What will the next generation 911 look like? There’s been a lot of speculation in the press, and black-camouflaged prototypes have reportedly been spied on public roads.
Taking in the overall shape and details of Ruf’s latest creation, the RT12R, I’d be pleased to see the classic 911 shape evolve this way. The muscular front fenders work perfectly with the wider, upswept rear arches, creating a 21st century reinterpretation of the distinctive fenders that were a 911 hallmark until they became flatter and more integrated into the bodywork with the 993 generation.
Sit in the driver seat and the view ahead unfolds over the curves of the front quarters. As with 911s of yore, they give you a reference point for the car’s width, helpful since modern Porsches are no longer small cars.
Traditionally, Ruf cars have been very low-key in appearance. But a newer clientele, cognizant of more radically styled cars available in the marketplace, began to demand a more visible return on their investment.
As this was to be a Geneva Motor Show car, a special color that would stand out was chosen. The metallic yellow paint effectively highlights the car’s shape and looks sensational in photos. The red and black stripes combine with the paintwork to form the German national colors, perfect for a 100 percent German car debuting on the world stage.
In the cabin, the steel Integrated Roll Cage (IRC) is a Ruf specialty pioneered as far back as the late 1980s with the CTR Yellow Bird. Offering full rollover protection without the optical and practical drawbacks of a normal bolted- or welded-in cage, the IRC runs close to the pillars and is effectively disguised behind bespoke Alcantara headlining. It is so well disguised you might not even realize it’s there. A corollary is the significant extra stiffening it imparts to the body shell. With around 25 percent greater stiffness than standard, the shell becomes a more stable platform for the suspension to work optimally. It also means that the suspension does not have to be as stiff in the pursuit of handling and grip, to the benefit of ride comfort.
Carbon-fiber trim panels are used on the center console and door panels, and the instrument dials with 400 km/h (or 230 mph) speedometer are also bespoke with lettering in green. Color-coded gold stitching is used throughout. Highly polished stainless steel sill plates and an alloy pedal set are the final touches to the aesthetics of a car whose all-around finish and detailing are quite exceptional.
The RT12R’s bodywork is an amalgam of RT12S and CTR3. The whole front, including the carbon-fiber front wings, front bumper/spoiler and aluminum bootlid are CTR3 parts. The carbon rear wing is shaped like the one on the GT3 RS, with a raised center section to compensate for the different airflow pattern coming over the roof. It sits on Ruf’s own engine cover that’s designed to suck more cooling air into the engine bay.
When Ruf achieved 700 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque with its CTR3 motor in 2008, many thought that this was a glass ceiling in the balance between outright power, drivability and long-term reliability. But the development department always has a few tricks up its sleeves. Three years down the line, the latest incarnation of this twin-turbocharged, 3,746cc engine sports 730 hp at 7000 rpm with a significant boost in the torque output to 708 lb-ft from 3500 to 4000 rpm. The motor is Ruf’s take on the race-proven Porsche GT1 engine block.
While the factory only moved to 3.8 liters with the latest 997 models, Ruf has offered a 3.8 for years. It has a bespoke cast alloy intake manifold and enlarged throttle body, 102mm Mahle pistons with new barrels, connected to its finely balanced steel billet crankshaft by light and immensely strong titanium con-rods. Beyond that, the cylinder heads are ported, polished and gas-flowed, while bespoke intake and exhaust camshafts make full use of the enlarged capacity. The Ruf-modified KKK K24 family turbochargers are set for a maximum boost pressure of 1.4 bar via the recalibrated Bosch Motronic ME7.8 ECU.
The pair of air-to-air intercoolers that sit within the rear quarters have 20 percent more cooling capacity than the factory 997 Turbo equivalents. Ruf has found that having the air intakes on top of the uniquely shaped rear wheel arches works better than on its flanks like the factory Turbo, as the low pressure in this area sucks ram air in more effectively. All-wheel drive is the best way to effectively deploy this level of power, although the RT12R is available with rear drive, four-wheel-drive is the norm. Curb weight is 3,296 pounds in AWD form, 120 pounds less with rear drive only.
