By on June 28, 2009

Ever since Porsche debuted the Cayenne, Porschephiles have heatedly debated where it fits into Porsche’s branding strategy—or if it should even exist. When SPEEDtv.com Editor in Chief Tom Jensen reviewed the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, he declared that the four-wheel-drive trucklet is a “true Porsche.” He states that “the Cayenne Turbo is absolutely faithful to Porsche’s core values of performance, quality and competency” and is therefore worthy of Porsche-hood. Despite its ungainly exterior, early reviews of the heavyweight four-door Porsche Panamera make the same claim. (Autoblog: “Not only is it painstakingly engineered and truly enjoyable to drive… most importantly, the all-new Panamera has earned the right to wear the Porsche badge.”) So what say you? What makes a Porsche a Porsche? With the “independent” sports car maker on the brink of losing its independence, has the fabled Porsche brand finally lost the plot?

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83 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: What Constitutes a “True Porsche”?...”


  • avatar
    highrpm

    I agree that Porsche has lost the plot. I still remember the t-shirt that read “To Hell with LeMans – let’s build trucks” that the faithful wore in protest of the Cayenne a few years ago.

    A sedan now? Come on. People are buying the badge here, not the performance. I like minivans – how long until the VW minivan (or should I say Chrysler) is rebadged as a Porsche?

    A friend of mine commented recently that the C6 Vette is the same size as the 911. I think he was trying to say that the Vette has shrunk to more sporty proportions. I made the comment that in reality, the 911 has gotten bigger, fatter, and softer.

    Porsche is chasing profits now, instead of focusing on building world standard sports cars.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    Three words: Porsche Westfalia Camper.

    It. Could. Work.

  • avatar

    My one drive of a Cayenne was totally underwhelming. The thing handled like jam.

    For more I’d refer people to Capt. MIke’s recent review of the Cayman PDQ, or whatever.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Porsche used to be to sports cars what Rolex is to watches: The single minded focus on perfection through years of iterative improvements. Unfortunately along the way they got confused and thought they were an upmarket BMW which tries to be a driver focused full ranger car maker.

    Maybe they did it because they were worried that their loyal consumers were getting old and no longer interested in two-seater sports cars. So instead of finding a way recruit a new generation of Porschephiles, they are chasing the existing generation to the grave. Coming soon – the Porsche Buick.

  • avatar
    Aloysius Vampa

    I have absolutely no problem with the Porsche Panamera.

    Also, why does this article change when I click on it?

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Bloat does not a Porsche make.

    Let’s look historically. The core models will forever be the 356 and 911, and any evolution from that concept. Models that differs too much, will have a clear identity problem.

    914 = Not enough Porsche, either technically, designwise or in execution.

    924 = Not enough Porsche, criticized for its “Audi” engine and VW parts bin. Not even built by Porsche.

    928 = Engine in the wrong place, too little brand identity. Extending upwards into gentlemen’s expresses, dilution of core value.

    944 = Enough Porsche. Finally. Porsche engine, built in Porsche factory.

    Boxster = Too little differentiation from the 911 concept, why share identical front end, for half the price? Dilutes the 911 more than the Boxster, and the Boxster will forever be the 911 for people who can’t afford a “real” Porsche.

    Cayenne = The reasons are too obvious to state.

    Panamera = It’s the 928 story all over again, only this time even longer, bloatier and heavier. Panamera is truly an abomination.

    So, where does this leaves us?

    Porsche is and forevever will be the company that launched two of the most coveted, successful, and most above all, reliable in an every day manner sports cars in history, the 356 and 911. Stick to that concept, because extending the concept will destroy it. there are other brands to cater for other needs.

    I would even go so far as to say that Porsche could even extend downwards into VW territory, with a Porsche version of the Audi TT/VW Sciroxxo chassis, in a true 356 Speedster fashion, above the TT in price, but below the Boxster. Everything else just isn’t a real Porsche

  • avatar
    dwford

    Is the Cadillac Escalade a true Cadillac? One could argue it is the only true Cadillac left.

    There comes a point where the brand’s original MO is no longer enough to sustain it, and the brand needs to branch out to survive. Should the brand let itself die as a pure martyr, or expand to live?

  • avatar
    volvo

    From my experience I guess air cooled rear engine must be the true Porsche.

    I had a 928S for about 5 years back in the 80′s. It was the most effortless car I have ever owned. Fast and completely neutral in the twisties. Fit and finish outstanding. Arguably the most technically advanced car of the era.

