The pair of air-to-air intercoolers that sit within the rear quarters have 20 percent more cooling capacity than the factory 997 Turbo equivalents. Ruf has found that having the air intakes on top of the uniquely shaped rear wheel arches works better than on its flanks like the factory Turbo, as the low pressure in this area sucks ram air in more effectively. All-wheel drive is the best way to effectively deploy this level of power, although the RT12R is available with rear drive, four-wheel-drive is the norm. Curb weight is 3,296 pounds in AWD form, 120 pounds less with rear drive only.
On startup, it takes only one blip of the throttle to know that this engine is connected to a single-mass flywheel. The revs rise and fall quickly, and the engine feels really responsive despite the fact that turbocharged motors always give the impression that you’re pushing a column of air around.
The slight gear chatter when the clutch is disengaged is another clue, but the drivetrain is so well balanced that this is minimal and certainly not an issue for a hard-core enthusiast. The heavy-duty clutch makes your left foot work at slow speeds even if it is never an issue on the fly.
The superior traction of AWD off the line is telling. The RT12R takes just 3.4 seconds to reach 62 mph from rest. Its top speed of 225 mph makes it the fastest Ruf car to date.
The biturbo flat six is perfectly tractable and well behaved around town. It will not complain even if you drive around in Third gear at 1200 rpm. So long as you then accelerate away gently on part throttle, it will pick up smoothly and start to flex its muscles once you have passed 2000 rpm.
On the open road, the other face of this potent monster motor shows itself. In Third gear, it starts with a firm push in the chest at 2500 rpm, and serious thrust showing itself 1000 rpm later. By the time you pass 4000 you’re really flying, with a rush of pure speed that is as intoxicating as the accompanying Le Mans Group C Porsche sports prototype soundtrack.
I slowed down enough to try the same thing in Second, and was rewarded with a display of truly bombastic in-gear acceleration that had the back squatting down, and the four-wheel-drive system singing for its supper. The 730 horses certainly felt like they were all present and accounted for.
The corollary of big power and torque is ease of driving, and you don’t have to use the revs, certainly not 7000 rpm, to get around quickly on normal roads. The tractability of this engine means that most traffic can be dispatched with a whiff of throttle in Third or Fourth gear on a country road, so if you plan your overtakes properly, stress levels on both car and driver will be low.
The stiff body shell allows relatively soft suspension settings to be used to the benefit of ride comfort on the road. The coilover suspension uses Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers made to Ruf’s specifications. The relatively soft setup ensures a good secondary ride that nicely rounds off bumps at town speeds. At high speeds, the chassis assumes rock-solid control over the proceedings, and the combination of ace suspension control and all-wheel-drive allows you to confidently deploy the engine’s massive output in safety.
All is not rosy, however, and my test-drive threw up a question of subjective feel turning into bends in the middle ground between a canter and seriously fast driving. In this middle ground, I detected a hesitation in the rear axle on turn-in, when the back end seemed to be in limbo for a second. It was as if the rear suspension bushings were out to lunch for a moment before the application of power compressed them and everything returned to normal. Since Ruf uses solid bushings on this track-oriented car, it might be a geometry issue.
That said, once on throttle in the corner, everything was fine again, and it was business as usual for the RT12R’s awesome mechanical grip and fine handling.