The thing that most irritated me about
the 718 Boxster S
? It wasn't the turbocharged engine. Indeed, I enjoyed the application (and sound) more than many seem to like the idea.
So I don't think Porsche has dropped the ball with its take on turbos and downsizing. I will, however, call it out on perhaps the stupidest example of 'driver assist' tech found in any modern car, a feature it shares with the new turbocharged Carrera. And that's the self-blipping rev matching on the manual gearbox. Or, more specifically, the hoops you have to jump through to disable it.
Hang on, shouldn't we be celebrating a manual option in an age where most people think the clutch pedal is as relevant to modern motoring as a starting handle? Yes, and it seems ungrateful to moan. But for all the modern performance cars to maintain a stickshift option - BMW, Corvette and Aston Martin included - it's frustrating they then instantly devalue the purist appeal it implies by fitting default auto rev matching.
When you witness - or perform - a perfectly executed downshift blip it's a moment of beauty by virtue of the fact it's not easy to perfect. I can still vividly remember attempting to pedal off a Pistenklause hangover by taking my mountain bike out to the further flung corners of the Nordschleife. Leaning on the Armco at Fuchsrore the morning air was pierced by the Mezger engine of a fast-approaching 996 GT3 RS. Flat through the dip, its driver performed a rev-perfect heel'n'toe downshift blip as he trailed the brakes into the left-hander before Adenaur Forst. Respect due to the hand at the wheel - that was a committed move demanding skill and coordination, no electronic flattery going on there. If you see the same in a 718 Boxster or turbo Carrera there will be no such wonder. Even if the driver was a proper helmsman you'd shrug and assume they were letting the black boxes flatter to deceive.
This is properly elitist detail. But elitist detail that matters to folks like us and speaks volumes about the real target audience of the car. The real killer on the new Porsches is that the rev-blipping is assumed as necessary when you spec Sport Chrono. It is off in Comfort but if you want to enjoy the Sport or Sport Plus you have paid extra for the only way to disable it is by turning the stability control completely off. This is just daft.
Indulge my snobbery but if you need the help of a system like this it should be an opt-in, buried in the menus. Not the default. I'm loath to blow yet more smoke up the 911 R's rear but the fact Preuninger accepted he had to have it but insisted on a simple 'on/off' says a lot.
Like many my heart soared at the news of a new manual V12 Vantage S. And then sank when the press release boasted of AMSHIFT rev-matching tech. An email to Aston Martin confirmed you can at least turn it off. As I write I'm off to have a go in the new BMW M2, which I understand does it too. If I was an owner having to press buttons to turn it off every time I fired it up would wind me right up.
Or maybe I just need to get out more.