Ask the Best And Brightest: Should Evolution Be Fat or Skinny?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
ask the best and brightest should evolution be fat or skinny

While reading the responses to a recent BMWBLOG posting by Josh Lewis, I noted that one of the posters had put together a very interesting comparison of the BMW M3 and the Porsche 911. To put it mildly, somebody’s gone Kirstie Alley while somebody else has stayed Goldie Hawn:

Here’s the comparison, with the data being attributed to Wikipedia, Porsche, and BMW media resources. I’ve removed the GT3 and added the Carrera 3.2 to keep things historically similar:


E30: 2,740 pounds, 192 HP, 17/29 mpg, L=171″,W=66.1″

E36: 3,219 pounds, 240 HP, 19/26 mpg, L=174.5″, W=67.3″

E46: 3,415 pounds, 333 HP, 16/24 mpg, L=176.8″, W=70.1″

E92: 3,704 pounds, 414 HP, 14/20 mpg, L=180.3″, W=70.2″

Porsche 911 (base):

911: 2,700 pounds, 207 HP, 15/22 mpg, L=169″, W=65″

964: 3,031 pounds, 247 HP, 17/25 mpg, L=168″, W=65″

993: 3,064 pounds, 282 HP, 17/25 mpg, L=167.1″, W=68.3″

996: 2,910 pounds, 296 HP, 19/28 mpg, L=174.4″, W=69.5″

997: 3,075 pounds, 325 HP, 18/26 mpg, L=175.6″, W=72.9″

*1984 Carrera 3.2 US spec

Based on what I’ve seen over a few years instructing at open trackdays, I would suggest that the average novice driver will be somewhat faster around a track in the M3, but that the difference decreases dramatically as the skill level of the drivers increases.

Who’s got it right: Porsche, which has kept weight and power close to the Nineties levels, or BMW, which keeps turning up the volume?

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4 of 41 comments
  • Patman Patman on Sep 11, 2010

    It's remarkable to me that after a 300 Lbs increase between the 911 and 964 variants, Porsche has managed to keep the weight stable for 20 years while adding more features and meeting ever stricter government regulations and growing a few inches too, and don't forget adding a water cooling system along the way. Power has gone up and fuel efficiency has improved. Well done Porsche.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Sep 12, 2010 That should settle the issue of obesity in America...It's not trolling Donovan, it is the sad truth. Cars are not the only thing that have exploded in size.

  • Donovan Colbert Donovan Colbert on Sep 12, 2010

    You know what amazes me? The same people who were furious that our government got it wrong on the WMD claim in Iraq will throw a CDC report on obesity onto the table as if it is indisputable fact and not potentially biased by government agenda. But if you read that report, it has an underlying theme that neither the media nor the people who want to claim *America* is fat want to face up to... Go ahead, follow golden2husky's link to the CDC report, read the report and then ask yourself... Does this report actually apply to the typical target demographic of a North American Porsche or M3 buyer. Because it is clear that even golden2husky didn't take the time to actually understand the CDC report, I'll save some time here. The answer is "no". The typical target demographic of a North American Porsche or M3 buyer is probably among the LEAST likely to be affected by obesity in our society. The more granular this report gets, the clearer it is that the "obesity epidemic" isn't as broad as the media and the government would like you to believe - and where it is hitting the *worst* isn't in a segment of society that is most likely to be looking for a Stuttgart badge on their car. It is trolling. It is bringing an entirely unrelated political talking point into a discussion about automobiles. It has no place here. Another flaw with this argument - the American *hubris* that these cars were designed with the *AMERICAN* body-type in mind. Let's be clear. The UK is the second fattest nation in the world, closely following America's statistics, but without the radical divide by ETHNICITY in obesity. You know where the trends align? By income and level of education. To wit, the UK's weight problem isn't largest among those most likely to be looking at a luxury German badge as an automobile purchase. Going further, there is a huge concentration of purchasing power in the Middle East in nations like Dubai and Saudi Arabia. These are huge markets for Porsche and high-end BMWs. The argument that these kind of cars are growing in size because America is *fat* is spurious. It isn't like the difference in euro-spec and American-spec accommodates for American *body* size. But you're right, there is an epic explosion of not having any critical thinking skills in America today, and it is tragic.

  • Niky Niky on Sep 13, 2010

    Strange... my IQ is in the 140-ish and up range and I drive a compact. Maybe I should upsize... - I think it's awfully misleading to compare a sports sedan (two-door or four, it's still a sedan) based on a mainstream model and a sports car that isn't. The 911 hasn't had to get bigger to keep up with the Joneses... the M3 has. Look at the aforementioned Miata... Mazda has kept the weight gain minimal between generations, even as their compact cars have gained more and more weight. Used to be their Familia weighed about as much as a Miata, but the new Mazda3 is about 400+ pounds more than the current MX-5 with the same engine (2.0). - I'm sure a lot of us would like to see a return to simpler days when we all drove cars with Twiggy-sized waistlines.... but there's a good reason why cars are bigger nowadays... I might miss the light and nippy feeling of the car I learned on (a 93' Sentra... arguably the best Sentra there ever was)... but I don't miss scrunching up my legs to fit in the back seat (or the front!), the way crosswinds would blow you two lanes to the right or the wonderful crash safety that the thin tin-panels afforded.