Porsche is a car company that has been a favorite amongst automotive purists. People who love driving that’s stripped down to the absolute basics. If you absolutely love to drive, regardless of your preferred brand, you most likely like Porsche. However, the fans of the famous Stuttgart brand are growing more upset with each and every year as Porsche decides to give its “pure” cars dual-clutch transmissions and all-wheel drive, like the 911 GT3 and Turbo models. So, according to Autocar, to make these upset enthusiasts happy, Porsche has decided to make a new line of GT 911s which will be focused more on driving pleasure than lap times and have a manual gearbox only.
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This is a good move by Porsche. A low-volume purists Porsche will get some of its fanbase back without hurting the bank too much. Plus, all the parts and tooling already exist, so it won’t be a massive undertaking to make such a car. By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m blabbing about Porsche. Well, the idea to make a “purist’s” model got me thinking, should BMW do the same?
BMW is also having a bit of an enthusiast crisis at the moment. Both companies are being ridiculed for their choices to switch to electric power steering, turbocharging and automatics. It doesn’t matter how good a new BMW is, someone with a keyboard with Caps Lock on will yell about how the steering isn’t dripping with the same communication that once inhabited the helm of an E30 M3, or why it has a DCT instead of a manual. So would it be a good idea for BMW to make a purist’s car variant, like Porsche is doing?
I actually don’t think so. See, Porsche is a company known for its heritage and specific way of doing things. It’s why, despite physics’ claims toward the contrary, Porsche is insistent that a rear-engine design is the best way to make a sports car. So its fans are equally as stubborn. They don’t like change, they don’t want a new Porsche with all of the gadgets that make it go faster. If you asked them, they’d still want their 911s air-cooled. But BMW isn’t a company that rests its laurels on the past. BMW is a company that looks forward.
If you look at every great BMW throughout history, they’ve all broken new boundaries for the time. The 2002, 3.0 CSL, M1, E28 M5, E30 M3, etc, all were far ahead of their time. So, even though many BMW fans are up in arms about the lack of manual gearboxes in so many new cars or the death of hydraulic steering, BMW must push forward and be that pioneer. It can’t sit around and reminisce about that days that were.
Should BMW cut manuals out all together? Of course not, not for a very long time. Manuals should exist for as long as they can, because you can’t forget your roots. But making a car that specifically tries to be something of the past isn’t BMW’s style. BMW likes to break down walls and blaze new trails, using its heritage combined with cutting edge technology. BMW is a car company that’s always on the verge of discovery. So even though I’ll be sad to see so many of the old qualities that I so loved about BMWs, BMW knows what it’s doing, and I trust where it’s headed. Not looking back at where it’s been.