Quote Of The Day: The Sports Car Is Dead

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”

Speaking to Automotive News, Robertson noted that SUVs and crossovers have replaced the sports car’s function as a status symbol, while emerging markets tended to gravitate towards large sedans that one can be driven in.

While those of us who love driving will scoff at the notion that a CUV could ever replace a sports car as the most desirable automobile, market data has shown that the CUV is the most desirable body style not just in North America, but in many emerging markets – in both locales, it serves as a symbol of affluence and high status, despite what we may consider to be inferior attributes vis a vis a passenger car.

The other factor is that driving conditions have changed. Increased congestion, urbanization and a demonization of speeding (backed by harsh, if not draconian penalties) has made the notion of a sports car an outmoded one for many people. Even the latest 991 Porsche 911 GT3 has abandoned the manual transmission. And while Porsche claims this was done in the name of technological advancement, let’s not fool ourselves: it was a careful, calculated move designed to appeal to the poseur who wants the GT3 because of its racing heritage, despite never intending to take it on track, much less above 60 mph.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Nov 13, 2014

    The sports cars still alive, the definitions just gotten a bit warped since roughly EVERY CAR has to be "sporty" these days, both in terms of styling and handling. Out of the numerous cars I've driven only 3 were proper sports cars, an '84 Mustang, an 80's Nissan 300ZX, and a Merkur Xrt4i. Neither of these three felt that sporty, granted they were automatics and were the more "common" V6 or non-turbo variants, Merkur aside. I can't say that I get the sports car love, but if theres anything that I despise its cars that try to be "sporty". What you tend to end up with is the worst of both worlds, a non-sports car with compromised space for "sporty" styling and stiff suspension.

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    • Ccd1 Ccd1 on Nov 17, 2014

      @ect I agree. The platform should not matter. Requiring a separate platform for sports cars just drives up the cost and makes it less likely that an OEM will offer one. And it doesn't matter, take a look at the Macan which shares its platform with the Q5. By all accounts, it is a pretty good car and much better than the Q5. Execution matters more than platform

  • Ccd1 Ccd1 on Nov 14, 2014

    I agree that a sports car should look sporty, but STRONGLY disagree that it has to be completely impractical. That is one of the expectations of sports cars that is killing it off, IMHO. I drive an Audi TT-RS which is surprisingly practical with the joke back seats down. There are other cars that offer adequate levels of practicality: Porsche Cayman/911 and the Vette. If you can live with the shallowness of the trunk, the F Type Coupe would quality as reasonably practical as well. Most of us could probably agree on what constituted a sports car in the analogue days. The problem is that traditional definitions start to fall apart in the digital age with things like dual clutch transmissions that offer better fuel economy and faster shifting as well. Unfortunately, there have been few attempts to re-define what a sports car should be. The BMW i8 being the only real attempt at re-defining what a sports car should be. Until the sports car is redefined and there is some level of consumer consensus with the redefinition, the chasm between new and old will continue to grow. Prior generation 911s will remain popular because the car better reflects traditional concepts of what a sports car should be than its faster, technologically more advance successor. I'm in the camp myself as I look on the sports car landscape and don't see a sports car that combines the performance and practicality of the car I currently drive.

    • Ect Ect on Nov 14, 2014

      For most people, it's probably like porn - as Justice Potter Stewart admitted, they can't define it, but they know it when they see it.

  • Ccd1 Ccd1 on Nov 24, 2014

    There is an interesting interview with the guys from the Classic Car Club of Manhattan on the YouTube channel, Drive, on the Porsche GT3. That car is part of their fleet and their take on it is that the car is so good, it simply cannot be appreciated on public roads. A lesser car would be more rewarding on public roads because you could explore its limits.

  • Exclusivehire Exclusivehire on Feb 09, 2015

    Younger buyers’ have been pretty much hollowed out by the last few jobless recoveries. A hugely expensive depreciating asset is not high on the priority list when you’re already eyeball-deep in debt and working a string of unstable contract-only jobs