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Old 06-08-2012, 10:06 AM   #1
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The new Boxster - the triumph of technology over skill?

Yes, the new Boxster is both an incredible value for the money and a show-case for modern technology. Pedro, of Pedro's Board, notes that in testing he has found the automatic to be faster than the standard on track; not surprisingly, virtually all versions that have been made available for testing have also been automatics.

I have little doubt that a modern automatic can be made to shift faster than any human can shift a standard transmission. I also have no doubt that it can also be made to downshift more smoothly and quickly. In the same vein, I have little doubt that within the next 20 years we will see cars with computer programs that will not only allow them to steer and brake without human imput (simple verions are already being tested), but that especially on circuits with pre-determined and programmed corners, they will be able to do so faster and more consistently than a comparable care using human control.

Am I the only one who sees this a retrograde step (or steps) for the driver who takes pride in developing his skill. Who enjoys a perfectly (or more realistically, close to perfectly) executed double-clutch downshift? So what if a computer can do the same better - what pirde is there in that? Who wants a car that can be driven more quickly by an unskilled driver using computer controls, than one driven less quickly by a highly skilled driver using considerable skill? The unskilled driver, that's who!

The music industry has changed so that it is no longer necessary for singers to be able to even carry a tune. Autotune programs allow terrible singers to maintain (or at least, to appear to maintain) perfect pitch, even during 'live' performances. The result are labels eager to sign untalented artists who suit the image - the only important thing - that they want their artists to convey. Is there anyone else here who hates the dillution of talent that has been brought about by this modern technology?

I will continue to muddle my way through, driving a car with a standard transmission, no traction control and care less if my times are beaten by some unskilled 'driver' who can only perform with computer-aided shifting and traction.
To me, that is the essence of a 'sprots car'. It rewards those who make the effort to hone their driving skills.

Brad

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Old 06-08-2012, 10:38 AM   #2
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It's a valid argument but I don't see a lot of guys still running these cars:
http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/black_beast

My great grandfather was a Studebaker dealer from 1911-1925 and also a race promoter in those days. It was the beginning years of motor racing and required a great deal of skill and courage. If you got it wrong, you were killed.

I have appreciation for both driver skill and marvelous technology. My current car has no nanny controls other than ABS and a rev limiter which purists still consider a technology crutch. I enjoy the freedom and simplicity of these cars buy my next one just might have to be PDK. It really is that good. YMMV
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:44 AM   #3
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Brad - I am with you brother! I posted a similar statement in this thread: http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/35816-picked-up-987-week.html
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:45 AM   #4
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The future will have SkyNet… You won’t have to drive. No more Truck Drivers, big loads will be going down the road by themselves. You will jump into your Porsche and tell it (vocally) your destination and away you go. Cars will communicate with each other over Radio Frequency links, and to the SkyNet, providing important positioning and speed data to each other. No more traffic jams. People can text to their hearts content, or take a nap (that’s what I will be doing), and not have to worry about a thing.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southernstar View Post
In the same vein, I have little doubt that within the next 20 years we will see cars with computer programs that will not only allow them to steer and brake without human imput (simple verions are already being tested), but that especially on circuits with pre-determined and programmed corners, they will be able to do so faster and more consistently than a comparable care using human control.

Brad
Not so simple versions have been tested extensively. Google has logged a couple hundred thousand miles on public roads with cars that had a person in the drivers seat but provided no input at all.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:54 AM   #6
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I got a wrench to throw into the works!

The next time you, or your wife/kids, fly commercial... do you want them flying in a plane with simple controls from a 1940s Cub? Or the automation of a modern aircraft?

But really, it's all about the tools. We should be able to choose what tools we want and what we don't want. From what I've been reading in the current Porsche rags, the hardcore racing heritage Porsche drivers don't mind the modern electronics in Porsches, just as long as it's an option and they can opt-out.
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:09 AM   #7
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The next time you, or your wife/kids, fly commercial... do you want them flying in a plane with simple controls from a 1940s Cub? Or the automation of a modern aircraft?
I was flying in an Avro Lancaster 2 years ago, and I had a chance to chat with the pilot who is a commercial pilot for Air Canada.

He tells me he will take the Lanc every. single. time if he chooses between that and a commercial airliner. You had to literally fly that damn plane, like you know, a real pilot.

Talk about feeling the soul of an airplane...

