Porsche’s star of the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show is the 911 R, a pure-bred sports car built to conform to a time-honoured formula: a powerful 500bhp 4-litre naturally aspirated flat-6 engine driving the rear wheels, a 6-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 1370kg and is thus the lightest version of the 911.
With a high-revving 6-cylinder naturally aspirated engine and manual sports transmission, Porsche is once again underlining its commitment to especially emotional high-performance sports cars. Developed in the marque’s Motorsport workshop, the 911 R extends the 911’s performance spectrum alongside the motorsport-inspired, racetrack-tuned models 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS (driven in anger by Dr Andre Lam here).
In the rear of the 911 R lies the charismatic flat-6 boxer engine with a displacement of 4 litres, familiar from the 911 GT3 RS. The race-bred engine delivers 500bhp at 8250rpm and generates 460Nm at 6250rpm.
From a standing start, 0-to-100km/h is possible in 3.8 seconds. In keeping with the pure character of the 911 R, it is available exclusively with a 6-speed manual sports transmission. The short gearshift travel emphasises the interactive driving experience. The forward thrust of the 911 R continues to a potential top speed of 323km/h.
The 911 R is fitted as standard with specially tuned rear-axle steering, guaranteeing direct turn-in and precise handling while maintaining high stability. In addition, the mechanical rear limited slip differential ensures maximum traction.
Ensuring the greatest possible deceleration are Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), also fitted as standard. The discs measure a generous 410mm diameter at the front and 390mm at the rear. Ultra-high-performance tyres, mounted on lightweight forged aluminium wheels with centre-locking and matt finish, provide assured contact to the road.
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. A double-declutch function, activated by pressing a button, for perfect gearshifts when changing down is also part of the 911 R’s repertoire.
With an overall weight of 1370kg, the 911 R undercuts the 911 GT3 RS by 50kg. The bonnet and front fenders are made of carbon fibre and the roof is magnesium, which reduces the centre of gravity. The rear windscreen and rear side windows are lightweight plastic. Additional weight-saving factors has been achieved with the cabin’s reduced sound insulation and the omission of a rear bench seat. The intense slimming regime includes optional air-con and audio systems.
The exterior of the 911 R gives a reserved impression. At first sight, the body resembles that of the Carrera, while the nose and rear bodywork are similar to the 911 GT3’s.
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 from that model. Instead, a retractable rear spoiler shared with the Carrera models and a bespoke aerodynamic diffuser beneath the rear underbody provide the necessary downforce. The front and rear aprons come from the 911 GT3, with a redesigned spoiler lip installed on the front. The sports exhaust system is constructed from lightweight 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 co-driver sit in carbon fibre bucket seats, trimmed with bespoke fabric centre panels in Pepita tartan design – a nod to the first 911 of the 1960s. Fabric pull straps on each door allude to the focused intent of all 911 models from Porsche’s GT department.
Ahead of the driver sits an R-specific 360mm-diameter GT sport steering wheel, and beside him is a short-shift gearlever. Underlining the special nature of this limited production model, there are carbon trim strips in the cockpit, with an embedded aluminum badge on the passenger’s side indicating the limited number of each 911 R.
The 911 R is arguably the ultimate road-focused 911 in the 53-year history of the model (click here for a look back).