The New Porsche 911R – There’s Life in The Heel Toe Gearshift Yet.

Just when I thought that the 997 GT3 4.0RS was quite probably the last definitive, cerebral Porsche 911, Andreas Peuninger’s team introduce the 911R. In an interview with Evo’s Henry Catchpole, Andreas sets the record straight on his ethos as design head. His passion for driving is clearly evident as he talks about the process that went into developing the 911R. Throughout the chat, he talks far more about the engineering that goes into the feel and pleasure of driving the 911R that the bare performance stats.

Particularly impressive is the decision to give Porsche drivers back the six speed manual gearbox. For sure, the PDK twin clutch will always deliver a faster shift, a faster lap time and ultimately, will probably be more reliable. But Peuninger’s ethos of designing the car was not to seek out a lap time, but to deliver the purest 911 driving experience in decades. “Our customers said that they didn’t always want a paddle shift, so we took it out”. He also claims, rightly, that this is the lightest 991 series 911. I’ve written before about the death of the manual gearshift, perhaps I was wrong.

As long as we have one of these, there's a need for heel toe
As long as we have one of these, there’s a need for heel toe

Initially, I considered 1370kg to be not especially lightweight. I have always considered a lightweight Porsche 911 to be sub-1000kg. But considering the physical size of the 991 relative to the early cars, plus the multitude of compulsory electronics that a modern car must carry along, that final weight is pretty commendable. Certainly below the Ferrari 458 and a million miles away from a typically fat Nissan GTR’s 1800kg.

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I also thought that nothing else would ever sound like the Mezger 4.0RS engine. A note that quite literally sets hairs on my arms and neck moving when heard from a pit wall. But if the Porsche video is anything to go by, this car’s titanium exhaust delivers an authentic flat six baritone. Just when I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the sound of a four cylinder turbo Boxster engine, Andreas restores my faith.

Beautiful retro badge detailing
Beautiful retro badge detailing

Other thinks to love? That lightweight, single mass flywheel. The press information says ‘optional’ but who wouldn’t specify it? The option to delete the music system and air conditioning are also there, but for me, I’d be adding them. Because the 911R gets us back to the original Porsche ethos. Being able to drive on track on Sunday, then go to work on Monday. Additionally, the lack of wings and spoilers give the car a genuinely, useable look. The stance of the car is just perfect.

The only things I don’t like about the 911R? Apart from the fact that there will only be 991 of them, which will sadly mean that many will not be driven? The double de-clutch button. For me, part of the right to own one of these machines should be proof that you can effectively heel toe without the help of an ECU and a pair of screaming purple race boots….

My perfect 911R spec? The launch colours of red over white, the dogstooth trim, that lightweight flywheel, music and air con and a suspension lift kit for the car ferry.

And make it left hand drive. There are many Porsche GTS Routes across mainland Europe to be explored in a machine like this.

Classic Porsche 911 materials
Classic Porsche 911 materials

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Author: Neill Watson

If you love the sound of the Cosworth V8 as much as the V12 Merlin, the smell of Jet A1 as much as Castrol R and admire the late Ray Hanna as much as Sir Stirling, you’ll find you’re both on the same page. Neill's love of art deco buildings means that his ideal home would be a brilliant white, 1930′s control tower in Southern France, with crisply mown grass, biplane parked on the driveway and a Ferrari 288GTO in the garage. This is something that those around him tolerate, though it does concern them from time to time.

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