The new Porsche 911R just dropped at Geneva, and it’s about as perfect as a modern 911 can be. It’s got the biggest motor, the 493hp 4.0L flat six from the GT3 RS. It’s the lightest 911 model by a fair margin, weighing just over 3,000lbs. But most importantly it succeeds where the 991 GT3 and GT3 RS have failed miserably – IT HAS A MANUAL GEARBOX!
Yes, the 911R immediately became my favorite modern Porsche when it was revealed, and you might expect this article to just go on and on singing its praises. But that’s not why I’m writing this piece. No, as good as perfect as the 911R may be, Porsche has not solved their larger problem yet.
You see, while the 911R is surely a wet-dream of a purist 911, Porsche is only going to build 991 of them in total, and they’re supposedly already sold out. Even with pricing around $200,000 a piece from Porsche, such a limited supply ensures values will spike to $300, $400, or even $500,000 immediately after the cars are delivered. That means the 911R will simply join the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 and 997 GT2 RS in the stratosphere, and be nothing but a pipe dream from most buyers in the market, even those who have the money.
Porsche still has a sizable demand problem here. The 911R does nothing for the buyers who would’ve simply wanted a manual 911 GT3. The number of buyers in the mid $100,000 range far exceeds the number of buyers in the $500,000 range where the 911R will likely wind up. The 911R is a great start as a halo car, but I really hope it’s just a big introduction to a wider line of driver-focused 911 models.
The way I see it, driving fun and fast lap times are no longer on the same path, and Porsche is going to need models that satisfy buyers in each camp. I think they need parallel product lines at the top of the 911 range. For track-focused buyers, it’d be the 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS. For driving enthusiasts it’d be the 911S and 911R.
Essentially the 911S model that I’m proposing here should be the same basic thing as the 911R, just with the 3.8L flat six from the GT3 instead of the 4.0L from the RS. Porsche also might have to do away with some of the extra fancy carbon fiber stuff for the 911S, but that would be okay. End result, the 911S just needs to be a purist 911 with a GT3 engine and a manual gearbox that can be had for around $150,000, give or take.
The 911S also needs to be more numerous than the 911R in terms of production. I’d say Porsche should plan to build 991 911Ss per year for a 3 or 4 year run. That would allow the 911S to satisfy the purist demand, while still keeping it fairly exclusive. In total we’d be talking production of around 3,000 911Ss and 991 911Rs. I think that would quench the thirst of purist Porsche buyers just fine.
So the Porsche 911R is the purist 911 of our dreams, but Porsche still needs to do more to serve purist buyers. I personally have zero interest in the idea of a hardcore 911 without a clutch pedal and a gear lever. It’s a subjective preference, of course, but it’s a sentiment I share with many car enthusiasts out there. If I didn’t want to be as involved as possible in the driving experience, then I wouldn’t buy a Porsche.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A manual gearbox is like cheese to an omelette. You don’t “need” it, but my God does it makes the experience so much more enjoyable.
The Porsche 911R is an omelette with mucho cheese, and Porsche really needs to keep making cars that way.