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video: Porsche 991 R driven – the verdict

It’s the most anticipated 911 in years: at last the new 991 R heralds the return of a manual gearbox to a true performance Porsche. Touted by Porsche themselves as ‘a driver’s car for the road’, the R brings back those vivacious sensations of pure driver involvement that the PDK-clad 991 GT3 and GT3 RSs lacked.

The R hasn’t merely adopted a standard Porsche manual gearbox, though. It’s a reworked transmission featuring only six gears, one less than those found on other 991 contemporaries. Gears 2, 3 and 4 are incrementally longer as a result by way of a small (very, very small) compromise for getting rid of that overly long 7th ratio.

Melding a 500hp Rennsport flat six engine to a GT3 body (complete with narrower track over the RS), and with no fixed rear wing, the R slips through the air with gusto. The caveat here is a slightly more nervous rear end at high speeds than say a GT3 or GT3 RS, but then this is a driver’s car, remember, so for us that adds to the R’s appeal.

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The R has plenty of low-down torque available and pulls relentlessly all the way to an 8,500rpm redline, by which time a celestial flat six howl engulfs the cabin thanks to plexiglass rear windows and a comprehensive removal of sound deadening. The R’s pared back nature reveals a slightly more mechanical engine note over the RS too, despite the two cars sharing the same 500hp 9A1 powerplant. It is the pace of the R’s directional changes that enamours us most though, this lightweight firecracker hunting each apex down with unrivalled conviction.

That’s enough of our written notes, though. Watch the video below to see the 991 R in action as we reveal our verdict on this limited numbers, lightweight special.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Sales spotlight: Porsche 996 GT2

The first five instalments of our new Porsche Sales Spotlight online feature have all showcased the earlier, air-cooled patrons of the iconic 911. This week though, we’re stepping into the water-cooled era with some aplomb – thanks to the 996 GT2.

Currently for sale at esteemed Porsche specialists Paragon – winners of Best Independent Porsche Specialist for Sales at the 2015 Total 911 Awards, no less – this GT2 makes for a sublime performance Porsche and is already a true modern classic.

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Finished in Arctic silver, Paragon’s GT2 is well specced, with a rear factory roll cage complementing the standard spec including a limited slip differential and Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes. The factory bucket seats, offering a supreme hold around the torso while catering for wide shoulders, have had the Porsche logo embossed into the headrests as another optional extra.

Most shouldn’t need reminding as to the GT2’s supremacy hailing from the fact its flat six is derived from the 1998 Le Mans-winning 911 GT1, with a ferocious 460hp of turbocharged firepower fed via a six-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels only. To make proceedings a little more interesting, the GT2 comes with no such driver aids enjoyed by its turbocharged sister in the 996 Turbo.

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There is, however, also a more humble side to this widdowmaker. Fitted with air conditioning and cruise control, this 996 GT2 is the epitome of Butzi’s brief for a 911 to be able to thrill on the track and comfort on the way to the cinema. Stainelss steel kick plates and and an extensive Arctic silver interior package finish the car off nicely and, with 48,992 miles on the clock, Paragon’s example is well priced too at £119,995 – as our 2016 collector’s issue will tell you, we believe there’s still some way to go for the 996 GT2 yet.

To check out this Porsche 996 GT2 in more detail, or to see more of the Porsche 911s on offer at Paragon Porsche, visit their website now.

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VIDEO: Porsche 996 Carrera with Milltek exhaust tested on road and track

Even with a slight increase in values this year, the Porsche 996 Carrera represents outstanding value for money. However, one criticism of the car from a driver’s point of view is its soundtrack is too quiet, quashing those dulcet tones usually bestowed upon the owner of a car with a unique flat six engine.

But with so many aftermarket solutions out there, which is best? Total 911 fitted Milltek rear silencers to its project 996 to improve the acoustics of that famous flat six bark. Our video below shows you how the 996 sounded before and after the Milltek silencers were fitted, along with bonus footage of the car on road and track. We love the improved sound, but what do you think ?

