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.
It’s probably not a very fashionable thing today, but when you are at maximum attack in a 911 R – or at least as close as is sensible in public – you are reminded of how 911s used to feel. You will never replicate their behaviour because the wheelbase of the 991 chassis is just too long even with rear steer, but the spirit, the back to basics no-nonsense enthusiasm and that sense of adventure is there, just reborn on a plane of dynamic brilliance unimaginable even a few short years ago.
I guess that’s why it’s called the 911 R, recalling as it does the lightest, most driver-focused 911 of all: the original 1967 911 R.
Should I buy one?
You’ll be lucky. Just 991 will be made, all were offered to preferred customers, most already owning 918 hypercars, and all were snapped up immediately. Those few that have come to market since have had almost incomprehensible figures attached to them, one known to have been advertised for €745,000, another owner believed by Porsche to be asking a cool million.
So let’s forget such insanities and try to judge the 911 R with some cool detachment. And the truth is that, for Porsche, it’s a very clever car indeed, created from parts almost all of which already existed: the body of a Carrera, the motor of an RS, the suspension of a GT3 and so on. Even that gearbox, while unique to the car for now, will be standardised for the second generation of 991 GT3 next year, so it’s not as if Porsche wasn’t already going to be making it. Although the suspension and steering systems have a bespoke tune, the hardware is almost entirely a new combination of extant componentry.
Should this matter? Not in the least: the virtue of a vase lies not in the clay, but the potter’s skill, and the skills on show here are as good as they come. The 911 R is not a better car than a GT3 RS, but a different one and one that shows Porsche’s Motorsport department remains focused on the driver and the many different ways he or she might choose to enjoy their driving. And the truth is that, for the money, the only cars capable of offering so rich a driving experience are, in their very different ways, the GT3 RS and the McLaren 570S, two of our three favourite cars on sale right now. They were both five-star cars and so is the 911 R. We can’t rate any machine more highly than that.
Porsche 911 R
Location Scotland; On sale Now (but sold out); Price £136,901; Engine 6 cyls, 3996cc, petrol Power 493bhp at 8250rpm; Torque 339lb ft at 6250rpm; 0-62mph 3.8sec; Top speed 200mph; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1370kg; Economy 21.2mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 308g/km, 37%