There are two distinct ways you can look at the new Porsche 911 R, writes Andrew Frankel. In cold, objective terms, it’s a car of purest expedience, put together from pre-existing (or soon to be widely available) components, released as a limited edition to help manage the run-out phase of the first generation of "991" 911s, and further mythologise the reputation of the GT-series of 911s produced by Porsche’s Motorsport department.
It has a Carrera body, an engine carried over unchanged from the GT3 RS married to the suspension of a GT3, while even its new and much vaunted manual gearbox exists only because it will become standardised in the next generation of GT3.
And you have to say the strategy has worked a treat. Porsche limited production to 991 units, every one selling the instant they were offered to Porsche’s most favoured customers, the vast majority already owners of 918 hypercars.
As a result the market has gone nuts: one order has been advertised for €745,000 (£585,000), another reputedly for $1.25 million (£861,000). Porsche itself knows someone who’ll charge you €1 million (£785,000) for his place in the queue. This for a car with a list price of £136,901.
The other way to look at the 911 R is to decide that the virtue of a vase lies not in the clay but the potter’s skill; and after two days at its wheel in Scotland, it is hard indeed not to be seduced into this way of thinking.
For the idea behind the 911 R was to produce the ultimate 911 street machine. While the GT3 RS is happiest on the track for which its vast wings and stiff suspension were designed, and the GT3 works best as an all-purpose intercontinental missile, the R was conceived for fun alone.
That’s why it’s shorn of its wings (and also why it will reach 200mph), has relatively modest tyres and, as standard, all Porsche’s lightest materials from its polycarbonate rear screen, past its carbon ceramic brakes discs to its titanium exhaust.
The result is 50kg lighter even than the hardly corpulent GT3 RS. It’s also why the 911 R has, ahem, a manual gearbox that will continue to be offered when the next generation of GT3 appears in the Spring – this despite Porsche having originally stated that GT-series cars were done with manual gearboxes.
Note too the gearbox has six gears rather than the seven found in lesser 911s. The Motorsport men and women are fond of defying the company line and consider seven simply too confusing to operate by hand. And they are correct.
It’s a heady brew. Its lighter weight, more efficient gearbox and the RS engine makes this the fastest accelerating 911 of its kind, and the noise spat out through those titanium pipes at 8,800rpm will replay itself in your head, gear after gear, for weeks to come.
But it is the car’s approach to corners that really sets it apart: with reprogrammed steering for the front and rear wheels (it has both) and revised dampers, the idea was to generate not maximum grip, but feel. Unlike all its other sports cars, Porsche will never quote a Nurburgring lap time for the 911 R because it feels that is irrelevant to its aims.
And so it proves: for all its extraordinary speed and state of the art technology, there is something pleasingly old school about the 911 R, a sense that what matters is not how fast you go, but how much fun you have going fast. It is a riot, and unquestionably the most involving, rewarding sports car this amount of money (in theory, at least) will buy.
What it is not is the new dawn in fast car design those wishing to convert their orders into profit would have you believe. It is a wonderful car, an exceptional car and one that moves the 911 in an encouraging direction – but it is no greater than the sum of its uniformly excellent parts. It is, instead, simply the most enjoyable 911 of the current generation and, having been lucky enough to be offered one, they should be happy with that.
Porsche 911 R
Tested: 3,996cc petrol, six speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Price/On sale: £136,901/sold out
Power/Torque: 493bhp @ 8,250rpm/339lb ft @ 6,250rpm
Acceleration: 0-62mph 3.8sec
Top speed: 201mph
Fuel economy: 21.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 308g/km
VED band: M (£1,120 first year, £515 thereafter)
Verdict: A 911 for those who love to drive. Therefore those that use them only for profit should go to the back of the queue next time.
Telegraph rating: Five stars out of five
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