    But to the Porsche faithful of the era it was not a “true porsche” and it died an untimely death (like some 911 owners who got in over their heads).

    When we are all driving EV’s the 911-EV will be an improvement since with the batteries in the front it will approach 50/50 weight distribution.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    No, I wouldn’t consider the Escalade a true Cadillac. Cadillac doesn’t make trucks. Period. It’s as simple as that. And Porsche shouldn’t have built trucks either.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    If you see someone driving a Porsche and do not automatically go into suffering-from-Tourettes like fits of saying “douchebag, douchebag, douchebag” then it is not a true Porsche.

    That is why cars like the 914 have historically failed to be true Porsches.

    911: Yes, only a douchebag would spend $70K plus for a car with its engine in the worst possible location. In a design that Porsche stole from a 1930s Czech car.

    Cayenne: Yes, the most “Porsche” Porsche yet, only a true douchebag would spend a premium for an uglier Touareg with a crappier interior.

    Panamera: A non-douchebag might buy one. Possibly not a Porsche.

    Cayman/Boxster: No, as the most affordable, most reliable mid engine car on the market, with an actually attractive design, particularly for the Cayman, it is quite likely that the driver of one of these is not a douchebag. Not a real Porsche.

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    Cayman/Boxster: Fail, as the most affordable, most reliable mid engine car on the market, with an actually attractive design, particularly for the Cayman, it is quite likely that the driver of one of these is not a douchebag. Not a real Porsche.

    Amen.

    Why do people insist that a company can’t change and still be the same company?

    Would it make them happy if Porsche told everyone that they had replaced the ‘o’ in their name with a 0 (zero) ? That way they aren’t the same, and the same old expectations no longer need apply?

  • avatar
    Robstar

    IMHO True Porsche requires the following:

    *RWD (maybe AWD)
    * Rear Engine
    * Must be a car

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    This:

    http://www.141.com/vir2004/Porsche%20tractor.JPG

  • avatar
    ruckover

    Paul,
    I lust after the tractor, but would my farming buddies would think me a douchebag if I owned a Porsche tractor?

  • avatar
    Rusnak_322

    I had a 944 turbo and a 911 back in the late 1980′s and didn’t think that the 928 was a “real Porsche”.
    Now I am kinda lusting after them.

    I doubt that will change with the truck and sedan.

    But in defense of the SUV, my wife wants something bigger then her A4 to haul the kid(s)and it has to be AWD and a manual trans, under $35k new or used. The Porsche SUV is one of the few that will work for her.

  • avatar
    1169hp

    Well. As a Douchbag with Tourettes, I can say that any Porsche offering is a “real” Porsche if that’s what the badge/emblem says.
    Porsche is just a name that the manufacture sticks on to its cars.
    Again, it’s just a car. A piece of metal, rubber and plastic etc…

  • avatar
    rcolayco

    If “Porsche-ness” were defined by its having its engine behind the real axle, then Porsche would ultimately become like Morgan.

    To me, The qualities that define the marque are: (1) Superb handling combined with tactile driver involvement, & (2) Reliability that arises from robust engineering design.

    I own & regularly drive a current model Cayenne Turbo as well as 3 911s – a 996 Turbo, 997 GT3 & a 997 Ruf. But I intend to replace the Cayenne in a couple of years with . . . a Audi R8 V10.

    Driving a very quick, huge SUV’s nice but the experience does get old after awhile. The top-powered 911s are a delight to drive & sufficiently different from one another as to provide a satisfying spread of driving experience.

    So why the planned switch to the Audi? Because at this point, the inherent problems incurred with a rear-mounted engine have become increasingly exposed by well-developed competing products based on fundamentally sound design.

    It’s time for Porsche to apply their brilliant chassis fine tuning to a mid-engined/rear-drive platform. When they decide to develop a Cayman (or whatever else they name the thing) weighing no more than 1,400 kg. but with about 500 PS/700 Nm, that’s when I’ll be back.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    For me, I think air-cooled, rear engine sports car. I’ve owned 2, one the unloved 914, and my other, the favorite was the 912. Even though it had the smaller engine, it was so much fun to throw through the turns.

    I do like Dan Neil’s review of the Panamera where he says, “The 2010 Panamera sedan is filled with luxury and speed. But compared with a 911, this thing handles like well-upholstered field artillery.”

    To me, that is not a Porsche.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I quite enjoyed Dan Neil’s take on the Panamera.

