Think of the GT3 only with a manual gearbox.
The Porsche 911 is currently undergoing some of the most drastic changes in its entire 50+ year existence. In order to secure its future, one of its core elements requires updating: its flat-six engine. With the recent introduction of the facelifted 991, the entire 911 lineup is now turbocharged. It's not only the 911 Turbo anymore. For hardcore 911 enthusiasts, this is yet another signal that their beloved rear-engined sports car is losing its quirky qualities.
These are the same people who went only a little nuts when the flat-six went from being air- to water-cooled with the introduction of the 996 back in 1997. Imagine how they're feeling now and when (gasp!) a hybrid 911 happens, which it eventually will.
But Porsche has never forgotten those most loyal to it, hence the introduction of the upcoming 911R. Due to be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the 911R (that name might change but we think it'll stick) will essentially be a back-to-basics 911 that's all about power, performance, and handling. More specifically, a 911 GT3 with a manual gearbox. Yes, expect that transmission to have seven gears and not six. The current GT3 is only offered with the PDK dual-clutch, but it also has that absolutely wonderful 3.8-liter naturally aspirated flat-six residing in its rear end. Time to put that to even greater use. In this case, however, it'll probably be slightly detuned from the current 475 hp to around 450 ponies.
And it'll be even lighter than the GT3 thanks to lightweight seats and a relatively stripped-down interior. Remember, the 911R will be all about purist driving so there'll be no need for a fancy schmancy (not to mention heavy) stereo and speaker system. For all we know it may even be optional. Porsche is quite experienced at weight-saving methods, such as using fabric straps instead of actual interior door handles on its Boxster Spyder. Also expect for Porsche to tack on narrower tires for a more involving, less grippy driving experience. But perhaps the most notable difference between the 911R and GT3 will be the absence of that massive rear wing. A beefier rear diffuser will be used instead to help make up for some lost downforce.
What we'd really like to see added, however, is a fixed ducktail setup, a la the iconic 2.7 RS. We don't have an exact production number count just yet but expect it to be fairly limited. Wealthy 911 enthusiasts will surely want one and Porsche will decide upon an appropriate output. Pricing? Consider this: if the current 911 GT3 starts at around $140,000, don't expect the 911R to cost much less, if at all. With the arrival of the turbocharged 991.2, Porsche is clearly adapting the 911 to increasing emissions standards while still making sure its performance remains intact. Consider the 911R to be part of a dying breed of naturally aspirated high-performance.