Stairway to Heaven – Porsche 911R vs Honda NSX

porsche-vs-honda-1But its rival does look back to a simpler era, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t say it does so wistfully because, well, it’s a 911R and has 500bhp with which to dismiss wistfulness, but its message is clear: driving is better when it’s simple, so let’s strip the complexity out. However, it’s now the start of day two and I’m already regretting my insistence that, to provide the biggest contrast to the NSX, we needed the most stripped-out R for this trip…

We have no aircon. The lack of satnav is no biggie for I have a road atlas and know how to use it, and when you can play tunes through a 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six, you have no need of speakers and amps. But at 6am, when it’s 12°C outside and the best the fan can do is roughly double that, or when it rains and the screen fogs up, I curse.

It wasn’t so bad when we’d been Munich-bound on the autobahn yesterday evening. Open the window a crack and a blast of high-speed air would boost ventilation, even if it did send the empty crisp packets flying. If you are buying a 911 R, then by all means forego the nav and tunes (you gain a handy self-ejecting storage compartment every time you bury it in second), but don’t underestimate just how important it is to be able to regulate your temperature. It can get stifling in here.

Anyway, that aside, the 911 R is perfectly autobahn-adept and habitable. With neither rollcage nor seats in the back, it’s basically a 911 van-with-windows. The one-piece carbon buckets mean things have to be posted through, but hell, you’ve got to expect to make a sacrifice or two. Easy to drive, though – the controls aren’t light, but everything operates with an impeccable heft and consistency. And you’re the one responsible for everything. It feels simple, the cabin empty, the view out the back unimpeded by wings, the suspension taut, the powertrain brawny. There’s nothing, apart from maybe your phone, to divert your attention.


The scale, the grandeur, it’s as if Kubrick has directed my view out

I chuck mine-into passenger’s footwell and concentrate on meshing gears, feeling the mechanicals thrash, the engine yowl. I see 275kph (171mph) and, boy, does it feel good.  I’m fully occupied, caught up in the act of just driving. And this is on an autobahn – how good is the R going to be on the Grossglockner?

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