    The materials are exquisite, the seats are fantastic, the four-seat interior design is the best on the market and the whole thing is so summarily pleasurable it makes me want to empty out the nearest FDIC-insured facility with a tommy gun, a la John Dillinger.

    The damned car is magnificent. But it is not made of the same charmed isotopes as the 911, and therefore not a Porsche. Sorry.

    Well, I’m not so ready to write it off. And I find myself wishing that they did make a new 928 on this platform. To hell with the air-cooled boxer purists; I have a feeling that the product people at Porsche know how to manage the brand more than they do. What does really risk diluting the brand is all of these financial shenanigans. I’m willing to stomach a Porsche that makes a SUV or a sedan far more than a Porsche that goes broke trying to buy VW.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    This is a simple case of selling out a brand name for a quick profit, right?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The whole brand purist thing leaves me cold. A Porsche is whatever the company chooses to sell. If people buy them and like them, the product is a success. If not, then not.

    The Boxster and Cayenne together probably saved Porsche from oblivion. So what if some people hate them?

    Porsche needs a seriously upscale, fast sedan to play in a wider market. The Maserati Quattroporte is doing just fine for itself even though it has, gasp, four doors.

    BTW, there are good reasons why every other company has given up on rear engined cars. It is a suboptimal architecture, and getting around those failing with electronics and other tricks isn’t ideal.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Let’s turn the question around: does the Panamera deserve to be built, as designed by Porsche engineers? If the answer is “yes” (as early reviews would suggest), would putting another brand on the car really change anything?

    So far, the arguments that have been made all revolve around the idea that the Porsche brand is best when it’s used to sell only one particular kind of product, just as the Apple brand is best when it’s only used to sell computers and not music players or phones. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the argument that the brand must be that narrow. As long as Porsche keeps building focused sports cars, their brand will stand for that. Dilution occurs when the historical core of the brand is weakened, but I think the continued success of the Boxster, Cayman, and 911 speaks otherwise in this case.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Pavlov’s porschefiles make Porsches Porsches.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    The whole brand purist thing leaves me cold. A Porsche is whatever the company chooses to sell.

    It works for Pontiac.

  • avatar
    coatejo

    Porsche is the only modern German car that maintains any form of reliability after the waranty expires. Audi, Benz, BMW, and especially Volkswagen are engineered to be a beautiful driving machine for 3 to 4 years tops, then they descend into a abyss of mechanical and electrical nightmares. Porsche’s are briliantly engineered to work. Every. Time. If it is designed by Porsche, built by Porsche, and called a Porsche, it is a real Porsche. A 911 is the purest expression of a Porsche to me. The Cayman/Boxster looses a little because the assembly is outsourced. The Cayenne is , at best, a joint-venture project with VW, so I think it is very comprimised as a Porsche. I fear for the brand if VW gains control.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Maybe Porsche summed it up best in a long gone ad campaign with the slogan “A Porsche isn’t for everyone”. Porsche’s were always meant to demand as much from the driver as the driver demanded from the car and not be a grocery getter for footballers, celebrities and wives of well heeled suburbanites. The Cayenne, by any measure, does not meet that benchmark. Let’s hope the Panamera doesn’t turn out to be a Bentley alternative for those who prefer the look of the Porsche badge.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Wasn’t there a huge fuss like this when Porsche made the 996 water-cooled, and again when the Boxster came out?

    I’d probably say great performance with a minimum of compromise, is what Porsche is aiming for. Whether it be a rear engined car, mid engined roadster or a 4000lb SUV.

    A Cayenne S is the only Porsche I’ve driven and I enjoyed it. I thought, “It would be great if they made this a sedan.”

    coatejo :
    June 28th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Porsche is the only modern German car that maintains any form of reliability after the waranty expires.

    Boxsters have IMS failures, possibly up to 1 in 3 cars. BMW isn’t too bad these days, though.

  • avatar
    CarShark

    This article (and many of the comments) are full of the same enthusiast conceit that taints so many of the branding posts here. You all may have your own ideas about what makes a Porsche, but in the end, none of them matter. What matters is what the prospective Porsche buyer thinks. If all they care about is 1) does it look good? 2) is it fast? optional 3) does it handle?, then all of this is an academic thought exercise. Some people here need to get out business class and into reality.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Porsche’s were always meant to demand as much from the driver as the driver demanded from the car and not be a grocery getter for footballers, celebrities and wives of well heeled suburbanites.”

