I’ve just been driving a Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera with a chunky 968 Clubsport steering wheel – a popular upgrade for 911s of this age. It’s a nice looking wheel and feels good too with its small diameter thick leather-bound rim. It’s the epitome of a sporty steering wheel.
Yet, in theory, it’s wrong for a Porsche 911. You see, when the 993 was being developed, Porsche tasked engineer and test driver Peter Flak to come up with what makes a Porsche 911 feel like, well, a Porsche 911. Falk came up with the term “Porscheness”, something that any 911 should ooze.
He explained that Porsches should have two types of agility – direct and indirect. The former is the quick – and perceivable – reaction to driver input via the brakes, accelerator or steering. Indirect agility, on the other hand, refers to the driver’s perception of the car, through touch, sound and appearance – all of which should create the impression of lightness, speed and controllability. Falks went on to lay down criteria that the new 911 should have in order to ooze Porscheness. Flake cited the 964 as being an agile car, as well as the Honda NSX and, naturally, racecars and karts. He also talked in his report about how a car should look, particularly the cockpit, which should be open and airy with good views in all directions.
Falks also insisted that 911s should have relatively large, thin-rimmed steering wheels to ensure that this agility is transferred to the driver. And that’s exactly what the 993 ended up with, just like every 911 before it. Porsche tried a thicker rimmed wheel and found that alone made the 993 feel heavier and less agile
Indeed, it’s only since the 997 came along that Porsche abandoned this tradition and started fitting thick-rimmed steering wheels to the 911.
Falk was right, of course, Porsche 911s do feel ‘right’ with a thin-rimmed wheel. That said, though, there is still part of me that likes the feel of a chunky wheel like this one – maybe it’s the boy-racer in me.
At the end of the day, it’s all down to personal preference. Choose the steering wheel that suits you and your style of driving.