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Porsche’s exhilarating atmo manual heroes will survive in the EV future

By Alex Inwood, 09 Jul 2019 News

porsche cayman gt4

Manual gearboxes and high-revving naturally aspirated engines have a clear future and will last for at least another decade, says Andreas Preuninger

ANDREAS PREUNINGER is one of us. A car guy. An enthusiast. A driver.

He also just happens to be the long-serving head of Porsche’s GT division, which means he’s nicely plugged in to what the future of sportscars looks like.

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And in good news for people who care about driving, Preuninger says two of the things we love most – namely the manual gearbox and high-revving naturally-aspirated engines – have a strong future that will last for at least another decade.

porsche cayman gt4

In fact, speaking to Wheels at the launch of the second-generation Cayman GT4, Preuninger went so far as to say that companies moving away from those technologies are making a blunder.

“I think we have an advantage in the market over the competition because everybody has skipped and deleted the atmospheric engine and deleted even the manual gearbox. That’s a mistake! Because if you look at the take rates on the GT model side, in some markets half of the cars are manual and everybody is longing for a car like this with a normally aspirated, high revving engine,” he enthused.

“It’s not an A-to-B means of transportation. It’s something you do for yourself, it’s something you do for pleasure and in that case it’s a healthy car, it’s like medicine because everybody is grinning and that’s healthy.”

Music to our ears, that is. And don’t think that Preuninger is stuck in the past either. He’s excited about Porsche’s first electric car, the Taycan, and believes the advent of EVs needn’t spell the end of performance cars as we know them. 

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“I’m sure there will be a lot of garages where a Taycan is parked next to a GT3 RS and it’s no contradiction,” he told us. “The good thing that we [Porsche] decided to do is not to neglect one for the other.”

Preuninger is very conscious of ever tightening emissions laws – he says it’s these, not mechanical limitations, that will determine the power outputs of future GT department engines – though he’s equally aware of the shortcomings of EVs when it comes to delivering the sense of analogue connection his cars are famous for. 

porsche boxster spyder

 “I think everybody takes notice and understands that we have to help on the automotive side to get emissions down, and I think for a car that’s used mainly in the city, in the big urban areas and isn’t used for the long-halls, then an electric car is perfect. It’s great! 

“But the expectation might not be that it’s a thing I have the urge to drive just for the sake of driving. For that hobby instrument, we want GT cars to be alive as long as possible. 

“I think they’ll be asking for that type of car [GT models] in 10 years as well, why should they change their mind over night? And it’s a big customer base and we have to look after everybody, from the younger ones to the older ones to the hardcore enthusiasts as well.”

Read about the Boxster Spyder

Preuninger confirmed that despite his personal appreciation of the benefits of EV powertrains, Porsche’s GT department has no plans to fettle with the Taycan.

“No. We’re in different departments with different missions. We have good contact, we’re a relatively small company still and we talk a lot and we share our experiences and most of the people who work at Porsche are absolute car nuts. So we exchange cars with the Taycan team, but we’re not involved in any electric approach or project right now.”