Driving the Ruf RT12

On our road trip to Germany with Classic Retrofit last month, I had the chance to try my first water-cooled Ruf Porsche, with a test drive of a Ruf RT-12 currently for sale on behalf of a customer. It was an interesting experience.

My most recent run in a tuned 911 Turbo was in a Manthey M600 997 GT2. Fitted with a series of engine upgrades including Manthey’s high quality intercoolers and a reworked exhaust, this was a ballistic machine, with no shortage of torque to stick through the 2wd transmission. The car has been sold several times in recent years and a passenger ride never fails to impress, or to mildly terrify.

The Ruf RT12 is a different experience. At first glance, this 911 seems almost demure. The smooth Guards Red/Indian Red paint and those five-spoke Ruf wheels sit sweetly together, and the red-stitched interior is a nice place to be. But look a bit closer – where are the Turbo’s side intakes? They’re gone: one part of a Ruf aero package that lifts intakes to above and behind the rear arches, where they work rather better than factory items.

Other bits changed include the suspension, which goes from PASM to Ohlins. The airbox is also changed to a carbon airbox of Ruf design. Spec on this car is fairly simple, with extended leather, Bose, carbon centre console and Ruf’s green-numbered gauges a subtle little tweak. This car has the old dash (pre-PCM3), but it’s not that offensive and you won’t be looking down much in any case.

Built on a 4wd 997 Turbo rather than a 2wd GT2, the RT12 perfectly embodies this company’s user-friendly philosophy. The engine is taken to 3.8-litres and mapped to be docile at shopping speeds. But open the throttle and the beast is unleashed: 650 PS equals 641 bhp at your instant disposal. That shoots this car from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. Other versions make even more power, and gearing changes can take the top speed from 219mph/350km/h on this car to almost 230mph. But of course, we don’t chase from 0-60 all the time, nor do we drive flat-out all day: what we generally do for an entertaining drive is to travel cross-country at speed. So how does the car deal with that?

Ruf RT12 Test Drive

Ruf’s Pfaffenhausen base is centred in farmland, with the smooth local roads set slightly above the fields and giving a great all-round view, way into the distance. For unsuspecting potential buyers to try this car on b-roads, this location is perfect, as visibility is great and the surfaces are generally excellent. I was very excited to have a drive.

Pulling away, the clutch action is solid and shift is well defined – already a step up from standard. Steering feel is excellent and the damping is beautiful: just enough front end bounce to feel like a Porsche, but not too stiff like so many tuned 997s. No tramlining to speak of either: the car just felt ready to go.

No doubt the 997 Turbo is a quick car out of the box, but Ruf’s RT12 is entirely different. My first few overtakes were fairly clumsy as I got my head around the new boost and shift points, but as we clocked up a few more kilometres, things began to gel and the joy of effortless boost was as addictive as ever. This would certainly cost me a licence if it came to live here in speed camera-land.

The chances of this happening with me are fairly remote. Price for this 55,700-kilometre beauty is ten grand shy of €200k: a big saving on the original cost of over €300k, but some way beyond my humble means. Rufs remain exclusive because sharing this incredible passion for Porsche through ownership requires considerable investment. But, if you have that to spend, you could do far worse.

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