IF THE customer is always right, then it would appear Porsche has responded to criticism from its loyal followers and put a gearstick back into one of the most extreme versions of the 911 sports car.
At today’s Geneva motor show press day the German company revealed the 911 R. It is claimed to be the ultimate 911 — an assertion that car enthusiasts have become accustomed to over the past 50 years. So what is it about the latest 911 that is getting Porsche devotees so excited?
The new £136,901 model is a spin-off from the 911 GT3 RS, and is aimed at drivers who want more than a high performance machine — they want a highly involving driving experience too.
It shares the 4-litre, flat-six cylinder engine with the GT3 RS, which means it has 494bhp and will rev to 8,250rpm. This drives the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, unlike the GTS RS, which effectively has an automatic gearbox. Porsche says the change helps emphasise the “interactive driving experience”.
Much of the R’s bodywork is shared with the 911 GT3. But unlike that model or the RS version, there is no fixed rear wing; an electrically operated spoiler raises at speed from the bodywork. Underneath the car, a bespoke rear diffuser also helps pin the car to the road.
The bonnet and front wheel-arches are made from carbon fibre and the roof is magnesium. Plastic is used for all back windows and without back seats or sound insulation material, a total of 50kg has been trimmed from the weight of a 911 GTS RS, giving an unladen weight of 1,370kg.
By now, enthusiasts are saying to themselves, “Yes, that’s all well and good, but how fast is it?” Fast enough, we suspect. The 911 R’s 0-62mph acceleration dash is said to take 3.7 seconds and the top speed is 201mph.
This means it’s marginally slower off the mark that a GT3 RS, which uses a PDK dual-clutch transmission and takes 3.3 seconds, but with its slippery bodywork and different gearing the R hits 201mph — compared with 193mph for the GT3 RS.
Tartan trim for the sports seats and fabric straps for the internal door handles give a nod to Porsche’s past. What with those and a gearstick, all that’s needed now is an ashtray and cigarette lighter to complete the car’s retro feel.
The ultimate Porsche 911… but where can you buy one?
Just 991 examples of the 911 R will be made and each costs from £136,901 — over £5,600 more than the GT3 RS it’s based on.
Yet even before it has reached British showrooms, the must-have model is causing controversy. Loyal customers to Porsche tell Driving that, much to their frustration, the new model has been sold out for over six months.
The last models to sell out ahead of being launched were believed to be the 911 GT3 RS and Cayman GT4.
Most drivers would simply shrug their shoulders and accept that they weren’t as quick off the mark as the car itself when it comes to bagging a place on the waiting list for Porsche’s rarest models. But one customer turned to lawyers.
In January, a Porsche Centre in Bolton was ordered to pay £35,000 in damages and around £50,000 in legal fees to Kevin Hughes. The owner of a garage that specialised in restoring classic Porsches, Hughes argued that he had placed a £10,000 deposit with the dealer and was told he was “first in the queue.” The dealer then bumped Hughes down the waiting list.
The car in question was a 911 GT3 RS 4.0 – a model so limited in supply that just 30 cars were allocated to British buyers. Collectors are attracted to such models not only for their thrilling driving experience, but also their ability to rise in value.
After taking his case to the Court of Appeal, judges ruled that Hughes had had a legally binding contract with the dealership, and awarded him £35,000 in damages – the difference between the price Mr Hughes would have paid for the car and the value of a similar model at the time of the hearing.
A Porsche Centre told Driving that it could have sold its allocation of 911 Rs — no more than a couple — tenfold six months ago, and hundreds of times by now.
Porsche told Driving that: “…the car has only launched today and the numbers coming to the UK haven’t yet been decided, therefore it’s possibly a little early to speculate on it being sold out.”