The Porsche 911 has long had a reputation of being [in a German accent],”The world’s most favorite sports car.” Over time, that reputation has not changed one bit but the 911 itself has. With each generation, the 911 has gotten heavier, wider, more comfortable, etc. Take the 991 for example. The 991 911 was better in every measurable way than its predecessor, the 997. It was faster, sharper, wider, lower, and got better gas mileage. But although it was a better car, was it a better sports car?
To begin, we have to define what a sports car is. By definition, a sports car is “a low built car designed for performance at high speeds.” As car enthusiasts, we can all agree that there’s more to this. In my opinion, a sports car is a car built with the driving experience as the only priority; everything else is an afterthought. A perfect example of this would be the 986 Boxster. The first gen Boxster was impractical, got terrible gas mileage, the engine frequently blew up, the interior smelled funny, it was a terrible car to drive daily. Despite all these drawbacks, it still remains one of the most fun and enjoyable cars to drive on a canyon road. The reason for this was simple, its only purpose was to be driven hard on a canyon road. It just wasn’t built for sitting in traffic and taking the kids to school every day. The 986 Boxster was a true sports car.
The 911 is in essence the same. It started off as a true, no compromise sports car, but at the years went on, it became more and more comfortable, wider, longer, and more practical. Up until the 997 generation, this really wasn’t a problem. I mean, the 997.2 was just as fun to drive as any other 911, but it was also a really nice car. After that though, things changed. I keep using the 991 as an example since it was really the first time a 911 could be a legitimate daily driver. All you had to do was put the PDK transmission in automatic mode, turn on the AC, and cruise. Every 911 after the 991 followed this pattern, they became less 986 Boxster and more BMW M6. This was great for the Beverly Hills housewife who wanted to show off her new Porsche convertible, but it took away the raw, uncompromised nature Porsche purists had fallen in love with.
So here’s where the answer to our initial question comes. Is the Porsche 911 still a true sports car? Kind of. I say this because compared to the 911s of old, the 992 is not a sports car. It’s 8 speed PDK, comfy ride, and touch screens simply cannot match the raw, uncompromised, mechanical driving dynamic of older 911 models. But, and there’s a BIG but, compared to the “sports cars” of today, the new 911 is the most engaging, raw, and driver focused sports car you can buy. Despite all the changes and revisions over the years, the 911 hasn’t lost its true roots; at least not as much as its competitors. The BMW M3 for example, is a completely different car now than it was 15 years ago. 15 years ago we had the legendary E46 M3. A car with no compromises, a legendary engine, and one of the best driving dynamics ever implemented into a road car. Modern M4s simply can’t compete in terms of driving experience, the only thing the cars have in common is their lineage; otherwise, they’re as different as Ferrari and Fiat. Compare this to a 996 911 and a 992. Sure the 996 might feel better and more engaging to drive, but you can tell that the 992 is still a 911.
Porsche’s aim with the 911 has always been evolution instead of revolution and I think that’s saved them in the long run because in all honestly, a no compromise sports car simply would not sell as well as a more luxurious counterpart. What Porsche has done with the 992 is that they’ve built a sports car for 2019, not 1999.
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