Clarksonian excess is positively joyous on paper, and the items that grab review headlines trend towards both the extreme and the concrete. Everyone with a bit of petrol in their veins knows that 700 horsepower is a lot, and 200 is simply not very many. At the same time, not everyone agrees on what makes a car fun. What works in a headline to bring people in, and what constitutes thoughtful criticism that keeps people reading are not necessarily the same. For that reason the subject of excess in modern Porsches requires further examination. While the sales figures indicate that Porsche has their customer base pretty well nailed, does it necessarily follow that the brand has stayed reasonable and accessible?
Mr. JWW contends that maybe, for road drivers, Porsche has gone too far. The GT2 RS is designed to work on track, that is part of its very nature. At the same time, the compromises required to make it the fastest production car around the ‘Ring make it almost entirely inaccessible on the street. At its intended purpose the GT2 RS is virtually unrivaled, but on road the edges of the car’s performance envelope become infuriatingly distant.
This isn’t a problem that is unique to the GT2 RS, the GT2 RS is simply emblematic of it. In terms of straight-line speed any 911 will get deep in to triple digits before it feels like it is breathing hard. Despite being significantly more road and comfort oriented than the GT2, both the Turbo and Turbo S still offer more performance in every metric than can be routinely enjoyed out in the world of traffic and rogue deer.
The merits of “slow car fast” are often parroted, but if the majority of your enjoyment comes off-track that does hold a fair amount of water. At road speeds is a GT2 RS more enjoyable than a Carrera Club Sport or a 993 Carrera RS despite how much more performance it offers? Does this prodigious performance mean modern Porsches offer “too much” performance, or is it indicative of users simply refocusing what sort of enjoyment they seek from their cars?
Too Much Tech?
While I am certain that the paragraphs above are going to be somewhat contentious, I don’t think this will: New cars have a lot of tech in them. New Porsches have an extraordinary, and occasionally overwhelming, amount of tech in them. While Porsche clung to their analog roots for an extremely long time, hop in a 996 Carrera and compare the number of toys on offer to a current car, the 992 is a technological marvel of adaptive suspension, rear wheel steering, and programmable drive modes.
While all of these ingredients make the car faster, do they make for a better sports car? Had Porsche not stayed current the brand’s popular sports cars could have become niche curiosities like the eternally-lovable range of Morgans. While many enthusiasts claim to prefer simplicity, the broader market does not follow. The current 911 tries to be all things to all people, and the host contends that in comfort mode the car is decidedly more GT car than outright sports car.
The interior is more complex as well, with an analog rev counter flanked by configurable digital displays at both sides, and a dash-mounted infotainment display of a size that would make an iPad blush. Perhaps all this makes the new 911 more versatile, but does it make for a better sports car? Is it a step too far?