I first drove the Ruf CTR3 prototype in October 2008, and since then Ruf has sold more than 20 of these hand-built, mid-engined supercars. It's also continued to develop it for more power, better handling and ease of use.
From day one, the CTR3 had a six-speed sequential transmission commissioned from Hör Technologie. While it let you grab each of the six forward ratios via a race-style lever, you still needed the clutch pedal with each shift.
For the 2014 model year, prospective CTR3 owners now have the option of a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox instead, after requests for faster and smoother shifting from customers.
Another upgrade that came through the requests from keener drivers was an even more hardcore CTR3 Club Sport version, which made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year.
Both the vanilla CTR3 and hot chilli Club Sport benefit from a 10% bump in output to 777hp at 7100rpm and 723 lb-ft at 4000rpm. The PDK adds an extra $51000 on top of the $700,000 Ruf asks for the Club Sport with sequential 'box. And that's already $64000 more than the base CTR3!
It was a long, hard winter in Europe and even now, at the end of June, the weather was unstable when we visited Ruf Automobile in Pfaffenhausen, Gemany. Rain is the last thing you need with 777hp going through the rear wheels. Yet predictably, as I was all set to depart on my Club Sport test drive, a downfall kept us in the garage longer. Thankfully, the sun returned, and soon dried the tarmac.
Ruf cars are consistently usable on an every day basis. So while the low roof and Group C-style windows on the CTR3 mean poor visibility and require constant vigilance in traffic, the mighty engine was as docile as a pussycat.
Despite its humungous output, the twin-turbo flat-six rivals a standard Porsche Turbo for tractability. We drove through several villages at 30mph or less in third gear at around 1200rpm, and any request for acceleration was met with a willing response. And while some purists might prefer to row their own gears, there's no arguing with the seamless change of ratios the PDK delivers. However, the Ruf paddle shifters were surprisingly short and stiff, requiring more force than any production car.
However, shifts were lightning fast, and when braking into a bend, the combination of the Group C front windshield, hugely powerful brakes and the snappy PDK gearbox inspired Le Mans fantasies. That would be further enhanced on a racetrack, which is a big part of the CTR3 Club Sport's overall driving experience.
3.8L flat-six develops 777hp, 723 lb-ft
Ruf CTR3 now features Porsche's PDK transmission for faster, smoother shifting but paddles are short 'n stiff
Ruf CTR3 now features Porsche's PDK transmission for faster, smoother shifting but paddles
Group C-inspired bodywork reduces visibility but undoubtedly looks spectacular
Back in the early '90s, I drove several Porsche 962LM Group C cars in 650hp qualifying trim. At 1800 lb, they were significantly lighter than the 3131 lb CTR3 Club Sport. And yet the 2.6-litre race motor in the 962C is substantially outgunned in terms of torque by the 3.8-liter Ruf motor.
With modern aerodynamics, the Club Sport also slips through the air more easily than the 962C, reaching 236mph with the tallest final drive offered. That's a good deal faster than the factory Le Mans racer, which topped out at 217mph.
Out of the box, the Club Sport will blast to 62mph in 3.2sec, and double that in 9.2sec, while returning an average fuel consumption of 17mpg.
On track, the 962C would corner better than the CTR3 thanks to its suspension and ground effects. But road-legal 962 variants created by some aftermarket companies were raised to conform to the regulations and would probably be no better than the Ruf, with its state-of-the-art race-derived suspension that makes full use of the vastly superior modern rubber.
"The CTR3 Club Sport was born out of our usual policy of continuous development," explained Alois Ruf. "A few of our CTR3 customers asked for such a car, and it was a logical thing to do since the basic car had so much race-derived technology in it."
"We've slowly ramped up engine output since we launched the car in 2008," he continued. "We started with 700hp at 7000rpm and 656 lb-ft at 4000rpm, with the extra output making a discernable difference to the acceleration. There's no additional lag when you go into the throttle, but the power delivery is now more aggressive, particularly for the last 2000rpm."
"We started the PDK project in October 2012 and finished it in June," Alois recalled. "I'm not going to say it was a piece of cake, but the biggest challenge as usual was the electronics, so we ended up with a new ECU."
"In terms of hardware, because the engine and gearbox are the other way around than in the 911, we had to make new transmission casing and mounts," Alois explained.
Both the PDK trans and the sequential gearbox weigh around 240 lb, so there's no change to the balance of the car.
"The visual changes to the Club Sport are the new front section with a splitter, more pronounced flares that add 15mm each side, plus the larger, fixed carbon-fiber rear wing."
The track is wider thanks to different wheel offsets, while the wheel and tire sizes are unchanged at 19x8.5" and 20x12.5", with 265/30 and 345/30 Michelin tires, respectively.
The spring and damper rates had been increased, and I noticed a firmer ride but it's fully adjustable, so you have the option of making it suppler for the street.
On fast country roads around Ruf's HQ, the Club Sport felt resolutely clamped down at speed, while the perfectly weighted power steering made you feel at one with the car very quickly.
Long, open curves with good visibility enabled you to explore the performance of the car within reason. Its stability gave you great confidence in fast sweepers, where you could feel the new splitter and rear wing pressing the CTR3 into the tarmac.
The CTR3 Club Sport is a testament to Ruf's ability to design and build a car that mixes the best Porsche components with the company's own parts, thereby producing a unique vehicle that offers the performance enthusiast yet another option for track days or sheer fun on the open road.
2014 Ruf CTR3 Club Sport
Engine 3.8-liter flat-six biturbo
Drivetrain modified Porsche PDK dual-clutch seven-speed transmission, RWD with LSD
Brakes Ruf/Brembo six-piston calipers and 380mm ceramic rotors f&r
Suspension Double wishbones all round, coilovers f, horizontally opposed coilovers r, adjustable anti-roll bars
Wheels & Tires 19x8.5" f, 20x12.5" r forged Ruf wheels, 265/30 ZR19 f, 345/30 ZR20 r Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires
Exterior steel passenger cell and front crash structure, carbon fiber body, aluminum doors, fixed rear wing, extended front splitter
Interior Ruf/Recaro seats, integrated rollcage