The Porsche 911 R has been spied testing with minimal disguise, ahead of its speculated launch at the Geneva motor show next year.
The manual-only stablemate of the GT3 and GT3 RS carries no badging in these early spy shots, although a twin central exhaust set-up, with a distinct rear diffuser but no rear wing, suggests it is the 'pure' 911 variant first reported by Autocar in June of this year. These latest spy shots also show the test mule running on the new wheels, also recently seen in spy shots of the upcoming facelifted 911 GT3.
Porsche's hardcore 911 is expected to launch early in 2017, with next March's Geneva motor show being the most likely setting for the new car to make its debut.
The new model is likely to pay tribute to the original 911 R, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. It's expected that the 911 R will be a permanent addition to the 911 family, rather than being a limited-run special edition. The new car is thought to be an entirely distinct entity from any that have been seen in the 16 years since the introduction of the original GT3 in 1999.
Porsche is putting a focus on simple driving pleasure with the 911 R, meaning it will be radically different from the track-based RS models and the standard GT cars that are designed to be usable every day.
The new car will not be engineered specifically to set competitive lap times or provide a sensible means of daily transport. Instead, it will be set up to maximise feel, response and driver interaction. Crucially, it will mark the return of the manual gearbox to the 911 GT range for the first time since the demise of the 997 generation in 2011.
As is clear from the spy shots, the new car is expected to lose much of the aerodynamic addenda that have become synonymous with GT models and come with the narrower body used by base-spec 911s, with the large rear wing of the GT models conspicuous by its absence.
It will most likely have skinnier, less grippy tyres and a chassis set-up dedicated less to generating grip and more towards providing a friendly on-limit balance.
The engine is likely to be similar or identical to the normally aspirated 3.8-litre unit used by the current GT3, despite the move to turbocharging for all non-GT 911s at the end of this year, although Porsche remains tight-lipped about the 911 R's existence, so could not confirm any details about the 911 R.