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Opinion: the 911 R is the 991 we’ve all been waiting for

Porsche purists, you are not in a hazy daydream: rub your eyes and pinch yourself, because this is reality – Porsche HAS affixed a manual gearbox to its current Rennsport flat six engine. This revelation has arrived in the form of the new 911 R, a road car ‘built for corners’ and a fitting homage to the original R, a homologated competition special, which celebrates its 50th birthday in 2017.

In fairness, we’ve expected the 991 R for some time now and, frankly, the day of its arrival simply couldn’t come soon enough. Right from the introduction of the 991-generation’s motorsport platform with the GT3 in 2013, long-time Porsche aficionados have had to get used to the absence of that all-important third pedal in the footwell, replaced by paddleshift on the steering wheel as the GT3 platform went PDK only. It was the same story for the Rennsport model revealed last year, too.

While the argument that PDK is necessary in order to improve lap times is true, I can’t help but feel this has been to the detriment of what has for years made Porsche different to other sports car manufacturers. See, Zuffenhausen’s philosophy has always been ‘It’s not how fast you go, it’s how you get there’. It’s why the tachometer is mounted centrally in the instrument panel of any 911, after all.

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To that ilk, GT and Rennsport 911s have always celebrated the ‘pure’ driving experience in its most exhilarating light and while the 991 GT3 and 991 GT3 RS are brilliant cars, there’s no getting away from the fact they’re just not as exciting to pilot as their forebears, unless you’re on the very limit. Purists agree and have long called on Porsche for a return of the traditional shifter, a wish that’s been administered with the 991R unveiled at the 86th Geneva International Motor Show this week. Even better, this short-shift manual ‘box has just six forward gears, doing away with the long 7th ratio found on all 991 Carreras.

The entire premise of the 911R is refreshingly palatable. Weighing 1,370kilograms (that’s 50kilograms lighter than the 991 GT3 RS), the 991R is a true lightweight by modern standards. The small GT steering wheel has done away with its multi-function gubbins, and the option of a lightweight flywheel mated to what could be the last naturally aspirated Porsche flat six further enhances its purist sporting intent.

Porsche could have gone further with its traditional, lightweight intentions, though. The R’s active rear axle no doubt aids stability in the absence of any fixed rear wing, but the caveat here is added weight. Conversely, PCCBs are a lightweight option over cast iron ‘Big Red’ brakes, but the reality is PCCBs just aren’t necessary on a car for the road, and take away a degree of feel for the driver too (the lack of pedal travel required to scrub speed makes heel and toe difficult).

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Regardless, the 991R has answered the prayers of those wishing for a ‘proper’ performance Porsche 911 again and is arguably the most exciting model since the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 of 2010. Lets just hope this latest engineering marvel will be used for spirited road use as it was intended – though with Porsche 918 owners given first choice for buying one of the 991 available, I’m not holding my breath.

Do you agree? Comment below or tweet us @Total911 with your thoughts.

 

 

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Video: The new Porsche 911 R is the 991 you’ve always wanted

Upon its release at Geneva in 2013, the Porsche 991 GT3 copped a lot of flak for its mandatory PDK gearbox. However, exactly three years later, Porsche has righted this perceived wrong by launching the awesome new 911 R.

An homage to the lightweight Porsche 911R racer released in 1967, the Porsche 991 R features a six-speed manual gearbox mated to the current GT3 RS’s 4.0-litre, 500hp flat six and comes with minimal aerodynamic aids.

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It’s a Porsche 911 built for enjoying out on the open road rather than extracting the ultimate performance from around a track, with the suspension and electronics tuned specifically for the delight of driving purists.

If the details alone weren’t enough to convince us, this official press video from Porsche really gets our pulses racing. Normally these short films are filled with soulless music and voiceovers however, this is probably Zuffenhausen’s best launch film yet, focussing purely on the car, the road and the sound.

To read all about the new Porsche 911 R, check out our extensive launch day profile of the latest lightweight neunelfer now.

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Porsche 911 R to be unveiled at 2016 Geneva Motor Show?

Rumours of a new back-to-basics Porsche 911 have been floating around since the summer. However, details are starting to firm up with sources suggesting that Porsche will launch a 21st Century 911 R at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Initially it was believed the new purists’ Porsche would use some form of ‘GT’ badge to signify the input of Andreas Preuninger’s team in the car’s development. Now though, it looks more likely that Zuffenhausen will revisit the iconic ‘R’ moniker last seen in 1967.

