As the Ruf RT12 S emits the ticking, hissing, mechanical bag-of-rattlesnakes sound of a cooling turbo, Estonia Ruf asks us what we think of the new flagship. I take a minute to answer, too busy trying not to stroke the wing in an overly intimate fashion and lick the window.
This is, quite simply, as good a car as you will get. It looks like a Porsche 911, it even feels like a Porsche. It's just a hell of a lot faster. That is the genius of Alois Ruf, and the line that has become a near cliché for a reason. Tuners generally play with the axis of comfort and performance, sacrificing one for the other. But the RT12 S and almost every Ruf that precedes it is every bit as refined as Zuffenhausen's best. And it's on another planet when it comes to pure speed.
That's because Ruf is no tuner, not in the traditional sense. He is keen to distance himself from the crowd and has the full manufacturer papers to prove his case, as well as a factory that is fully equipped to manufacturer levels, a name that makes Porsche fanatics quiver at its very mention, and a car that starts as a bare shell.
The engine spent a year in development and our guide for the day pulls out his mobile to show a photo of a customer's odometer with 200,000 kilometers on the clock. This longevity is the kind of thing that excites Ruf, just as much as the epic 224-mph top-end speed. I like the speed thing more, but then I'm childish.
As we leave the factory and head for the legendary sweeping backroads of Stetten I'm itching to open up the throttle and feel the full force of the 685-hp, 3.8-liter biturbo growling like a caged tiger. But first we must get there, which provides the chance to feel that legendary refinement and the dual nature of this twin-turbo powerplant.
This engine is technically the 3.8-liter from Porsche, but all Ruf uses is the basic block and the finished product bears closer resemblance to the 3.6-liter RTurbo powerplant. The two share the cast alloy intake manifold and large throttle bodies. It also comes with gas-flowed cylinder heads, titanium conn-rods and 102mm Mahle pistons, and purpose-built inlet and exhaust camshafts.
All that work is topped off by modified KKK R24 turbochargers with their own intercoolers that run a relatively low boost of just 1.2 bar, a 0.1 increase over the RT12. That boasted up to 650 hp, but Ruf spent too much time and money developing that engine to start throwing last minute spanners in the works. So the internals are left alone for the S version and the extra power comes from a free flowing exhaust kit and a mild ECU tweak over the previous model. It's a world away from the Carrera S model, and yet it feels just as friendly.
It comes with a full 4000 rpm of docility, the low-range practicality that ensures you could use this car each and every day thanks to a long throttle travel, smooth power delivery and relaxed driving feel. There is no rifle-bolt short shifter, no race-bred clutch. Ruf's twelfth turbocharged model, hence the RT12 moniker, is a real car rather than a track-biased show pony. It just happens to be scary, insane, window-licking, face-melting fast when it gets beyond 4000 rpm and the peak 650 lb-ft of torque crashes into the rear.
When I finally get the space to unleash the dogs of war they go tearing after the horizon like it's bleeding steak. Officially, 62 mph falls in 3.4 seconds and 125 mph in 9.8 seconds, but I'd bet it's faster than that, and outside of the Enzo and Zonda sector it's as quick as it gets. Light the touchpaper and the S just burns down the road with the characteristic flat six roar cranked up to 17.
There's just a moment as the rear Continental VMAX rubber loses grip and shuffles drive to the front as I finally slam too much power through the grippy rear. Then there's a fraction of a moment of tension underneath the close-fitting racing seat as the car takes up the slack. Then it fires down the road with neck snapping pace, and total composure. I don't know how the two diametrically opposed qualities combine. They just do.