    The company’s sales would be cut by more than half should Porsche’s customer base ever exclude those undesirables.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Unlike Porsche’s main rivals – Ferrari, Aston, Lamborghini, and the like – there is no huge mass-market automaker paying the bills with volume-seller Everydaymobiles.

    Therefore, we might bag on the Panamera and Cayenne (and rightly – they’re both butt-ugly), but frankly, the rationale for making them for an independent automaker like Porsche is simple: every one sold makes it possible for them to keep on improving the REAL Porsches: 911s, Caymans and Boxsters.

    Given the excellence of the core Porsche line, I can live with a Cayenne or two.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Strippo Quoted me thus:

    “The whole brand purist thing leaves me cold. A Porsche is whatever the company chooses to sell.

    It works for Pontiac.”

    But, you conveniently left out the full statement I made: “The whole brand purist thing leaves me cold. A Porsche is whatever the company chooses to sell. If people buy them and like them, the product is a success. If not, then not.”

    Pontiac sold many different kinds of products over the decades in which it was a successful brand. The problem since the 70s has been that Pontiac didn’t build nearly enough vehicles that people bought and liked. Pontiac’s failure isn’t a case of a brand building products for the wrong segments, it is a case of building marginal products.

    A bad fast luxury sedan would do Porsche harm, but a great fast luxury sedan will not hurt Porsche at all.

    Oddly enough, Corvette fans are not bothered by Chevrolet also building very pedestrian cars and trucks.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t know if it should be considered a “True Porsche”, but Porsche better hope that its badge sells things because I think the Panamera is one of the ugliest cars out there.

    The thing looks like a 911 limo built by a custom-coach works from 1977. The Bentley, Mercedes, BMW, and Maserati competiton are much more attractive.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Porsche is about fast vehicles.

    Is the 911 fast? Yes.
    Is the Boxter fast? Yes.
    Is the Cayman fast? Yes.
    Is the Cayenne fast? Yes.
    Is the Panamera fast? Yes.

    The idea that there must be a true Porsche reeks of snobbery.

  • avatar
    carguy

    John Horner:
    “Porsche’s were always meant to demand as much from the driver as the driver demanded from the car and not be a grocery getter for footballers, celebrities and wives of well heeled suburbanites.”

    The company’s sales would be cut by more than half should Porsche’s customer base ever exclude those undesirables.

    Very true and symptomatic of Porsche’s attempt to (over)extend their brand and venture into the world of full line car makers. I hope that works out for them but currently they’re in a mess and looking for cash in the middle east.

  • avatar
    carguy

    quasimondo:
    The Cayenne V6 makes it to 60 in around 8 seconds – the same tame as many mid size 4 cylinder FWD sedans. Who ever thought that a slow and obese Porsche was a good idea?

  • avatar

    I spent Friday driving a tuned 997 GT2 that, in my hands, ran from 0-170 (that’s One. Seven. Zero) in 14.5 seconds and ran down American Iron cars on a road course.

    I don’t give a shit what else they make. Keep making stuff like that.

  • avatar
    vww12

    This thing will sell like hotcakes.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Nope, I think Porsche has lost the way. All of their range today are hideously complex. This complexity has added weight that detracts from the Porsche “feel.” And detracts from reliability which used to be their strong suit. And why does an “engineering company” farm out the engineering of something as important as the Boxster/911 intermediate shafts? In case you hadn’t heard, they are like grenades.
    Porsche’s management need to reacquaint themselves with the ethos that the founder held: “the best, and as light as possible.”
    (with apologies to Colin Chapman)

  • avatar
    Strippo

    But, you conveniently left out the full statement I made: “The whole brand purist thing leaves me cold. A Porsche is whatever the company chooses to sell. If people buy them and like them, the product is a success. If not, then not.”

    Think of the marketing of each product as a battle, and the protection of the brand as the war. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’re not wrong. Or something.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    The best models in Porsche’s lineup are the Cayman and Boxster. In the Porsche tradition, they are fast and handle extremely well. In my opinion, they have replaced the 911 as sports cars.

    The 911 has become a GT rather than a sports car. That is not to say that they are no longer desirable. A normally aspirated, all wheel drive coupe is a fantastic tool for covering long distances at high speed. Therefore, I believe it still qualifies as a “real” Porsche.

    A friend of mine, who has owned a 911 Turbo, now has a Cayenne. He is disappointed. If Porsche makes a profit on it, good for them.

    If the Panamera resembles a 911 with four useful seats, then I think it should be considered a “real” Porsche. If it is just a Cayenne sedan, I think not.

