Porsche 911 R proves why BMW should stop caring about lap times

BMW M4, News | April 24th, 2017 by 26
2018 BMW M4 CS 29 750x500

It’s not secret that performance cars are becoming more and more digital, losing the pure, fundamental elements of driving that we all love. While faster …

It’s not secret that performance cars are becoming more and more digital, losing the pure, fundamental elements of driving that we all love. While faster and more technically impressive than ever, performance cars just aren’t the engaging and exciting cars that they used to be. Performance cars of the past used to send chills down your spine, now they just boggle the mind with stat sheets and performance numbers that are hard to believe. Despite the impressive speed, enthusiasts are begging for the return of old-school sports cars that provide emotional thrills more than technical prowess.

One such company that delivered on that request is Porsche. The new, but immediately sold out, Porsche 911 R is a car the emphasizes interaction, experience and emotion over pure performance numbers. It’s essentially a 911 GT3 RS, as it has the same engine and suspension, but without the crazy body work, aerodynamics, stripped-out interior and, of course, dual-clutch gearbox. So, instead of crazy aero, the 911 R is sleek and pretty. Instead of a stripped out cabin, it gets sumptuous partial leather seats with brown cloth. And instead of the rapid-fire dual-clutch, it gets a slower six-speed manual. The result is possibly the most enjoyable modern performance car experience on the road. BMW should take notice.

Porsche 911 R4 750x422

BMW’s most extreme car is the M4 GTS. It is completely setup to crush race tracks, with carbon fiber aerodynamics, water-injections, stripped out interior and a dual-clutch transmission. While it’s extremely impressive on a track, it lacks a bit of purity, it lacks the sort of experience that enthusiasts want. BMW needs to look to the Porsche 911 R and make something out of the M4 that looks purely at the art of driving.

Admittedly, the Bavarians are off to a decent start. The upcoming BMW M4 CS looks to reverse some of the ridiculousness of the M4 GTS. Sure, the M4 GTS can lap the Nurburgring faster but that means nothing in the real world. The M4 CS seems to be the more enjoyable car to drive everyday, as it packs some of the M4 GTS’ weight savings with the M4 Competition Package’s new suspension and steering but with power that sits in between the two. So it’s on the right path but BMW needs to go further.

2018 BMW M4 CS 18 750x500

Ditch the M4 CS’ dual-clutch gearbox and put in a manual. The M4 CS will be limited as it is, so it’s not as if BMW needs to worry about sales figures. Three pedals would go a long way to making it something that enthusiasts would drool over and get this reputation of forgetting enthusiasts behind BMW. Also, take some of the mush out of the steering, BMW, please. People from BMW M have claimed that they absolutely can deliver the same sort of steering that we love and remember but the mainstream buyers don’t want it, they want something more isolated. We get that and agree that that’s the direction BMW should take on the normal M cars. However, on limited-edition enthusiast-oriented models? Put your money where your mouth is, BMW, because you keep saying you can do what we want but we haven’t seen it yet. We can only believe you for so long.

I’m actually not sure why BMW won’t do such a thing. It could be done and the Bavarians could charge almost whatever they want for it and it would sell. Look at the 911 R, it sold for basically $200,000 and it was sold out in minutes. Look to Porsche, BMW, and give us the pure, engaging performance car we’ve been asking for. Forget lap times, they don’t matter. Forget the Nurburgring, we’re not all Sabine Schmitz. Give us something that makes are hearts sing, not our stopwatches.

26 responses to “Porsche 911 R proves why BMW should stop caring about lap times”

  1. LucyPup says:

    You know what is really funny? The 911R will sell for a much higher price , speedster-like, years from now!

    • Michael says:

      As I understand it, they are already selling for as much as double their original m.s.r.p..

      • Shawn Sepehry says:

        And that’s why I don’t buy that this is a purists car meant to send chills down your spine. The sheer rarity of the car means that it’s mostly going to get passed around by collectors using it as an investment fund.

        I’m sure there are the crazy owners who intend to track the car heavily but a Porsche that sells at such a premium doesn’t do much to quell the purists needs either.

        • guest says:

          Won’t an actual purist be in a Miata?

          • Shawn Sepehry says:

            Exactly.

            The problem is that some, not all so-called ‘purists’ will complain about not having a manual option but are really armchair critics and when the time comes to purchase, they won’t opt for the manual.

            That’s why BMW and others are not catering to the vocal community, rather the purchasing community.

          • guest says:

            They’ve been trying to get rid of manuals for a while, if the market supported them (rather than just outraged typists), they’d keep ’em. Maybe they can put manuals into the Individual program. The whole debate is laughable, Porsche wanted to kill the 911 with the 928, so after 50 years, due to the market, the gold standard is an outmoded layout abandoned by all others that without electronic nannies would spin out like an empty pick-up. Or into a ditch like an original 911 driven by Steve McQueen. Meanwhile, people hate on the i8 because it’s 21st century (at a tenth of the price of a Porsche, Ferrari or McLaren hybrid).

  2. Kaisuke971 says:

    Kinda ironic when the GT2RS is testing at the Nürburgring right now to take the record back

  3. Giom says:

    Being a niche specialist, wouldn’t a limited run of manual, back to driving basics, sports car be the holy grail for BMW? It’s almost a no brainer. If you’d ask them why not, they’ll say – we don’t believe there is a market for such a car. At which point you’d remind them of what ‘niche’ means.

    • I completely agree. Maybe upcoming M2 CS is that car?

