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What the Hell Happened to the Porsche 911's Door Handles

Raphael Orlove Jan 18, 2019. 23 comments

No, not in the clip. That they’re not opening. Like, why are they motorized at all?

Back in the mid-2000s, one of the worst things possible happened to the Porsche 911. It was called the Audi R8. Here was a car that offered Porsche performance at a Porsche price, only it looked like the future and the 911 started to look like a very fast egg.

Post-R8, no longer was it enough for the 911 to be fast and practical, it had to be futuristic, too.

A few years ago, the Tesla Model S came out and shocked the world. Here, we all said to ourselves, was the real car of the future. Fast, silent, exclusive, super sleek. The press focused on it being all-electric. Everyone else focused on oh hey the door handles pop out that’s super cool.

That the motorized door handles sometimes had problems , like getting searingly hot in the summer or freezing cold in the winter, was beside the point. The Tesla Model S was the future, and it had pop-out door handles, so pop-out door handles were the future now.

Put those two points together and it’s no surprise that the new Porsche 992 has pop-out door handles, as you can see in Chris Harris’ review of the car, uploaded last night.

I can’t help but find the door handle thing the most interesting part of the car. In the video, Chris says this new 992 is fine. It feels like a 911 to sit in, it feels like a 911 to drive.

But the idea of a motorized door handle on what is nominally an as-minimal-as-possible sports car is, well, maybe not antithetical but a real step change.

Porsche is leaning in on the idea of the 911 as a future-cruiser, as a luxury car .

That’s fair. I get that. The price of the car alone forces it to be a luxury car. With a six-figure starting point, it’s a luxury purchase. And it’s been that way for decades. Sparse as past 911s have been, the cost of those cars turned that spareness into some kind of by-choice anti-excess minimalism. You were buying a 911, not an El Dorado, after all.

And certainly the 992's weight penalty of having a tiny motor in the door isn’t great, while the payoff is big. It’s a tactile reminder of futurism every time you walk up to the car, every singly time you go for a drive. So too is it a reminder of how far the 911 has come from its bare bones past.

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