    Of discontinued models, the original 356 defined the brand. The 924 was junk and the 914, except for the 914-6, not much better. The 944 and 968 continued in the tradition of the 356. The 928 is a supercar. If this country had a sensible attitude about highway speeds, New York to San Francisco could be done in 24 hours with a 928 GTS. I have never understood why people turned up their noses at it.

  • avatar

    From a question of performance, the Cayenne is a total failure – a truck that acts like a sports car? I’d have more respect if it could haul stuff and actually do truck-like things.

    The Boxster may be for people who can’t afford a 911, but it is the better platform, so it counts. The 911 of course. I’d say the Carrera GT wasn’t really a Porsche so much as another generic super-car, and not even that great of one for the money.

    They are, of course, doing the same thing BMW did, shifting from sports cars to luxury cars. A small, agile 3-series competitor could have remained more true to the Porsche ethos, especially if they had stripped the bloat out of the current 3 class. A luxo-barge touring car? Never.

    If they are going to be swallowed up into the VW monster, perhaps they can go back to focus on sports cars and let VW take the trucks and basic sedans and Audi have the touring sedan. But I doubt it, since apparently every brand has to compete in every segment.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    If you see someone driving a Porsche and do not automatically go into suffering-from-Tourettes like fits of saying “douchebag, douchebag, douchebag” then it is not a true Porsche.

    Cayenne: Yes, the most “Porsche” Porsche yet, only a true douchebag would spend a premium for an uglier Touareg with a crappier interior.

    Panamera: A non-douchebag might buy one. Possibly not a Porsche.

    Epic lulz. Which only makes this funnier:

    The idea that there must be a true Porsche reeks of snobbery.

    Porsches are the ultimate male handbag.

  • avatar

    @ Kendahl,

    The 911 is NO GT. Its a full on sports car, make no mistake. A GT wouldn’t populate the paddock of the Nurburgring every weekend (and weekday for that matter) if it were a GT cruiser.

    They outrun, and outgun the Cayman’s, simply due to more power, and more grip, and nearly as good handling. If Porsche adds more power to the Cayman (finally), it might change it up a bit, but as of now, the 911′s are the uber-’Ring vehicle of choice. Nothing else touches them. Forget the GT-R, I don’t drive Robots.

    @ everyone,

    I’ve driven nearly everything modern Porsche has to offer, but the Panamera. I own a Boxster S (the original), and a Carrera S (997), and they are every bit a true Porsche. So was the 944, 928, and 356, and yes, the Cayenne.

    What a true Porsche should be, and hopefully will always be is a sports car (or truck) that involves the driver in an interaction to cohesive as to be transcendent that it justifies its exorbitant price. 911, Cayman, Boxster, and the other GT/Sports cars are self evident. The Cayenne, take it off-road, and then you will discover its DNA. It is at much home on the Rubicon Trail (and yes, if you read my Cayenne review, you will see I REALLY took it off road), as a 911 is at home on the Nurburgring. This dedication to providing one of the best driving experiences in its intended mission is what Porsche is about.

    My judgement is reserved for the Panamera. But my initial impression? Its a four-door 924. Discuss.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @Mike Solowiow:

    It (the Cayenne) is at much home on the Rubicon Trail (and yes, if you read my Cayenne review, you will see I REALLY took it off road), as a 911 is at home on the Nurburgring.

    That is an interesting take. So, theoretically, if Porsche were to build a sport pick-up truck that feels at much at home on the job site, towing, and hauling as the 911 does on the ‘Ring, you, as a Porsche fan, would be okay with that?

    I’ve also got to ask, is the Cayenne really any better off-road than the Touareg so as to justify its existence?

  • avatar

    @ ajla,

    Sport Pick-Up. I would say yes… if it were really good at that sort of thing… but towing and hauling doesn’t really translate to driving excitement really, or at least not IMO (tractor-pull fans might disagree).

    And the Cayenne has more off-road goodies standard. And you can get it in a stick-shift, which warms my heart.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    , it might change it up a bit, but as of now, the 911′s are the uber-’Ring vehicle of choice. Nothing else touches them.

    The track is in germany, porsche is the german marquee sports car, and the 911 is the only model they allow the high output motors in.

    If anything, porsche’s been losing the ring title quite badly as of late every since other manufacturers have been testing there.

  • avatar
    carnick

    I think a “true Porsche” is one built by a company that actually cares about the quality of its product, not one built by people who solely and only care about maximizing short-term profits and nothing else.

