Pure Gold

Behind the wheel of Ruf's 730-hp Rt12R.

March 2, 2012
Hold the gold 1
Hold the gold 2
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Hold the gold 5
Hold the gold 6

Yeah, it’s Gold with a capital G. Built for Ruf’s Chi­nese distributor, this Rt12R isn’t the first Ruf 911 in an unexpectedly searing hue. It isn’t the first Rt12, either: It’s an evolution of the 650-hp Rt12S. The second R is for Racing, a nod to the single-mass flywheel, carbon-fiber decklid/wing, roll cage, conventional coil-over suspension, and Pilot Sport Cup tires. Oh, and there’s an extra 80 hp, for 730.

Time to put those extra horses to good use. As I squeeze the throttle in fourth gear, the 3.8’s twin turbos breathe into the intercoolers audibly and things get blurry. With today’s unpredictable mix of sun and rain, big speed wasn’t in the plan. But, on dry pavement with no cars ahead, I keep my foot in it — shifting up to fifth and, not long after, sixth. As a few cars appear in the distance, I glance down and can’t be­lieve the digital readout: 298 km/h (185 mph).

298? How did we get here so quickly? I decide to round it off — just as you might. Years ago, a 996 Turbo in the same situation kept decelerating from 280 km/h after I floored it again. The Rt12R, on the other hand, quickly begins to build speed again. We see 308 km/h (191 mph) before we’ve got to shut down. When we do, the 15-inch ceramic-composite brakes slow the car so well that I realize 200 mph might have been possible with a still-decent safety margin.

At lower speeds, the Rt12R’s acceleration is even more impressive. Think a 620-hp GT2 RS, with its 516 lb-ft of torque, feels fast? Guess again. The Rt­12R may weigh 225 pounds more, but it’s rated at 693 lb-ft, or 177 more. It feels even stronger than Ruf’s claims, as though it’s making 750–770 hp rather than its rated 730.

Ruf says the Rt12R is good for 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) in 9.5 seconds. I can’t confirm that Vey­ron/Enzo-rivaling figure today, but I can say this: No 997 I have tested accelerates quite like this one. I’ve driven several with similar power ratings, as well as (a very temperamental) one claiming 1,200+ hp, but none offered the Ruf’s shocking, seamless speed.

The Rt12R may sound unruly at idle — that’s gear rattle, thanks to the light flywheel — but it represents turbocharging at its best. Like the 2.0T in VW’s GTI, the Rt12R’s 3.8 does an amazing job of hiding the fact that it’s turbo­charged. Unlike most turbo engines, it feels like it wants to rev.

The Rt12R’s powerplant is based on the older, 3.6-liter 997-1 Turbo engine — not the 9A1-based 3.8 found in 997-2 Turbos. Ruf uses Mahle pistons, titanium connecting rods, new camshafts, new throttle bodies, an aluminum intake plenum, carefully reworked cylinder heads, and fixed-geometry KKK turbos in place of the Variable Turbine Geometry units in 997 Tur­bos. Maxi­mum boost is set to 1.3 bar.

Also from Issue 200

  • Short Test: Panamera GTS
  • Jerry Seinfeld's 550-03
  • 991 across America
  • Bandido: Hot-rod 356 Speedster
  • Peter Schutz looks back
  • 2011 Rennsport Spyder
  • In aluminum: 356 Abarth GTL replica
  • Swap meet Speedster
  • 362,470-mile, one-owner 912
  • Fairy tale 24: Daytona 2012
  • The Longest Day, 1982
  • Stolen! Is your Porsche safe?
  • Tech Forum: Inside the 911 R
  • Interview: Dennis Aase
  • Smart Buy: 912
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