 
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Lee’s 996 Carrera diary: springing into summertime with Bilstein

Things are progressing rather nicely with my project 996. I’ve had no mechanical horror stories yet to tell with my Gen2 Carrera 4 (touch wood that continues!), which has allowed me to focus instead on simply making my 911 even better – the chief topic here being handling.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing particularly erroneous about the current handling characteristics of my 996 – and yes, that’s even with it being an all-wheel-drive Carrera, for those sniggering at the back. It’s just that, on the day I collected my Carrera 4 from RPM Technik, I was treated to some seat time in their esteemed 996 CSR, which altered my mind somewhat as to the handling potential of a 996.

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I don’t want to wield the oft-used term ‘go-kart’ when assimilating the characteristics of a car (you’ll find that sort of clichéd, sloppy journalism elsewhere) but to date I have not driven a Porsche 911 that’s so direct, so feelsome and so nimble as the steer of that CSR, and that includes M030-specced cars. Simply put, it was sublime. Thus, as I climbed into the C4 and made the first ever journey home in ‘my’ 911, I promised myself I’d ensure that same feeling at the wheel would transcend on to this very 996.2. No big task, then…

Anti-roll bars and coffin arms will come later but shocks and springs were rightfully going to be my starting point, and I looked no further than Bilstein for this. The sight of Bilstein’s yellow shocks sitting under the arches of some of the world’s greatest cars is ubiquitous with motorsport for me and, with over half the teams taking to the starting grid for the Nürburgring 24-hours using Bilstein products, there’s surely no higher praise needed.

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I opted for Bilstein B16s (PSS10s), which in layman’s terms is a manually adjustable damping monotube gas shock absorber with ten-stage compression and rebound settings, rated from ‘Comfort’ to ‘Sport’. The coilovers are height adjustable, too, which I found favour with as the factory ride height in Carrera form is a little too high for my liking. The kit also comes with new drop links for the front struts, which are noticeably shorter by approximately 20mm and have a slightly different design to the straight-armed factory item.

I took the car to Regal Autosport in Southampton to fit the coilovers, the whole process taking approximately six hours to complete (including tracking once the kit was installed). During installation we discovered that I needed new front top mounts due to large splits in the bushings, perhaps a surprising discovery for a car with only 76,000 miles on the clock. My insistence on using Porsche-only parts here proved an expensive model to follow, setting me back some £400 including VAT for the pair, which I sourced from Porsche Centre Bournemouth.

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That meant the total bill for my suspension overhaul reached north of £2,000, which at face value is a huge amount of money when you consider the average 996 Carrera is currently trading for £15,000. However, let me tell you this: if you’re considering even one modification to positively transform the way your 996 behaves, this is it. The handling of my 996 has been revitalised: from its pin-sharp, nimble nose to its planted rear, the car’s steer is now so direct, so positive, it simply eats corners. There’s much less body roll owing to stiffer springs and the whole 996 feels like it’s glued to the Tarmac right through each turn, no doubt helped by its lower centre of gravity and faster bump and rebound damping.

Speaking of which, you may have previously read I also took my 996 on track for the first time, where I was able to stiffen up damping at the rear by simply by turning the nozzle at the top of the Bilstein struts by a few clicks. I was incredibly impressed by the performance of the Bilstein kit, which yielded far greater chassis control at high speeds – perfect for helping my 996 maintain a natural balance for corner entry. I’ve since dialled down the damping to a softer, middle-of-the-road setting for road use and, while the ride is noticeably firmer over the factory setup, it’s by no means uncomfortable around town. Besides, I’m still on the lookout for the twistiest roads I possibly can – cornering has never been so fun.

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Video: summer evening drive with seven Porsches

One of the best things about Porsche is that it brings people together, right? It’s why there are Porsche clubs, meets and registers all over the globe, providing enthusiasts with a social platform to share their interest in the spectacular sports cars perpetually rolling out of Zuffenhausen.

In similar fashion, Total 911 and a few local Porsche-owning friends gathered for a summer evening’s drive from Sandbanks peninsula to a curry house Swanage, UK, in the meantime showcasing over 35 years of Zuffenhausen engineering with everything from a 911 SC to a 991.2 Carrera S in attendance. We captured the drive on video for your viewing pleasure, so take a look and be inspired to get out and drive with others who share your passion.

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