The Porsche 911 is a car with nothing to prove. It doesn’t need to. Since the 1960s, it’s been a pinnacle of automotive performance and long represented the proud spearhead of German ingenuity and know-how. But what makes Porsche so great is that refuses to rest on its laurels and is willing to prove itself as a company again and again. As a result, there are 21 different variations of the 911 model.
Now, Porsche, it seems, wants to make it 22. But instead of adding a new all-wheel drive variant or a Targa top, it’s bringing its racing pedigree to a slightly more accessible level, with the rumored 911 R. It’ll be the purists’ Porsche — if it materializes. Car and Driver notes that it’ll be shuttled by the engine out of the GT3, mated to — perhaps most crucially — a manual transmission.
Manuals used to be the enthusiasts’ tranny of choice — they still are. But with the advent of dual-clutch transmission technology, rowing your own gears just couldn’t yield the same split-second results that modern, tech-heavy automatics and paddle shifter gearboxes can. And so, hardcore hobby drivers begrudgingly sacrificed the immersive driving experience of the stick shift and largely accepted dual-clutches as the modus operandi for track-day specials.
Porsche has been particularly aggressive about its dual clutch strategy; the only models offering a manual were the entry-level 911s. Everything else has gone went the PDK route, and Porsche purists — probably among the most infamously grumbly and dead-set in the industry — complained.
On the heels of the discussion of the track-only Cayman GT4 Clubsport, those looking for more of the same but with some extra oomph will be happy to know that Porsche is working on an enthusiast-oriented, track-intended 911. It’ll be naturally aspirated and manually-driven, and wear a 911 logo on the back. For some, it’s everything that a Porsche should be.
Horsepower, Car and Driver mused, should fall around 500. Somehow, that’s not a lot in today’s world of 640 horsepower Cadillacs, 700 horsepower Dodge family sedans, and 600-plus horsepower Ford GTs. But Porsches have never been about possessing the most power; it all comes down to the driving dynamics, and if this thing is really as track-focused as it sounds like it will be, the its weight will probably be on par with a mylar balloon filled with packing peanuts.
Despite its track-going persona, Car and Driver expects that the 911 will be a complete sleeper — clean sheetmetal, no go-fast bits like a wing from a 747, canards, splitters, or anything of that nature. A source described the car to Car and Driver as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Paired with the Cayman GT4 Clubsport, Porsche is showing the world that it has no interest in diluting its brand with SUVs and sedans. Though fans like to get uppity about the Macan and Cayenne (“they’re not real Porsches!”), it’s the money generated by those volume models that allow cars like the 911 R to exist. And for that, we’re thankful.