Porsche says its new back-to-basics 911 R is aimed squarely at driving enthusiasts.
The new R is a 493bhp rear-wheel-drive variant of the rear-engined coupé that has been conceived around the premise of simple driving pleasure rather than all-out lap time potential.
Inspiration for the new model has been taken from the classic 911 R that was produced in limited numbers in 1967 as part of a homologation process for Porsche’s sports car racing programme. It was campaigned in events such as the legendary Targa Florio.
The stripped-down, two-seat R has been developed by Porsche Motorsport to project all the feel, response and interaction of Porsche’s earlier race car-based models in a modern package.
In a move that is sure to win favour among 911 traditionalists, power comes courtesy of the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre, horizontally opposed petrol engine used by the 911 GT3 RS. The six-cylinder unit is mounted on dynamic engine mounts to suppress driveline movement and provide more consistent weight transfer during cornering. It produces 493bhp at 8250rpm along with 339lb ft of torque at an unfashionably high 6250rpm — figures that hint at a peaky power delivery in keeping with 911s of old.
Crucially, the R marks the return of a manual gearbox to the more sporting end of the 911 line-up in the form of a specially developed, short-throw six-speed unit that uses a bespoke set of ratios. It also features a double-declutch function that’s activated by the press of a button. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that appears in the GT3 RS isn’t available even as an option.As is traditional, drive is channelled to the rear wheels through a mechanical locking differential.
Underpinning the new R is a reworked version of the chassis used in the GT3, complete with rear-wheel steering and carbon-ceramic brakes featuring 410mm discs up front and 390mm discs at the rear. Its wheel and tyre package mates 20in centre-lock rims with 245-section tyres up front and 305-section at the rear.
The back-to-basics approach is clearly evident in the R’s styling. Its body is largely shared with the GT3 and it has that car’s plastic bumpers and sills. It also has a bonnet and front wings made from carbonfibre and features the magnesium roof and plastic side windows and rear screen that already appear in the GT3 RS.
However, while the GT3 runs an adjustable rear wing, the R features a retractable spoiler similar to that found on the Carrera in combination with a specially developed diffuser element mounted at the rear, which gives it a far more reserved appearance.
Additional savings have been made in the cabin, which contains less sound deadening material than is used in its more road-biased siblings. The rear seats, air conditioning system and radio have also been jettisoned, all of which helps the R to tip the scales at 1370kg, a full 50kg less than the current flyweight 911, the GT3 RS.
This provides the 911 R with a power-to-weight ratio of 360bhp per tonne, or 13bhp per tonne more than the GT3 RS. It is sufficient, according to Porsche’s official performance claims, to give it a 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and a top speed of 201mph.