The Pfaffenhausen-based German car builder RUF is synonymous with Porsche, one of the most iconic car brands in the automotive world and a starting point for many tuners and car specialists around the world. Two hours southeast of the brand’s Zuffenhausen birthplace, the headquarters of Alois Ruf’s company are based. Home to the finest and most powerful sports cars ever created using the Porsche heritage embedded in their work.
RUF’s ability to take a perfectly good German sports car, tear it apart, build it back up and then re-brand it has allowed it to acquire a large and loyal group of fans. Using seven years of experience with the Turbo-series, the specialist released their first Rt 12 at the Essen Motor Show in November 2004. This RUF Turbo was based on the 997 Carrera and had a 650bhp 3.8 liter twin-turbo engine.
In 2009, the successor to the Rt 12, the Rt 12 S was introduced. The main differences were an integrated roll cage and a ceramic brake system. The output of the twin turbo engine was upgraded to 685bhp – 35bhp more than the Rt 12, and the car’s aerodynamics were tweaked to allow sustained speeds of up to 360km/h. Oh, and for those of you interested, the nomenclature stands for RUF turbo, 12th generation, Sport.
The tuning process starts with any model Porsche 911 (997), which is completely dismantled, upgraded and rebuild. The stock engine is twin-turbocharged to achieve performance figures up to 685hp at 7,000rpm and a maximum torque of 880Nm at 4,000rpm. The power increase comes from installing special pistons and ultra-light titanium connecting rods. They reduce the stroke from 102.7 to 102.0mm. The displacement rises to 3,746 cm³. The turbos are similar to the VTG system used in the 997 GT2, but modifications allow a higher pressure and 19 psi of boost.
The sprint numbers are easily as impressive as the experience driving the Rt 12 S. The car does zero to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and zero to 200km/h in just under ten seconds, 9.8 to be precise. The top speed is 360km/h, and only possible because the engineers at RUF changed the aerodynamic characteristics of the body work. A discreet carbon rear spoiler with tearing edge, air ducts which are integrated in the widened rear fenders and exterior mirrors from the RUF CTR 3 are part of this improved aero package.
The Rt 12 S is equipped with 19 inch forged lightweight wheels in the front and rear. The highest performance ceramic brake discs are used at each end. The carbon-ceramic brake discs have six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers. The suspension has been tuned using uprated bushes and a Bilstein suspension kit to cope with the new top speed. Optionally a height adjustable front axle is available which offers 50 millimeters hydraulically lift to increase chassis clearance for speed bumps and parking garages. This is operated by pushing a button.
On the inside, the cabin offers contoured bucket seats and a sports steering wheel with additional grip. Our test car had an interior combo with black leather and yellow stitching matching the exterior color trim. Most of the Porsche equipment was kept stock. RUF only changed the gear lever and added a white RUF logo to the rev counter dial plate. If requested, the specialists will be able to offer you applications in piano lacquer, aluminum or carbon fiber.
Customers have a choice between rear or four-wheel-drive as with all RUF 911-based cars. Our yellow test car started life as a 997 Turbo. The stock four-wheel drive system offered an ideal setup to transfer the improved performance to the road. The twin-turbocharged engine has a pronounced push in the back at around 4,000rpm, which feels like a rocket initiating its second stage. At this point the engine produces the highest available torque, which is accompanied by an increasing amount of horsepower up to 7,000rpm. From standstill you hardly dare to put your foot flat to the floor because you know that your brain will never be able to fully process the acceleration.
The handling of the car is solid no matter what roads lay ahead. The Rt 12 S begs for stretches of Autobahn, but feels equally at home on winding mountain roads. The amount of speed carried into a bend is insane, followed by an equally ridiculous exit speeds. We never reached the boundaries of the car’s capabilities, simply because the speed potential was too overwhelming for the short amount of time we were granted behind the wheel of the RUF 911. It would take a track and days of practice before we would even touch the edge.
After experiencing our first-ever RUF sports car, we can generally say that specialist Alois Ruf and his team are taking their commitment and words seriously. Each of their cars leave the workshop on a level which is way ahead of their initial characteristics. RUF sports cars are capable of achieving a lot more than many Porsche drivers have experienced in their life. Where most tuners just change a small series of technical parts, RUF creates a completely new sports car extending the boundaries of what is possible with a Porsche, but keeping the capabilities of using a RUF as a daily driver.
Even though this car is an absolute monster, the aesthetic modifications are nicely integrated and rather subtle. For those looking for more extreme styling, there are other options available. This Rt 12 S has its own dimension of driving excitement and offers both the high-end driving performance and the suitability for an everyday use. We now know what it means to drive one of RUF’s ultimate driving machines.