“All that is complex is useless, all that is useful is simple” -Mikhail Kalashnikov.
The father of the AK-47 was making a point that sometimes it is necessary to step back from constant innovation and embrace traditional ways. The Porsche GT3 RS is a great car, and in most aspects it is the state of the art. But like every other modern car, it is loaded with computers, communications, and entertainment systems. Many publications and customers made it known that offering the top-level 911 without a manual transmission was a travesty. So in a bold move, Porsche took and old page from their playbook and went back to basics. The 2016 Porsche 911 R is a mic drop to every other car in recent history. It has two seats, a steering wheel, and three pedals. Spartan yet elegant is the Porsche 911 R interior.
Dual-clutch automatics can shift faster than any human, but they are heavy and expensive. Even manual transmissions have become too complex, with dual mass flywheels that kill performance. So Porsche went back to basics with a traditional flywheel and pressure plate. Seventh gear was deleted to make room for six stronger gears with ratios close to what is found in the automatic of the GT3 RS.The pedal is stiff, but very consistent and predictable– it has to be in order to survive being coupled to a 500 hp engine. Even the base model Carrera is now turbocharged, so the 911R is one of the last naturally aspirated supercars. The Porsche 911 R engine is the 4.0 liter flat six from the GT3 RS, with the ability to rev to 8,600 rpm. Most of the other 911 R specs are close to the GT3 RS.
Every non-essential system was omitted to save weight. The roof is magnesium and carbon fiber was used for the hood and fenders. Even the famous die-cast hood emblem was replaced with vinyl. With front axle lift and rear wheel steering, the curb weight is a svelte 3,021 lbs. Being six hundred pounds lighter than the 911 Turbo makes it a blast to drive, I just wish I could have kept it for the weekend. You hear everything. You feel everything. And you do it without the outrageous aerodynamics. A full-length belly pan and rear diffuser keep the car glued to the road. Only 991 cars were built, and they are among the last non turbo stick shift cars we will encounter. If you do not enjoy driving, this is not the car for you. Ferdinand would be proud to see such a machine bearing his name, so don’t hide it away in fear of the odometer. The Porsche 911R is as solid as titanium with the precision of a scalpel. Without any options the suggested Porsche 911 R price was considerably less than a convertible Turbo S, a relative bargain for a piece of history.