On startup, it takes only one blip of the throttle to know that this engine is connected to a single-mass flywheel. The revs rise and fall quickly, and the engine feels really responsive despite the fact that turbocharged motors always give the impression that you’re pushing a column of air around.
The slight gear chatter when the clutch is disengaged is another clue, but the drivetrain is so well balanced that this is minimal and certainly not an issue for a hard-core enthusiast. The heavy-duty clutch makes your left foot work at slow speeds even if it is never an issue on the fly.
The superior traction of AWD off the line is telling. The RT12R takes just 3.4 seconds to reach 62 mph from rest. Its top speed of 225 mph makes it the fastest Ruf car to date.
The biturbo flat six is perfectly tractable and well behaved around town. It will not complain even if you drive around in Third gear at 1200 rpm. So long as you then accelerate away gently on part throttle, it will pick up smoothly and start to flex its muscles once you have passed 2000 rpm.
On the open road, the other face of this potent monster motor shows itself. In Third gear, it starts with a firm push in the chest at 2500 rpm, and serious thrust showing itself 1000 rpm later. By the time you pass 4000 you’re really flying, with a rush of pure speed that is as intoxicating as the accompanying Le Mans Group C Porsche sports prototype soundtrack.
I slowed down enough to try the same thing in Second, and was rewarded with a display of truly bombastic in-gear acceleration that had the back squatting down, and the four-wheel-drive system singing for its supper. The 730 horses certainly felt like they were all present and accounted for.
The corollary of big power and torque is ease of driving, and you don’t have to use the revs, certainly not 7000 rpm, to get around quickly on normal roads. The tractability of this engine means that most traffic can be dispatched with a whiff of throttle in Third or Fourth gear on a country road, so if you plan your overtakes properly, stress levels on both car and driver will be low.
The stiff body shell allows relatively soft suspension settings to be used to the benefit of ride comfort on the road. The coilover suspension uses Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers made to Ruf’s specifications. The relatively soft setup ensures a good secondary ride that nicely rounds off bumps at town speeds. At high speeds, the chassis assumes rock-solid control over the proceedings, and the combination of ace suspension control and all-wheel-drive allows you to confidently deploy the engine’s massive output in safety.
All is not rosy, however, and my test-drive threw up a question of subjective feel turning into bends in the middle ground between a canter and seriously fast driving. In this middle ground, I detected a hesitation in the rear axle on turn-in, when the back end seemed to be in limbo for a second. It was as if the rear suspension bushings were out to lunch for a moment before the application of power compressed them and everything returned to normal. Since Ruf uses solid bushings on this track-oriented car, it might be a geometry issue.
That said, once on throttle in the corner, everything was fine again, and it was business as usual for the RT12R’s awesome mechanical grip and fine handling.
A special car from a special company, the Ruf RT12R is an incredibly fast and well-resolved road legal track-day car that is civilized enough to be driven daily. However, it’s the look that really captivates. Thanks to the dynamic CTR3 front end, the familiar 997 shape takes on a whole new persona. It’s the perfect 21st century interpretation of the classic 911.
Longitudinal rear engine, all-wheel drive
3.8-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve. Balanced crankshaft, 102mm Mahle pistons, titanium rods, custom cast alloy intake manifold, enlarged throttle body, ported heads, custom camshafts, Ruf-modified KKK K24 turbos, custom air-to-air intercoolers, Bosch Motronic ME7.8 ECU
Ruf-spec Eibach/Bilstein coilovers
Six-piston calipers with 380mm rotors (f),
Four-piston calipers with 350mm rotors (r)
Wheels and Tires
Ruf centerlock alloys, 9x19 (f), 12x19 (r)
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup, 245/35 (f), 325/30 (r)
Carbon front quarters, front bumper spoiler, aluminum bootlid, aluminum doors, custom rear quarters, Ruf decklid, carbon rear wing
Ruf Integrated Roll Cage, carbon panels on center console and doors, contrasting gold upholstery stitching
Peak Power: 730 hp @ 7000 rpm
Peak Torque: 708 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
0-62 mph: 3.4 sec.
Top Speed: 225 mph