      • bmw driver says:

        No, it isn’t, the M2 CS is going further away from being an excellent road car, which is what the M2 is. Also it loses one of the best parts of the M2 experience (that gorgeous, lovely sounding engine) and replaces it with the mediocre at best S55. I would say that is the antithesis of a car being focused on driver enjoyment. After 6 months of ownership, I am tragically obsessed with my M2 in a way no other car has made me feel. It’s a car that must be driven to be understood, a car where there is a definite dialog between driver and machine, and best of all, it’s available for everyone to buy! Over here, you can buy a stripped out, basic, manual only M2, for less than the spec I bought. If you want an old school driving experience today, BMW already sell that car. Why wait for them to ruin it and charge you 50% more for the privilege?

        • guest says:

          People need to ignore the M2 to complain about the brand losing its way. As if they could sell 2 million manual M2’s annually…

        • Airkrd says:

          Totally agree. In 2009 I sold my 2002 Acura RSX-type S for an 2009 Infiniti G37S 6MT. Although the Infiniti was a superior car to the RSX, the RSX was just special. There was something it had that the larger, more powerful and frankly faster car was missing.

          I took delivery of my M2 this february and much like my RSX-type S, it’s a special car. I’m glad I was patient because I almost bought an M4 because I couldn’t find a dealer who would sell me an M2 for MSRP. The M4 , and likely the M2CS will be as well, is a technically superior car but, I wouldn’t trade my M2 for one.

  4. Xiaofeng says:

    I voted with my checkbook. Test drove both the DCT and the 6MT when I got my M3, and even though the DCT was faster and felt more urgent, the 6MT was simply more fun. And with the recent interviews with the VP of Marketing at M in Australia, this may be one of the last 6MT M cars made.

    • Terry Young says:

      Manuals are great – just dont whine when a DSG golf dusts you

      • Xiaofeng says:

        Haha! Let’s just say this isn’t exactly my first rodeo with a manual. If a Golf dusts me, that’s either one hell of a car, or one hell of a driver, either which I would be quite impressed with and would love to see. :)

  5. Black335GT says:

    Not everybody thinks a manual is fun. I see it as more work. My last manual car was a Mustang, 20 years ago. I don’t miss it in the least. In fact, you couldn’t pay me to buy a manual car, let alone get me to pay to have the “privilege” of buying one.

    It’s 2017. Time goes on. What’s next, you whiners gonna complain about the death of drum brakes, manual windows, engine cranks and carburetors? I’m sure you all miss the tactile feel of manually winding your windows, and cranking the motors by hand. Of course you won’t. Why not? Because those items are antiquated and obsolete. Just like the item you’re whining about not being available for much longer.

    • Shawn Sepehry says:

      Some already romanticize the idea of manual windows, radio deletes, moonroof deletes etc. Only Porsche and BMW can convince you to buy a stripped out yet more expensive car.

      I completely agree that you shouldn’t bemoan the loss of a specific technology. Those things are meant to serve a purpose which in this case happens to be going fast. When the 6 speed manual was the height of technology, it was the best method. Now that an 8AT can shift better, have better fuel economy and have smaller, lighter packaging, why would you be against that?

      Dogma or nostalgia shouldn’t be deciding factors. Only how it feels.

    • guest says:

      I’m going to buy a manual Spark in tribute to LJK Setright’s theory that it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. The 0-60 resembles a 2002’s, the windows crank, I will truly be living in the past (and passed). With airbags.

  6. bmw driver says:

    The problem with the M4 isn’t the choice of gearbox. I’d say that the M2 is a far better argument for not caring about laptimes and focusing on the actual driving experience, and unlike these stupid artificially limited models, you can actually buy one and enjoy it without being a 1%er.

  7. David Lightfoot says:

    I’ve got a 2017 M2 with DTC. After 40 years of manuals, and my daily driver is still a manual, I’m really happy with the DTC transmission. I just think a modern car is better without a stick. I’ll be going to the track for the first time in about three weeks, so we’ll see how I like the car there.

    The other thing I’ve found interesting is my experience compared to all the raves about the M2. This car is far from perfect! I’ve had trouble getting a comfortable seating position. The electronics are inferior to any smart phone. Why do they even build navigation systems into cars? Like all M Cars, the gas tank is way too small. I’ve heard this can be an issue with the fuel pickup while at the track; we’ll see.

    The M2 is a great value and I’m generally happy. I think the power will be great at the track but the real party-trick I’m looking forward to is that differential.

  8. Dailybimmer says:

    Give us 0-100 Kmh in 2.8 sec goddamn.

  9. Airkrd says:

    I think the M2 shows that there’s still someone at M who realizes it’s about fun and not lap times. Sure, the M2 could have had all the same M features as the M4 but I think that misses the point. The M2 is a riot to drive, yes it isn’t the fastest M car but it doesn’t need to be.

    I took delivery of my M2 two months ago and I couldn’t have asked for more. Initially, I was considering trading up for the M2CS once my dealer starts taking orders; however, I feel that it’s moving away from what the M2 was designed to be, a fun, engaging driver’s car that is a blast to row through the gears and chuck around corners. I’m sure the M2CS will put down amazing lap times but…I have to be honest with myself, I’m never taking my M to the track so what’s the point?

  10. Terry Young says:

    The M4 GTS crushing racetracks – Wallets yes, racetracks no

  11. Crux says:

    Forget 911 R…

    @BMW feast your eyes on brand new 911 GT3 MANUAL. Stop messing aboot about making everything ZF & ridding ///M’s of a proper gearbox.

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