So there’s a brand new Porsche 911 on the market. A true sports car icon since its introduction 45 years ago, the new car (code named 991) continues to set the benchmark by which other drivers cars are measured. As a new Porsche it is of course faster, more capable and more refined than the last one. But I’m not alone in thinking that a little bit of the 911’s soul is being lost in each new generation.
If you read all the reviews, the new 991 is seriously good to drive. So my only real issue with the car is a philosophical one. The latest generation Porsches, like BMWs and so many other cars these days, have become several orders of magnitude more complex than the cars I learned to drive and wrench on. At some point it has got to become too much.
Fifteen years ago, the interior of the Porsche 993 had a total of maybe 8 switches. Luxury accessories were limited to power seats and electric windows. The throttle was connected to the engine with a steel cable, and traction control was up to the driver.
Today’s 991 represents the bleeding edge of automotive technology. Bi-Xenon and LED lighting. CFD modeled aerodynamic elements, located even on the suspension. Super fast automated double clutch gearbox. Driver adjustable suspension settings, engine mapping, even exhaust sounds. Active stability management. Dynamic chassis control. Direct fuel injection engine with fully variable valve timing and advanced emissions controls. Eelectromechanical power steering and electric parking brake with hill-hold. Carbon ceramic brakes. Adustable spoiler. Two-zone automatic air conditioning. Large LCD interface for GPS and communications systems with ParkAssist sensing. A center console covered in buttons for interior comfort, sound and phone controls. And of course, all the computer systems to govern it all.
By all accounts, the 991 sounds like a stellar automobile. But it is stupefyingly complicated and expensive to develop, build and maintain. A few years from now, when I’m in the market for a used one, I’m not sure how will that shape my purchasing decision.June 14, 2012, 11:36am Permalink