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Porsche is a brand that’s made its name by staying traditional. The 911 sports car has always had a flat six-cylinder, for example. Since the 1940s several features of Porsches have remained standard, even on today’s SUVs. What relic of the Porsche 356 do all of the brand’s SUVs still have today?

The key is always on the left

Porsche’s have always had a funky, at least for American audiences, key. It’s always been to the left of the steering wheel. Even on Today’s non-sports cars like the Macan and Cayenne SUVs, the key or the push-button starter, are all on the left.

“Yes, all Porsche models, whether they have two- or four-doors, have the key on the left of the steering wheel,” said Porsche Product Spokesperson Calvin Kim. “Models equipped with Entry and Drive (our keyless start system), will have either a rotating switch that gives the tactile feel of a key, or a push-button start (like on the Taycan) on the left of the steering wheel as well.”

Why is the Porsche key on the left?

1968 Lemans Start
At the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968 drivers ran to start their cars | Bernard Cahier, Getty Images

Like many Porsche innovations, the left-hand key goes back to racing. In the good old days of sports car racing of the 1950s and 1960s at races like the 24 Hours of Lemans or at Daytona, drivers didn’t start their cars on the track. Instead, the cars were parked on the side, and when the starter dropped the French flag according to Car Magazine, the drivers would run to get in and start their cars.

At the time, Porsche engineers realized that it was quicker for a driver to use their left hand to start the car while their right hand was engaging first gear. It makes sense. Since then, it’s been a hallmark of Porsches, even if you’re not running to your Macan or Boxster in a crash helmet in the Trader Joe’s lot.

These “Le Mans starts” stopped in the 1960s because they were incredibly unsafe. Can you imagine trying to start and launch a race car with drivers still running on the track in front of you? However, Porsche’s left-hand key stuck around.

What is new for Porsche’s SUVs in 2023?

Not much is new for Porsche’s SUVs in 2023. For its best-selling SUV, the smaller Macan, there’s a new Macan T trim that adds the company’s track-focused Sport Chrono package. Other than one new color for the Cayenne, that SUV remains the same.

For  2023, the Macan starts at about $60,000 and comes with a 261-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. The V6 in the S and GTS versions pumps out a healthy 434 horsepower, making the Macan one of the quickest SUVs you can buy.

The base Cayenne, which is quite a bit roomier, has a 355-horsepower turbocharged V6. It starts at about $74,000. The upgrades, in the S and GTS trim, each get 434-horsepower or 460-horsepower V6 engines. It’s also offered in an E-Hybrid trim that comes with 455 horsepower and plug-in-hybrid functionality. It comes in nearly 20 different versions for 2023.

But no matter what’s new, Porsche keys will always be on the left.

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