Yep, Porsche have finally done it, something we did not see coming at all. They’ve unveiled the new 911 R at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show – fitted with a 500hp/460Nm four-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine which is mated to a six-speed manual sports transmission. Yes, you read right: manual.
The original 911 R (R for Racing) was produced in 1967 and was used for rallying, participated at Targa Florio endurance racing and even tried for several world record runs. Described as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the original Porsche 911R was Ferdinand Piech’s experiment with production based vehicles; how light can it be made, how hard can it be pushed, how long will it last? It was made specifically to replace the Carrera 6 GT prototype race car which failed to complete a record distance attempt of 20,000km, where its front suspension shattered from nearly 10 hours of pounding tarmac on the decaying Monza Autodromo high-speed oval.
With the unnecessary components culled from its interior and with the extensive use of fibreglass on its body and plexiglass similarly for the windows, the weight reduction on the 911 R was so extreme even its rear tail lights had to be replaced with individual taillight lenses (Just like on Magnus Walker’s 911) that weight ½ kg less than the standard part and as a result, it weighs in at just 823 kg.
Power is derived from a Typ 901/22 engine, a twin-spark version of the 901/20 which can be found in the mid-engine 904 and 906 race cars making “only” 210 hp and 152Nm of torque. The original 911 R successfully completed the 20,000km record run, bagging eleven international records at the time, and soon after it had inadvertently gained its seventeenth record for tire consumption in 96 hours.
Like its legendary predecessor, the 911 R maintains the mantra of lightweight construction, maximum performance and unfiltered driving experience. This car tips the scales at just 1,370kg – the lightest production 991 model 911 currently sold. That’s right, lighter than even the GT3 RS by a whole 50kg. Even the manual six-speed is in part of the weight loss programme; according to Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche GT division, the manual transmission is specifically made for the 911 R and weighs 20kg lesser than the PDK gearbox and utilises a single-mass flywheel.
The 911 R’s bonnet and wing are made or carbon, its roof now magnesium. Rear windscreen and rear side windows are lightweight plastic. Rear seats are now an option (delete them, we say!) and whilst air-conditioning and radio/audio system are options, will likely come as standard for cars sold in Malaysia. A lifter system is also optional, raising ground clearance by some 30mm for the front-axle.
On the inside, you get carbon full bucket seats, with the center panels wrapped in Pepita tartan design fabric, a hark back to the early 911 from the 1960s. There’s an “R-specific” GT sports steering wheel, and an “R-specific” short gearshift lever and clutch pedal. There’s plenty of carbon and aluminum badges and trim, along with pull handles that replace the normal door handles.
Pop the rear hood and that four-litre flat-six that stares at you is taken off from the current production 911 GT3 RS. It is tuned to deliver 500hp at 8,250rpm and 460Nm at 6,250rpm. The 911 R sprints to 100km/h from rest in 3.8 seconds and on unrestricted tarmac, is said to hit a top speed of 323km/h. Porsche says the car’s rear-axle steering is specially tuned to guarantee scalpel sharp turn-in characteristics and precise handling while maintaining high speeds. Having driven a fair number of their cars, we have no doubt at this bold statement.
Porsche’s Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) will come as standard, measuring a massive 410mm on the front-axle and 390mm on the rear axle. Wheels are 20-inch forged lightweight with a central lock in matte aluminum, wrapped in 245 and 305 rubbers at the front and back respectively. Party piece has to be the button in the cabin that activates a double-de-clutch function that allows for always perfect gearshifts.
Look properly at the 911 R and you may notice that the front and rear closely resembles the GT3 RS – that’s because both front and rear are taken off the GT3 RS! But that’s not all that’s shared – most of the drive technology comes from the GT3 RS, as do most of the lightweight components, along with chassis. There’s no massive rear wing, but the 911 R gets a retractable rear spoiler, familiar from the Carrera models. The car’s under body and rear diffuser are specific to R-models and provide the necessary extra downforce.
The Sport Exhaust System is made of lightweight titanium, as is the case for the 911 GT3 RS. A redesigned spoiler lip is installed at the front. Optional Porsche logos on the side of the vehicle and colour stripes in red or green running over the centre of the car display the connection to its legendary predecessor. The 911 R is available in white or silver, together with the choice of red or green stripes, which the latter is inspired by the record-setting BP livery car of 1967.
We don’t know yet if any 911 Rs are headed to Malaysia, or if Sime Darby Auto Performance (SDAP) will get any test cars. All we can do now is cross our fingers and hope…