Porsche is one of our favorite brands at The Collectors Circle. Famous for its many versions of the 911. Competition has forced the 911 GT3 RS to prioritize lap times over driving enjoyment. The 911 Carrera line has softened, now full of GT cars rather than the wild children of yore. All of this gave Porsche a vacuum of emotion and purity to fill with just 991 examples of its glorious 911 R, a machine focused on putting unadulterated feel and enjoyment back into driving.
Even amongst the diehard Porsche fraternity, just going faster doesn’t work for everybody. They don’t all want the thrill that comes from a high-downforce car running out of grip inches from a concrete wall. Not everybody loves suspensions so tied down that the slightest bump threatens the front splitter’s continued existence. Therefore, the 911 R is just right for us at the Collectors Circle.
The quickest way to turn the 911 into a driver-connected car was to pull the weight out, and the easiest way to do that was to use the 911 GT3 RS as the basis. So it gets that car’s magnesium roof, polycarbonate side and rear glass, carbon-fiber bonnet and front fenders, and lots of aluminum. The air conditioning got thrown out (you can pay to put it back in), as did the multimedia screen (ditto), the audio and navigation systems (ditto, ditto), the rear seats, and even the interior door handles. Cloth straps replace the latter so you can still get out of the car. Eschewing turbocharging in the interest of car-lover must-haves like induction noise, butterfly chirps, intuitive throttle response, and purity of sound, the 911 R simply borrowed the GT3 RS’s 4.0-liter flat-six. So there’s 500 horsepower of engine playing for keeps, the car ripping to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds from a standing start, hitting 200 km/h in 11.6 seconds.
The dry-sump engine revs and revs and feels like it wants to keep revving forever. It reaches peak horsepower at a soaring, wailing 8,250 rpm, though it will keep climbing to 8,500, shoving hot air through its titanium exhaust. Porsche mates the custom-made gearbox to a mechanically locking differential with torque vectoring; the car also gets custom-tuned rear-wheel steering and unique electric power steering software code.
The engine cranks over with an angry gruffness and, dynamic mounts active or not, it can leave the 911 R sitting there with the body rocking left and right at idle. The almost non-existent sound deadening allows the 4.0-liter six to go well beyond delivering noise. Every single tremble from the motor instantly snaps at nerves in the fingers, toes, and anything else inside.
Then the engine’s valving hits 3,500 rpm and it changes timbre and depth, becoming a Porsche flat-six of legend, full of metallic rasp and urgency, and governed by a stiff throttle spring. It’s strong enough to live here most of the time, and it’s nice enough to use the torque peak as a de facto power peak, because it’s still going to be a pretty quick car like that. And you won’t miss out on any of that honeyed creaminess of the engine’s power delivery, its glorious induction noise, the chirping of its throttle bodies as they open to full throttle, or the timbre changes as the revs rise. But then the thing rips past 6,000 rpm and it all changes. Civility and sophistication disappear. The final 2,500 rpm or so are unfettered, incandescent, screaming rage. This doesn’t sound like a flat-six Porsche anymore, doesn’t sound like a V8 or V12 either. It just sounds like a charging pre-gunpowder army, concentrated into one 4.0-liter ball of fury. Somehow this magnificent piece of mechanical theater doesn’t overshadow the rest.
Being softer makes the 911 R a nicer proposition on a winding Swiss mountain pass. It’s not the point-and-shoot exercise of the GT3 RS. Instead it flows, it oozes, and it flits its way from apex to apex, and you almost wish it would do it all slower just so you can enjoy how each corner feels for longer. Almost. Nailing apexes at speed in the 911 R demands more of you than in the fastest 911s. It asks for more accuracy in the way you use the carbon-ceramic brakes, it demands more precision from your throttle inputs and insists on steering corrections all the way through the corner. Eventually, the 911 R will understeer before you realize that it’s so precise a tool you can drive it on the nose or the tail, or both, and you can do it all in the same long corner if you want to.
Porsche. The Collectors Circle loves you.
Retail price USD 185’000 (without extras) while current market price is USD 380’000 – 420’000
When to drive:
A car like the 911R is nice to drive at a curvy Swiss mountain pass. There you can “feel” what Porsche stands for.
What we love about the car:
The limitation of only 991 units makes the car a must have for every Porsche Collector worldwide.
Image: Porsche, https://porsche.com