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Thursday, October 23, 2008

RUF CTR3= Fantasy Brought to Life

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2008 Ruf CTR3
2008 Ruf CTR3

Slideshow: 2008 Ruf CTR3 >>

Nürburg, Germany — We all know what Batman drives by night when he rockets around Gotham City saving people from villains such as the Joker and the Riddler. But by day, when he's back being Bruce Wayne the millionaire, what's his ride? Is he chauffeured around? Or is he a car enthusiast who climbs aboard a superhero-worthy sports car just for fun?

Sure, Bruce Wayne could probably afford the usual exotics like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, or even an Aston Martin like the one driven by a certain spy. But Bruce deserves to drive something more exclusive: the new Ruf CTR3.

Alois Ruf, a well-known small sports-car maker who made his name pumping Porsche 911s up to even higher performance levels, has entered the big leagues with his own car, the CTR3. Introduced last summer in Bahrain ("Pumped-Up Porsches," R&T, July 2007), the Ruf supercar is finally ready and we are fortunate enough to drive the first production version in the world.

The CTR3 is without doubt the perfect garage-mate to all the Batmobiles. And unlike the Batmobiles that exist only in the fantasy world, the CTR3 is real. In profile, the CTR3 looks like a squashed 911 with all four corners pushed out as far as possible. The front and rear fenders bulge out to hold in the massive front 19-in. and rear 20-in. Michelin Pilot Sport tires. Ruf says the CTR3 styling was inspired by the 1953 Porsche 550 Le Mans Coupe driven by Paul Frère and Richard von Frankenberg. With the central air scoop on the roof, the CTR3 is also reminiscent of the Porsche 911 GT1 from the late 1990s. Overall, the Ruf is wider, taller and not as long as the Carrera GT.

The front's overall styling is similar to a 911's, with its exposed headlights flanking the sloping hoodline capped by a couple of blacked-out air vents. The bumper with the built-in foglamps and indicator lights, plus the low and wide air scoops, are Ruf originals, and match well with the large and bold air vents at the rear. From the back, the low-slung tail and the wing coupled to the paired slits on the roof speak loudly of the car's intense power and mystique.

Even though the CTR3 does not come equipped with a jet engine and afterburners, its 3.7-liter twin-turbo flat-6 comes pretty close. The engine delivers 700 bhp (DIN) at 7000 rpm and provides 657 lb.-ft. of thrust at 4000 rpm — enough to catapult the sub-3100-lb. mostly carbon-fiber-bodied machine up to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 3.2 seconds (according to Ruf). With a transverse 6-speed sequential racing gearbox, the CTR3 can reach a top speed of 233 mph. If there is any concern that this Ruf is simply a heavily modified version of the Porsche 911, Boxster or Cayman, raise the rear deck and you'll be treated to a beautifully — and uniquely — designed, race-inspired, tube-frame chassis complete with multilink suspension and horizontal coil-over shocks co-developed with Multimatic of Canada.

Climb aboard the CTR3 and cinch yourself tightly into the supportive carbon-fiber/leather-trimmed racing seat. Twist the ignition key and the Ruf comes to life without much drama. The sequential shifter takes a little bit of time to get used to, especially since its straight-cut racing gears rattle when you're in neutral. Pull back to shift into 1st. And you'd better be forceful with it or the gearbox will howl back for lack of engagement. Clutch out as you feed in the gas. The startup is quite dramatic as the tires dig into the asphalt and you feel the acceleration come on strongly. Just when you think you are going at a pretty good clip, the engine revs hit 4000 rpm where the twin turbos become significant. The turbos blow at a gale-force 17.4 psi to further catapult you forward. It's warp speed ahead!

On any straight road without traffic, the CTR3's acceleration rate is mind-boggling. With the corner ahead fast approaching, the Batmobile's grappling hook seems like a good idea. Fortunately, standing on the brakes lets the 6-piston calipers clamp down on 15.0-in. ceramic composite discs at each wheel. The car scrubs off speed immediately, aided by ABS and traction control. The CTR3 turns in quickly and sharply toward the apex with minimal fuss, thanks to its nicely weighted steering and taut front MacPherson and rear multilink suspension. Built into the chassis tuning is slight understeer, good for road use. But it is apparent that at the track and fully unleashed, the CTR3 can be easily balanced with steering and throttle inputs. Off the corner, the CTR3 picks up speed quickly as you ease in the throttle. Too heavy on the gas and the rear wiggles just a touch to remind you of the 700 bhp on tap. The Ruf likes and needs to be run at speed. That's when you'll appreciate the power and the engine at full song with its aggressive growl.

Around town at low speeds, heavier-than-usual upshifting effort on the sequential gearbox becomes more noticeable. Surprisingly, there is enough compliance in the suspension's damping so that you don't feel like you're getting beat up every time you crest a bump on the road. Inside the CTR3, sitting low and tucked toward the center makes you feel like you're part of the car. The vision forward and to the sides is excellent. However, don't look for anything through the back because you can't see a thing. A backup camera helps. Parking in tight quarters is a challenge, but what the heck, have Alfred do it.

Priced at the present currency exchange rate of around $613,000, the Ruf CTR3 is definitely a supercar for the select few. Its exotic looks and awesome performance easily qualify it to live in both the fantasy world of Gotham and in real life in the hands of any performance-crazed car enthusiast. Alois Ruf has proven he can take on the big manufacturers and construct a supercar that is just as good, if not even better and more exclusive.

2008 Ruf CTR3 Specifications

Price 420,000 Euros (est $613,000)
Curb weight est 3085 lb
Wheelbase 103.3 in.
Track, f/r 59.3 in./62.4 in.
Length 175.0 in.
Width 76.5 in.
Height 47.2 in.
Fuel capacity 23.5 gal.
Engine twin-turbo dohc 24V flat-6
Bore x stroke 102.0 mm x 76.4 mm
Displacement 3746 cc
Compression ratio 9.4:1
Horsepower (DIN) 700 bhp @ 7000 rpm
Torque 657 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Fuel delivery elect. sequential port
Transmission 6-speed sequential manual
Layout mid-engine/rear drive
Brakes, f/r 15.0-in. drilled & vented discs, ABS
Wheels 19 x 8½ f, 20 x 12½ r
Tires Michelin Pilot Sport;
265/35ZR-19 f, 335/30ZR-20 r
Steering type rack & pinion
Suspension, f/r MacPherson struts, tube shocks & coil springs, anti-roll bar/multilink, tube shocks & coil springs, anti-roll bar