. Porsche says the 911 R can be ordered now and will reach dealership showrooms in the summer. MSRP is $184,900, excluding the $1,050 destination fee.