Unlike the original 911R, the Porsche 991 R won’t be a dedicated racer. Instead, it will be built as the definitive driver’s car. That means the second generation 991’s 3.0-litre turbocharged flat six will be shunned in favour of the high-revving 9A1 unit from the current 911 GT3.

911 GT3 engine

Whether it will rev all the way to 9,000rpm is yet to be confirmed but expect upwards of 450hp and a sonorous soundtrack to accompany an analogue driving experience that will undoubtedly be defined by the decision to only use a manual gearbox.

Yes, that’s right. The rumoured 911 R will feature a clutch pedal and seven-speed stick shift rather than the automated PDK unit seen in the GT3. There will also be narrower tyres and no rear wing (as shown in our artist’s impression at the top of the page).

In true 911 R tradition, the latest iteration will feature extensive weight saving, though whether it will hit the scales at less than the GT3 is yet to be seen. A dry weight somewhere south of the current 991 Carrera GTS seems more likely.

911R

Pricing will probably be announced closer to the 2016 Geneva Motor Show next March though there are conflicting rumours as to the availability of upcoming Porsche 991 R.

Some suggest production will be limited to just 600 units (and that they are already sold out) while other sources seem to believe the 911 R will be put into full scale production but that sales forecasts aren’t expecting a huge uptake.

Whatever the case with price and availability will be, if true, the Porsche 991 R looks set to be one of the most exciting neunelfers built since the 964 Carrera 4 Lightweight. We’re already licking our lips at the prospect.

For all the latest news on upcoming Porsche 911s, make sure to bookmark Total911.com now.

991 GT3 wing

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Exclusive: Porsche confirms next 911 GT3 will be naturally aspirated

The Porsche stand has been alive with activity here at the Frankfurt IAA as Zuffenhausen uses the unveiling of their innovative all-electric Mission E concept as a real statement of intent for its motoring aspirations for the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, the new 911 Carrera’s public debut is seemingly underlying Porsche’s more imminent engineering intentions with regards to the powertrains used in its sports cars.

Of course, with the Carrera going turbocharged, the question on the lips of most enthusiasts is ‘what now for the flagship 911 Turbo?’ And, more importantly for purists, ‘will the GT3 remain naturally aspirated?’

Purists, fear not. The high-revving 911 GT3 will live on as a future for naturally aspirated flat sixes is confirmed.

This morning I put these questions to August Achleitner, the man in charge of 911 development at Porsche, who revealed firstly the next generation of GT3 engine WILL use natural aspiration. Purists can breathe a sigh of relief.

Achleitner said: “Some people are concerned about us changing to the turbocharged engine and how this will affect other models, but we would like to keep natural aspiration to run in parallel with the turbocharged engine and so for the next generation the GT3 will be naturally aspirated.”

Porsche’s flagship forced induction model will also stay true to its roots, with Achleitner confirming we should expect another rendition of the 911 Turbo – and soon. He says: “The Turbo will stay. As you can imagine, we will make some little improvements to this car, which will be the next step. I don’t want to tell you too much but you won’t have to wait too long.”

Unlike the 991.2 Carrera, which uses a new turbocharged ‘9A2’-coded flat six, the second-generation 991 Turbo will continue with an improved version of the 9A1 engine, ensuring there’s a concerted distance between the forced induction 911 models in terms of spec (and, no doubt, price).

August Achleitner (right), the head of the Porsche 911 product line, has confirmed the GT3 will remain naturally aspirated on the 991.2 platform.

“The Carrera engine is completely new, so at the moment we have two completely different flat six engines: the 3.8-litre 9A1 used on the turbo, and now the new, smaller 3.0-litre six cylinder. There are no carry-over parts with the new engine.”

Achleitner has hereby served a double-dose of good news to Porsche fans today. The turbocharged Carrera may well signal a new dawn for the Porsche 911 as we know it, but these innovative new technologies lavished on Zuffenhausen’s premier sports car won’t get in the way of that well-oiled model line-up as we know it.

The full interview with August Achleitner will be available in issue 132 of Total 911, in shops and available to download from 7th October.

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