The Weissach mob considers seven gears needlessly complex to change by hand and, besides, losing the top gear saves an entire kilo of weight. Instead the gearbox retains the original first four ratios, but uses a longer fifth and sixth. The engine is the same 4.0-litre, 493bhp flat-six masterpiece, but because of lower frictional losses in the gearbox, a little more of it finds it way to the rear wheels.
The body is based on that of a standard 911 and while it retains carbonfibre front wings and a plastic rear screen, it entirely lacks the dramatic aero structures of the RS or even the standard GT3. There’s just a normal Carrera rear wing whose only modification is to extend a little further to offer touch more downforce at the far higher speeds the 911 R can reach.
Its lack of rag means it’s the only 911 on sale that’s a genuine 200mph machine. Underneath, however, there is a largely flat floor and rear diffuser, not to mention a titanium exhaust. Overall it’s 50kg lighter than a GT3 RS with a kerb weight of just 1370kg.
On the chassis side, GT3 RS settings have been abandoned entirely: without RS downforce, there’s no need for the suspension to be super stiff to support the body, so the springs come from the GT3 instead, supported by a bespoke damper iteration, reprogrammed rear-wheel steer and a new steering map too.
Tyre sizes drop two sections front and rear relative to the GT3 RS to a 245mm front and a 305mm rear, but Porsche’s carbon ceramic brakes are standard; normally you need to pay extra for those, even on a GT3 RS.
What's it like?
Normally joyous, and on occasion capable of providing an almost spiritual experience. Both are equally important. First you don’t have to be driving like you’re trying to escape an erupting volcano to enjoy it.
The manual gearbox is one of Porsche’s finest of any era, as good as the incredible gearbox still used in the Cayman and Boxster, and it transforms the experience for those who like to feel not merely in touch with their car but properly in charge of it too.
The steering is far lighter than that of a GT3 RS and in moderate driving all the better for it. Whatever anyone says, the feel is still not as lucid as it was in the days of hydraulic steering, but it is genuinely the next best thing.
But if you have such a car, hopefully you know and will take it to somewhere it can be used properly. There you will find it can do things not even a GT3 RS can do. Once traction is re-established it accelerates faster than a GT3 RS, and as the 8800rpm redline approaches, it sounds better than a GT3 RS, too, however ludicrous that sounds.
The real difference, however, is in the car’s feel. Where the GT3 RS darts aggressively from apex to apex, the R flows. The grip on Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres is massive and while we’re assured it drifts beautifully, few sane drivers will be likely to exercise this option in public.
Instead the pleasure comes simply from that rather traditional sense of being at one with the machine, involved in its every action, influencing every outcome, not just directing the action but being in the thick it. Even when not near the limit of adhesion the 911 R is more mobile than the rigidly planted RS, asking more of its driver to maintain a pin sharp line and, yes, offering even more in return.