This is the Porsche 911 R, and it could be perfect | Top Gear
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This is the Porsche 911 R, and it could be perfect

GT3 RS engine and chassis tricks, manual gearbox, subtle body. Porsche nails it

Published: 01 Mar 2016
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The new 911 R, revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, is the kind of Porsche you dream up with your mates in the pub, but never really believe will happen. A mishmash of parts from the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS, it’s the racing-infused 911 that’s not too bothered about lap times or quarter-mile splits. Its mission statement is to offer the most engaging and emotional experience possible. Think of it as a bigger brother to the Cayman GT4.

It is, at 1,370kg, the lightest 911 in the range, undercutting the GT3 RS by 50kg. And yet nestled in its rump is the same 493bhp 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-six. Yep, no pesky forced-induction here and - drumroll please - the R is offered solely with a six-speed manual gearbox.

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So, despite the weight savings from tossing the RS’s roll-cage and rear-wing, it can only launch from 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, 0.4 seconds behind the RS. On the flip side, without a ruddy great rear wing clawing at the air, the R can slip to a top speed of 201mph – 8mph up on its downforce-obsessed sibling.

The R has some tricks up its sleeve, too, including the option of a single-mass flywheel to let the engine rev even more freely and an automatic rev-matching function on downshifts, one which can be switched off once your heel-and-toe technique is up to scratch.

Further similarities to the 911 GT3 RS include its carbon-fibre bonnet and magnesium roof, rear-wheel steering and mechanical differential on the back axle. It also features the same super-wide tyres (245 section front, 305 section rear) and ceramic brakes as standard (410mm front, 390mm rear), along with forged aluminium wheels. Porsche hasn’t held back with the weight-saving regime either: the rear screen and rear windows are plastic, the rear bench is omitted entirely and, should you wish to go full sadomasochism spec, the air con and audio system are deletable.

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Besides the bonnet and roof, the body is a 911 GT3 minus the fixed rear wing. In its place the R makes do with the Carrera’s retractable rear spoiler and a tweaked diffuser arrangement. Oh, and it comes with twin stripes running nose to tail in either red or green – a reference to its forefather, the 1967 911 R – and Porsche decals along the flanks.

Inside the excellent carbon-fibre buckets from the GT3 RS are upholstered with unique ‘Pepita’ tartan centre panels in acknowledgement of the very first 911 from the 1960s, while fabric door pulls mark it out as one of the elite 911 ‘motor sport’ models, however negligible their weight saving.

It certainly comes with an elite price tag of £136,901 - £5,601 more than the GT3 RS. But considering its enthusiast-targeted spec, and the fact production is limited to 991 cars, that’s probably the cheapest a 911 R will ever be.

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