Don’t get me wrong; I love the 991. I think it’s easily the best-looking 911 and the interior is miles ahead of the 996 and 997 before it.
But the 911 has sort of become a plush GT car compared to its origins as a small, light sports car. Even within those three liquid-cooled generations, there’s been a noticeable shift away from raw sports car feel and towards quiet refinement. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the back seats become usable within a generation or two. Just look at the interior of older 911’s vs. the current one:
It’s easy to blame this on crash and safety standards and all the other factors that have led cars in general to become larger and heavier, but I think it’s something else;
People aren’t willing to accept that they’re paying for a car’s performance. They look at the price and decide that if a car costs a fair chunk of money, it should look like it cost a fair chunk of money, especially on the inside.
Look at almost any criticism of the Corvette or Viper (especially before the current models)
“A car that costs this much shouldn’t have the interior of a Cobalt” or some variation thereof.
I saw it with the Toyobaru cars, and the Miata. I especially see it with the Subaru WRX/STI. People complaining that they were missing features that “You can find on lots of other cars that are a lot cheaper!” Or that “A car that costs nearly $40,000 should have a better interior.”
People seem to have this idea that interior quality, ride quality, and general luxury are just side effects of a car’s price; that any car over a certain price point should have leather seats and fifteen different types of fake wood. The idea that these things are what contribute to that price point is alien to them.
And let’s not forget, speed costs money. Always has, always will. In order to make a sub-$20,000 sedan into a hardcore performance vehicle, you have to put more money into it. In order to make a $20,000 sedan into something luxurious and high quality, you ALSO have to put more money into it. Not just in material costs, but in development and tooling costs.
So if you want both, you’re going to have to pay more money, and suddenly, rather than having a $40,000 car with the interior of a $20,000 car but the performance of a $60,000 car, or a $40,000 car with the performance of a $20,000 car but the interior of a $40,000 car, you have a $60,000 car with the performance you’d expect but the interior of a $40,000 car. And now people are complaining again, so you improve the interior and now you have an $80,000 car with the performance and interior of a $60,000 car. And you can see where this goes.
This is honestly fine for cars that are meant to be both luxurious and performance-oriented. It’s natural to expect that you’ll have to accept some compromise if you want both.
The problem is that this mentality keeps killing performance cars. The 911, M3, and probably plenty of others started off as lightweight, small sports cars that have gotten tangled up in this price/luxury codependence to the point where they’re now more of sports/luxury coupes.
Meanwhile, other cars languish or die at least in part because people don’t think they’re “worth it” because of basic interior quality. In some cases (I’m looking at you, Corvettes) a lot of that comes down to just not really trying very hard. It’s absolutely possible to make a very cheap interior that isn’t shitty.
The interiors in my WRX(07) and STI(05) were really cheap. It was about as basic an interior as you could get. But it was -good-. All the pieces were solid, everything was functional, and it wasn’t goofily overstyled. The seats were comfortable and supportive, the shifter (in the STI at least; the WRX’s 5-speed is a piece of shit) was excellent, and despite reputation I never had any rattles or squeaks. No, it didn’t have leather, or navigation, or heated seats, or 46-way power adjustable captains chairs, or a 95-speaker 12KW stereo system made out of a carbon/baby-hair composite. Yes, a similarly priced contemporary car from Lexus or Acura or someone probably had a lot nicer interior, a smoother ride, and a Navigation system that today would be an eyesore of poor design and usability, but would those cars be even remotely as fun to drive? No. Would they put down performance figures that were even close, for those people who don’t actually drive cars but just compare spreadsheets and decide which is best? Probably not.
But the next time you hear someone complain about a sports car because it doesn’t have “The interior of a $XX,XXX car”, remind them how much it might cost if it did.