The steering wheel is the interface between driver and vehicle so it has to feel just right. But what is the correct steering wheel for a Porsche 911?
Back in the early 1990s, Porsche wanted to know what made a Porsche feel like, well, a Porsche. To find out, the company tasked engineer and test driver Peter Falk with defining exactly what ‘Porscheness’ was. After much research and head-scratching Falk came up with a 20-page report that could be summed up in one word – agility.
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.
And key to getting this right is to have the correct steering wheel which, Falks claimed, should be relatively large and thin rimmed. Get in a 964, 993 or even a 996 and that’s just what you will find and it does feel just right. A thin rim encourages you to hold the wheel delicately and almost steering with your fingertips, enjoying the 911’s legendary light steering feel.
Falks was right and it’s odd that today’s 911s, from the 997 onwards, have smaller wheels with chunky rims. Which, to be fair, is what most people expect to find in a sports car.
I have to admit, there is something good about a chunky steering wheel – it gives a car an almost kart-like feel. And my favourite non-standard wheel for a 911 has to be Porsche’s own Club Sport item, which costs about £500. Just slightly smaller than standard with a thick rim and beautifully trimmed with leather, it really transforms the feel of a 911. Does it improve it? That depends on the car. I’ve been driving a lovely 964 Carrera RS recreation and there’s no doubt in my mind that the Club Sport wheel does enhance what is already a great driving experience.