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Old 06-08-2012, 12:39 PM   #8
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porsche is already working on this. i posted an article last year on it. they're calling it "acc innodrive" (adaptive cruise control, innovative drive) GPS maps out the route, it takes things like corner radii, traffic, elevation changes, posted speed limits, etc. and the computer manages throttle, gear changes, etc. (though currently you get to steer)...

http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/29496-porsche-acc-innodrive.html
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:53 PM   #9
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I am all for present and "engaged" driving with limited crutches. Skill mastery and involvement is where the fun interest and fascination is. Even sound and smell are key to a driving experience...it will be a sad day when there is no exhaust note talking back to you.

I fear that PDK will removed a little too much of the involvement; but certainly there skill involved, perhaps a new skill in place of the old...left foot breaking. I am pretty sure a fair bit of PDK speed will come from guys riding the brakes, blazing into a corner hard on the left foot...ceramic/or? rotors will become a major track item....perhaps
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:11 PM   #10
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Agree entirely. PDK totally kills the driving experience.

However, it does allow unskilled drivers to jumo in a sports car and ping up and down the gearbox like a pro. So commercially, it's a no brainer - most people love PDK.

So long as they keep doing the manual, let them have PDK. Only problem is that the 991's manual gearbox is compromised by being based on the PDK box. So they is a downside to this new tech, even if you don't opt for it.

At least the 981 has the proper manual carried over from the 987.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by southernstar View Post
Yes, the new Boxster is both an incredible value for the money and a show-case for modern technology. Pedro, of Pedro's Board, notes that in testing he has found the automatic to be faster than the standard on track; not surprisingly, virtually all versions that have been made available for testing have also been automatics.

I have little doubt that a modern automatic can be made to shift faster than any human can shift a standard transmission. I also have no doubt that it can also be made to downshift more smoothly and quickly. In the same vein, I have little doubt that within the next 20 years we will see cars with computer programs that will not only allow them to steer and brake without human imput (simple verions are already being tested), but that especially on circuits with pre-determined and programmed corners, they will be able to do so faster and more consistently than a comparable care using human control.

Am I the only one who sees this a retrograde step (or steps) for the driver who takes pride in developing his skill. Who enjoys a perfectly (or more realistically, close to perfectly) executed double-clutch downshift? So what if a computer can do the same better - what pirde is there in that? Who wants a car that can be driven more quickly by an unskilled driver using computer controls, than one driven less quickly by a highly skilled driver using considerable skill? The unskilled driver, that's who!

The music industry has changed so that it is no longer necessary for singers to be able to even carry a tune. Autotune programs allow terrible singers to maintain (or at least, to appear to maintain) perfect pitch, even during 'live' performances. The result are labels eager to sign untalented artists who suit the image - the only important thing - that they want their artists to convey. Is there anyone else here who hates the dillution of talent that has been brought about by this modern technology?

I will continue to muddle my way through, driving a car with a standard transmission, no traction control and care less if my times are beaten by some unskilled 'driver' who can only perform with computer-aided shifting and traction.
To me, that is the essence of a 'sprots car'. It rewards those who make the effort to hone their driving skills.

Brad
Well I suppose one could rip out that modern new fangled fuel injection and install carbs and while your at it bolt up some drum brakes and really let us see your skill? Seems like you decide where you want to be with a vehicle and go from there. Disparaging those that like the TIP or the PDK is just an opinion and we know opinions are like A**holes, everyone has one. Also chuck those damn balloon radial tires and go back to some solid rubber, makes sense, no? Something is lost and something is gained. Just ease up on the folks that enjoy honing a "More perfect" line that the PDK might let you achieve. And that is MY opinion, for what it is worth.

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Old 06-08-2012, 02:47 PM   #12
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Now think about the next generation of kids who are growing up .. as PDK and such technology becomes prevalent in the affordable used cars market .. the manual shift transmission will be looked at as a tool of the dinosaurs .. its sadly the only logical outcome.

Why would a younger newer driver go buy a manual shift car .. then spend a bunch of time / money / learning to drive a manual shift car .. then probably still lose in a race to his friend who probably just got a license but drives a PDK car that cost 'almost the same'. He's gonna look like the biggest idiot in the world to all his friends. Most teen ego's can't handle that, so most will stay away from the 'hassle' of an manual gear box.

