Why the Porsche 911 R is one of the most significant cars of the last 25 years

To mark our 25th anniversary we name the 25 most significant driver's cars launched in the last 25 years. Henry Catchpole presents his case for the Porsche 911 R

Porsche 911 R – front

Three pedals. That’s why I nominated the 911 R. It arrived at a point in 2016 when the H-pattern manual gearbox looked like it was stalling. Paddles and their perfect shifts were sweeping all before them, not least at Porsche where the 991.1 GT3 was offered only with PDK. And the rot wasn’t confined to the upper echelons either, where the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini had gone entirely two-pedal; the Renault Sport Clio had also switched to DCT-only.

But the 911 R seemed to be that most unusual of things, an admission of a mistake. Enthusiasts still wanted the tactility, interactivity and joy of a manual gearbox. The R rectified that and paved the way for the 991.2 GT3 to have the option of a manual (as well as emboldening Porsche’s GT department to take more risks with more cars and limited editions).

> Why the Honda NSX-R is one of the most significant cars of the last 25 years

OK, so it might not have been a total turning of the tide, but I’m sure King Canute would have given it a nod of appreciation. Who knows, perhaps it bolstered BMW to keep offering manuals. Aston Martin, too. I certainly think its success was a bit of an antidote to the trend started by the GT­‑R, and made some of the major manufacturers at least consider the possibility that performance isn’t everything. 

This story was first featured in the 25th anniversary edition of evo. Henry also voted for the Audi R8 (original), Ferrari 458 Speciale, Nissan GT-R and Renault Sport Mégane R26.R to round out his five most significant cars of the last 25 years.

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