Do Porsche and BMW Engineers Understand Women?

Sometimes, I find myself looking for a way to ensure I evade one of the greatest challenges anybody who writes about cars has to face. I call it the "connaisseur syndrome" and it's all about those times when you simply can't escape the preconceptions one's experience with cars brings.
On most of these occasions, I turn to what has proven to be a mighty efficient solution. A friend. She's been into cars for years, but never from the petrolhead's point of view. Instead, she treats them as a melange between the feelings and emotions they stir up and their lifestyle footprint.

The bit I like most about asking her opinion on new cars I drive is that I always know what to expect - surprise. Without ever reading a line about these machines before she meets them, she somehow manages to strike me with conclusions that prove as solid as those assembled by our entire team of editors. She's the kind that can feel the spirit of a car over a cup of tea.

Speaking of which, I woke up this morning feeling I was missing a final edge on the BMW i8 vs. Porsche 911 comparison I'm thinking about this week. I've been driving BMW's halo i car for the last few days. While comparing its ups and downs with that of the Neunelfer wasn't too difficult, I had the sensation I was missing that kind of point that appeals to the non-technical, human side of a buyer.

A few hours later, she was riding shotgun in the i8, as we had planned a more complex assessment than usual. The idea was to bring her toddler son along for an even more open-minded approach, but that wasn't necessary.

When she saw the car, the i8 won her over on the spot. She fell silent though, climbed aboard and didn't even pay attention to the awkward entry process. After only ten minutes of my... chauffeuring, she told me she likes the 911 better.

Oh, I forgot to mention this. She's pretty familiar with the rear-engined Porsche, since both the 997 and the 991 generations have been in the garage of her family. Both were Targa models, so the fashion twist was present.

She's the kind that would easily swap an iPhone for a Blackberry and vice-versa over usability assets introduced by new generations. Thus, it's not like she didn't dig deep enough into the hybrid depths of the i8. Instead, it was her instinct talking to me.

So I told myself "OK, this i8 may be a memorable experience for me, but BMW engineers apparently haven't managed to understand women all that well." And just as I decided to store that as the conclusion of the morning, a question came to my mind - "But what about the 911, which one did you enjoy best?"

Much to my astonishment, she said: "They were both pretty much as sweet to live with." And that's when I realized the major leap Porsche engineers achieved with the 991 wasn't everything. Even now I am tempted to talk about how they worked on the chassis, but I would only miss the point.

This means that Zuffenhausen's engineers might need to study the female psyche a bit more. After all, you do see plenty of ladies behind the wheel of 911s, so the business case for this one is solid.

On my way to the office, I remember the stereotype about women relying too much on their hearts when assessing a car. And then it hit me - if we, men, are the rational ones, how come we're sometimes tempted to choose a Panamera over a Cayenne, while a lady would always go for the more practical of the two?
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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