Eventually no demand will result in manufacturers no longer wanting to supply, and the manual gear box WILL become a tool of the 'dinosaurs'. We'll be the ones telling stories about the good ol days where a man had to learn to master his tools.

F'it .. this makes me sad .. I'm swapping back out to non ABS brakes this weekend .. LOL
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:47 PM   #13
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Agree entirely. PDK totally kills the driving experience.

However, it does allow unskilled drivers to jumo in a sports car and ping up and down the gearbox like a pro. So commercially, it's a no brainer - most people love PDK.

So long as they keep doing the manual, let them have PDK. Only problem is that the 991's manual gearbox is compromised by being based on the PDK box. So they is a downside to this new tech, even if you don't opt for it.

At least the 981 has the proper manual carried over from the 987.
Yup, which would always be accomplished in front of your 986, I wonder if the Ferrari drivers that use it in races feel that way?

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Old 06-08-2012, 03:40 PM   #14
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Ummm, what?
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:26 PM   #15
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Its all a slippery slope. When synchromesh transmissions were invented, the purists said it was an unfair advantage in a race. Today, F! cars have all kinds of automation, but it still comes down to a guy going through the gears, turning the wheel and hitting the brakes. Someone still wins and loses in the most technologically advanced racing in the world. So the human element is still there.

What I don't like is technology that takes away the fundamentals from the driver, like the I No Drive Porsche development, that takes away braking and acceleration from the driver and only allows him to steer.

Its just one more step to cars that drive themselves completely, so that we can just sit back and go online and drink Lattes and have no imput in driving.
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:34 PM   #16
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I don't see how it being PDK negatively effects acceleration at all, there's a reason the new cars are quicker than the manual. It's also six speeds in sport plus so choosing gears for driving conditions is not an issue, especially with the sport wheel and paddles. I would never say manual sucks, it doesn't, it's fun and so is PDK. It's just my opinion but the spyder is awesome fun to drive, I shift as much as ever I just don't need my left leg.

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Old 06-09-2012, 02:47 AM   #17
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I will continue to muddle my way through, driving a car with a standard transmission, no traction control...
...and with power steering, electronic fuel injection, ABS, stability control, variable valve timing, electronic brake distribution, and a host of other technologies that improve the driving experience.
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:23 AM   #18
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I was flying in an Avro Lancaster 2 years ago, and I had a chance to chat with the pilot who is a commercial pilot for Air Canada.

He tells me he will take the Lanc every. single. time if he chooses between that and a commercial airliner. You had to literally fly that damn plane, like you know, a real pilot.

Talk about feeling the soul of an airplane...
Interesting input from the pilot. I flew UAVs in the military and over 90% of the human factor was removed with minimal input from the operator, flying a mission is now completely safe for the pilot but if I had the chance to fly my missions in a "real" plane I would have taken my chances in it.

I'll drive a manual transmission over any Tip or PDK any day. I know the PDK is faster and more economical but to me the enjoyment is in the process of driving and not just the end result of performance numbers. Automation and system control logic gives us many things, especially safety but I fear we may be losing more than we realize.
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:34 AM   #19
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I fear we may be losing more than we realize.



I've read a lot of the same worries about cursive writing, there are few cash register employees who know what counting change back means or why you gave them $5.25 for a $5.22 tab. Everything changes nothing is static, manual box is awesome and according to a yahoo story making a resurgence. PDK is a lot more fun than ANY other selected manual I have driven, my mom's subie has a tip style box too, worlds apart from the Boxster.
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:48 AM   #20
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...and with power steering, electronic fuel injection, ABS, stability control, variable valve timing, electronic brake distribution, and a host of other technologies that improve the driving experience.
But that's precisely the point. Treat each technology on its merit.

Gear synchros? Don't detract from involvement, do improve gear changing. Tick.

ABS? Rare cuts in on the road when pressing on unless you're hamfisted, possibly a bit more intrusive on track. A qualified tick.

Power steering? Another one that's a bit in between depending on the system in question and preferences.

PDK? Removes gearbox and clutch control from the driver. Reduces involvement. Cross.

We can of course argue the details for each technology. But it's just not true to make this a binary argument in which you must either embrace any new technology or reject it. In other words, it's perfectly logical and reasonable to reject PDK but embrace gear synchros.

Like I said, each on its merits. PDK makes driving so much less fun.

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