Shotgun in the new Porsche 911 R | Top Gear
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Wednesday 27th September

Shotgun in the new Porsche 911 R

TG grabs a passenger ride in the lighter, manual, 493bhp 911 R

  • Three pedals good?

    Hell yes, though we’ll admit it’s not our feet operating those pedals and that six-speed manual today in the 911 R. That job is down to Porsche GT department boss Andreas Preuninger. We’re sat alongside, in the car that he’s described as the most visceral and purist car they’ve made. So there’s sensation to share, and it’s nice to see someone so happy in their work.

    Photography: Richard Pardon

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  • Sounds fantastic.

    It sure does, especially as part of its Slimming World diet the GT department has bunged 4.5kg more sound deadening from around the already mechanically symphonic GT3 RS into the bin. The 4.0-litre flat-six’s glorious noise fills the beautifully sparse (at least by modern standards) cabin with a sound that’s familiar if you’ve ever been lucky enough to be in a GT3 RS. There’s a bit less breathing here, the gasping RS induction being replaced by chatter from the gearbox, clutch and diff. There’s even more so if you choose the single mass flywheel that drops 5kg off the crank - Preuninger insists you do - to make that already rev-happy 4.0-litre even more enthusiastic for reaching the red paint and blipping when downshifting.

  • Sounds like a race car?

    The stripes (green or red, or none at all) and R badge itself might evoke memories of the late 60’s 911 R racers, but this is categorically a road car. When Preuninger pins it, it reacts as you’d anticipate 1,370kg of 500hp 911 would. It’s quick and he’s busy, in a good way. Reaching 62mph in 3.8 seconds, and, with a favourable tailwind and thanks to no drag from big wings, it’ll comfortably exceed the 200mph quoted maximum. It might be for the purists, but it’s also bloody fast.

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  • But engaging?

    Everywhere, yes, that potent 4.0-litre’s such a flexible thing, but it’s the immediacy the manual brings that’s fundamental to the appeal. Preuninger’s obviously expert with it, and enjoying it. The rev match system of standard manual Carreras is retained, the only thing the Sport button switches on. We’d not bother, as surely doing so yourself is part of the fun? There’s a Sports Exhaust button too (press that), a PASM one to stiffen it all up (don’t), and the usual off choice for the traction and stability controls - use if your surname is Rohrl. Those buttons aside it’s refreshingly devoid of electronics, and the infernal beeping and distraction that comes with it all. The 911 R is about purity as a driving experience claims Porsche, and nothing else.

  • And?

    Without pressing the clutch, slotting the bespoke six-speeder through its gate and turning the steering wheel it’s impossible to really ascertain whether Preuninger’s claims of the most engaging 911 yet are true. The fact he says it’s better than a 997 RS 4.0 is telling though. Certainly the R seems to turn in very quickly, thanks in combination to a unique steering set up and the standard fitment of rear-wheel steer. The ride is on the right side of comfortable given its obvious focus, and he’s clearly having no trouble with that stick and the extra pedal either. We’re familiar enough with Porsche’s PCCB carbon ceramic brakes to know they’re as massive in their stopping power as they are in their diameter without stamping on the middle pedal ourselves.

  • Perfection then?

    It just could be, representing something of a shift, sorry, in thinking on sports cars. Sure, it’s a niche, and just 991 will be built, but Porsche’s commitment to the manual transmission is admirable in this paddle-shifted, two pedal world. As far as we can feel with our cheeks on the wrong seat, it’s also one that’s huge appealing indeed. Now, can we drive it? Please...

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