The new Porsche 911 has a fancy and rather chunky electronic key but, thankfully, Porsche has resisted the temptation to endow the car with a gimmicky ‘Start’ button – I have one of those on a BMW 5 Series and it’s pointless and annoying as you have to do two actions – insert the key then move your hand away to press the button.
Keys have changed more than you might think over the years, as have the way we use them.
With older Porsches the key was a simple mechanical device that was used to unlock the door (yes, by inserting in the lock and turning). Then Porsche added the heady luxury of a little light that came on when you pressed a button to enable you to see where the lock was on a dark night.
When remote central locking came along, the actuator was originally separate to the key, on a fob. However, with the Porsche 996, the key and fob were fused together to give a slightly larger key with buttons incorporated into the handle.
The key itself became more sophisticated, to the degree that you could no longer pop into your local locksmith to get a replacement cut – you had to visit a Porsche Centre and pay dearly for a new key.
I’ve a 996 key in my hand at the moment and I reckon it’s Porsche’s best ever key. It’s smooth, elegant and not too large. The 997 key that followed was a similar size but, with its grey plastic edging doesn’t look or feel as sophisticated. The Cayenne has a gimmicky and large key that apes the shape of the car, as does the Panamera; why does a larger car need a larger key? It doesn’t.
Say what you like about the Porsche 996 but there’s no denying it has a lovely key!