Mentioned on Twitter and expanded here: Dan Neil’s recent review of the Porsche Panamera GTS is decidedly mixed. The people posting comments at the WSJ (yes, I know, newspaper comment sections – where civility and intelligence go to die) don’t seem to get that, however. They’ll debate the relative merits of the Maserati Quattroporte, or argue about whether sedan and SUV brand extensions are appropriate strategy for a company known most for roadsters.
But they don’t address the fact that Neil is trolling Porsche fans and supercar drivers in general. That’s why he begins by casting the Panamera as the car in a modern-day remake of The Great Gatsby. The fact that Gatsby owns a Rolls Royce, he says, means something – that’s why Neil is so annoyed to see it swapped for a Duesenberg in the most recent movie. Gatsby had a Rolls Royce because buying one was a quick, vulgar, ostentatious status symbol in the Roaring 20s.
Look, we all might think it would be grand to live like Gatsby, but that’s not the point of the novel, and that fabulous car and those fabulous shirts don’t actually make Gatsby good or great.
So, what does Fitzgerald’s novel have to do with a $150,000 sport sedan like the Panamera GTS? Dan Neil is a clever writer but not a subtle one, so he actually says it twice: Like Gatsby’s Rolls Royce, the Panamera GTS tells the world that you’re desperate for people to envy you, and that you’ve got more money than brains. It is, he says, the perfect car for the rich to drive while committing vehicular manslaughter.
That’s not a positive review. Sure, he loves the acceleration and the beautifully stitched leather interior, and he obviously enjoyed his afternoon in the driver’s seat, but he’s not willing to give an ounce of respect to anyone rich and vulgar and dumb enough to actually buy the damn thing.