Calling Alois Ruf a tuner amongst those in the know is tantamount to insulting the faith. The man is widely held as a deity after 25 years of creating such legends as Yellowbird, the original Porsche CTR that starred in the firm's now legendary video, Fazination. That film was passed among car fanatics like a crumpled porn magazine in the playground and that, along with his inclusion in the Gran Turismo video games, helped cement his legend.
Until now all his headline creations have been so closely based on the 911 that only the cognoscenti could tell them apart. He had to move to the next level, and greeting us at the sprawling factory was his own supercar--the Ruf CTR 3.
The bright sunny day helped its cause, but that exterior finish is a wonder to behold, and it isn't the cheap plastic wrap that most tuners have turned to. Instead it's a painstaking paint process involving layer upon layer and costs several hundred euros per liter. So if you see this car don't get too close--your insurance company might hate you.
It's hard to avoid being blown away by the overall shape of a car that looks like the very best modern day homage to the classic Porsche GT1 (with a hint of 550 Le Mans racer). The obvious comparison with Porsche's own Carrera GT is like placing a Gordon Ramsey steak filet next to a McDonald's patty. Ruf has blown away Stuttgart's crown jewel on the pure-theater stakes with just a fraction of the budget. Maybe from the rear three-quarter view it has the slightest hint of blown up Cayman, but that would be a harsh judgement.
Dissect the shape, though, and the silhouette of a Porsche 911 GT3's front end, albeit dressed with Ruf's own expensive carbon-fiber spoiler, becomes apparent, making this one of the most expensive cut-and-shut jobs on the market. That's because using the front structure of Porsche's own flagship neatly sidesteps crash-testing requirements. From the doors back it's a whole new car, with a tubular steel chassis combined with carbon-kevlar to provide the most rigid mid-engine chassis Ruf could muster.
That swooping back end, meanwhile, adorned with vents galore, affords zero visibility. But then again there's a reverse camera, and with a 700-hp mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged engine you shouldn't really need a rear view--just the monumental rear wing and carefully honed aero package to suck the CTR 3 to the deck at speeds up to 234 mph.
Hook up the launch perfectly, get those 20-inch rear Michelin Pilot Sports to bite into the tarmac, and the CTR 3 will hammer through 100 km/h in 3.2 seconds. Then it's just a case of pulling back on the sequential lever, linked to a specifically developed gearbox, with serious force to get the next cog while mashing the throttle to the carpet to bend time and space. It all feels a little too easy, fast but easy, until the tachometer needle heads through an invisible 4000-rpm watershed, the turbos kick into life, and all manner of hell breaks loose.
Every time the addictive mechanized sneeze of the wastegates greets the next wave of power, the next unadulterated surge from 656 lb-ft of pure thrust fires the car at the horizon. The whooshing noise of forced induction, with those turbos hitting an indecent 17.4 psi, backs up the growling roar of the 3.8-liter engine and it feels even faster than the numbers dictate. That's almost Veyron-fast, but then it comes with rear-wheel drive and an overall weight of 3,086 pounds--thanks largely to the carbon--makes it feel so much more agile, so much more involving.
Throw the car into bends and it simply powers through the touch of understeer dialed in to the horizontal dampers to protect the customers from their own inevitable moments of stupidity. This is a near perfectly balanced car for the road, even though they swear it's unbelievable on the track. It's easy to buy that.