What if someone poured soy milk in your cappuccino – without asking? What if Justin Bieber covered Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven on a keytar? What if someone made you guacamole – and then put peas in it?
Sometimes, the original is best. Certainly it seems so in the automotive world, where traditions are formed over long product arcs, and then somebody goes and does something different and everyone gets their noses out of joint.
On one hand, sometimes a little disruption is necessary. On the other hand, have we mentioned the whole pea-guacamole thing? Taste is subjective, but where the purists were concerned, these times the innovators pushed things too far.
Water-cooled Porsche 911
Porsche purists are traditionalists, in the same way that the Spanish Inquisition was just the teensy bit picky about religious adherence. Suffice to say that almost any time there’s a change, the Porsche club types lose their collective minds. ’Twas never more so than with the Great Schism of 1998 – when the Wasserboxer arrived.
Not a particularly attractive car with its rheumy-looking headlights, the 996 was nevertheless a quick and comfortable machine, and I maintain that the Turbo variant should not be as cheap as it is on the market. Buy one immediately, if you’ve got the funds.
However, owing to the engine-destroying Achilles’ heel of the Intermediate Shaft Bearing Failure, and the shared-with-Boxster doors, the 996 is still the ugly duckling of the 911 family. Which is why you should buy a Turbo model, tune it to 600 hp, and blow all their doors off.
Once upon a time there was a Bavarian company that made cars called the Ultimate Driving Machines, and all was well. Now, they make something called the BMW X4 coupe-styled crossover, and the sound you just heard was me throwing up in my mouth a little. Make that a lot. And all over the carpet.
We can lay the blame at the feet of the first X5 which, actually, wasn’t all that bad. The design aged well, it offered decent performance, and when the first Cayenne came along it suddenly looked like BMW knew what they were doing. On the other hand, must every Ultimate Striving Machine be a crossover with non-functional fender-vents?
Saab has been dead for years, though the corpse twitched for a bit. Blame GM for running the company into the ground with a bunch of badge-engineered nonsense. Of particular whomp-whomp note is the Saab 9-7, which some wags have dubbed the “Trollblazer”.
The Saab purists were annoyed by all of it, even a car that was pretty good. The Saab 9-2X Aero was basically a Subaru WRX wagon with better noise insulation and the quicker steering rack off an STI. Years on, Subaru owners love them, while Saab owners eye the 9-2X with suspicion.
Porsche 911 GT3 – PDK
Here we go with Porsche again. This time, it’s the arrogance of Stuttgart’s engineers that’s getting on everyone’s nerves. Having declared the manual transmission kaputt, Porsche told owners of its most track-focussed model to quit clinging to the past and embrace the more efficient dual-clutch future. No stick-shift for you.
Predictably, this made a lot of purists angry, whether or not they were in a position to actually afford a 911 GT3. But then, surprise surprise, Porsche released a limited-edition 911R with a manual. And after that sold out, they brought the manual back with the next iteration of 911 GT3. There’s good money in this whole irritating pedants business.
Pity the poor Renegade. It’s as cute as a button, half inbred pug and half stunted Tonka toy. I can’t help but love it in yellow, even if it is about 30 percent too expensive.
Jeep folks don’t like the Renegade one bit. Even though it actually has decent chops in the Trailhawk edition, they see it as a cynical attempt to cash in on Jeep’s long heritage. Not so fast, says I: just like a real Jeep, it’s inefficient and ponderous on the road.
I think we can all get behind this one, just before we push it off the nearest cliff. The Fiero was a mid-engined car slightly ruined by parts-bin engineering, then perfected at last before being immediately cancelled. I hardly need add that it was a product from 1980s General Motors.
In my humble opinion, a good-condition Fiero GT is probably worth preserving. Unfortunately, all kinds of very silly people like to fit fibreglass kits of varying degrees of quality, and pretend they’ve suddenly got a Ferrari F355 or similar.
It’s the equivalent of going out on a date with a crayon drawing of Alexandra Daddario. Nobody’s impressed, genius, let alone the Ferrari tifosi.
Dodge Charger sedan
The Dodge Charger was originally a two-door muscle car, one which we all fondly remember soaring through our childhood while Waylon Jennings narrated. Come to think of it, Them Duke Boys had a Charger with no doors, just open windows to slide through.
Well either way. When Dodge brought the Charger name back in 2006 as a four-door, more than a few folks took one look and said, “We don’t like your kind‘‘round here!” But then they made a Hellcat version and everyone jumped (over the Bridge Out sign) for joy.
Subaru WRX as a sedan only
All right, confession time. I, too, am guilty of being a purist. It drives me absolutely up the wall that Subaru doesn’t offer a hatchback or wagon version of the WRX any more, especially when they’ve got a perfectly good platform with the Japan-only Levorg.
The WRX wagon line stretches right back to the original release (again, Japan-only) in 1992. All-wheel-drive, turbocharged, cargo-carrying capability has been a Subaru tradition for twenty-five years. C’mon, Subie, at least throw us a sop with a turbocharged Crosstrek one of these days.
Things aren’t any better over at former rally rival Mitsubishi, who is bringing back the name of the mighty EVO, but not its spirit. The e-Evolution showed up to this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, and it’s an electric crossover.
The crossover part, okay, at least we’ve got the precedent of the Pajero Evo that crushed the Paris–Dakar rally. However, turning the name of a once mighty rally machine into yet another urban jacked-up hatchback? Sigh.
Last, but not least, it’s the latest blasphemy to bother our long-suffering Porsche purists. As if it wasn’t bad enough that everyone else is replacing their characterful eight- and six-cylinder engines with turbocharged ho-hummery, Porsche has now turfed the flat-six out of the Boxster and Cayman models.
Wait, maybe it’s okay. After all, the Porsche 912 and 914 had four-cylinders too... oh dear. The new turbo four sounds like a Subaru and gets significantly worse fuel economy than the old flat-six.
Of course, once again, this is probably just Porsche being Porsche. You may remember that they finally put a 911 engine in the Boxster and Cayman with the Spyder RS and GT4 models – both of which sold out instantly. Very clever, Stuttgart. Mess with the purists, get the profit.