    I’ve now owned exactly 100 cars in my life, with a few of them being Porsches – a 356, 914, 911, and most recently, a Boxster S, and have driven many more. IMHO, the Boxster was clearly built by people with a different mindset (“The most profitable car company in the world”) than those who built the 356 and 911 (“Excellence was expected”, “There is no substitute”). Evidence of cost-cutting was everywhere in the Boxster. While it was an absolute blast to drive, and made for a fantastic ‘test-drive’, it was not so satisfying to own. Worst of all was the sword of Damacles hanging over the head of every pre-2009 Boxster owner: the ticking time bomb of potential catastrophic engine death due to IMS (Intermediate Main Shaft) failure. When I heard that Porsche was beginning to balk on warranty claims for IMS failures, I knew the time had come to say goodbye to cars now built by hedge fund managers in drag – Wiedeking and Harter.

    IMHO, it doesn’t matter as much what the specifc car is – convertible sports car, sedan, or other (though it is very hard for me to choke down the thought that a SUV can be a “sports car”), but its soul. The 356 and 911, and pretty much any air-cooled Porsche as well as some of the tasty older water-cooled ones (944) had soul. They were simply great cars, no excuses. They were designed and built by engineers who wanted to make a great car, and in the process of doing so, made a profit.

    Wiedeking and Harter don’t give a rat’s a$$ about cars. Their only mission in life is money, and they’re shrewd enough to realize that there are a lot of people out there who will buy almost anything with the Porsche crest on it. For a while. But, just like Mercedes lost a lot of loyal fans over the past few years because of plummeting reliability and quality, so too is Porsche.

    Worst of all, Wiedeking and Harter so completely took their eye off the ball of what Porsche was supposed to do – like, maybe, actually build cars – and got so caught up in their own game of finance that they lost it all in their little game to try and swallow VW.

    Let’s hope that the next generation of management might actually know something about cars and will care to build a quality product, before Porsche goes the way of so many other has-been car companies.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    I have issues with both the Cayenne and the Panamerica. The goals of the Cayenne were flawed to begin with. I doubt many people are going to take the Cayenne off road. As such, a high performance SUV that can actually go off road is the answer to a need hardly anyone has, particularly at the prices charged by Porsche.

    The Panamerica just doesn’t break any new ground. It is too big, too heavy and too expensive. I don’t see much difference between this car and the Caddy CTS-V, which can be had for FAR less.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I’m not convinced a 911 with an automatic is a real Porsche. If the vehicle fits between a Lotus and a Ferrrari, then it’s a Porsche. If it competes with an MDX, LandCruuiser, CLS, Bentley or 750, then it isn’t a Porsche.

    I’m sure the Panamera is a wonderful car. Give it some LED eyeliner and it would be a wonderful halo for Audi.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Strippo:

    Three words: Porsche Westfalia Camper.

    It. Could. Work.

    It. Does. Work.

    Carguy:

    Why have you ignored the Cayenne Turbo that does 0-60 in under 5 seconds and tops out at nearly 180 mph?

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Giving this more thought, this question is best answered in terms of branding. The Porsche brand, as symbolized by the 911, was an exotic performance car like a ferrari that was more affordable, more reliable and more refined for daily driving. This branding still applies to the 911.

    The problem is that every other car made by Porsche apart from the 911 departs from this branding with perhaps the exception of the Panamerica. The other problem for Porsche is that performance differential between cars like Ferrari and non-Porsche cars has narrowed substantially leaving an increasingly smaller area for the Porsche brand. For example, will the Panamerica be an affordable alternative to a true exotic or an over-priced M5 or CTS-V??? The answer will be more a matter of perception that actual difference in performance.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    The Porsche brand, as symbolized by the 911, was an exotic performance car like a ferrari that was more affordable, more reliable and more refined for daily driving.

    The exotics were always frivolous toys for the wealthy. Porsche succeeds in providing those same aspirations in a more practical package, thus its coveted status by the nouveau riche.

    This talk of “heritage” in a sports car is snobbery at its purest, it’s a psychological crutch to maximize separation of egos from perceived lower classes.

  • avatar
    TZ

    Anything that ensures that the company will survive and continue to build cars like the Cayman.

    Pretty simple, really.

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    The fact that so many people have something “important” to say to this question answers it…if it weren’t a Porsche no one would be upset (and) it would have another name on the deck.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “I hope that works out for them but currently they’re in a mess and looking for cash in the middle east.”

    Porsche’s current financial problems are due to it playing the hedge fund/hostile takeover game rather than sticking to designing and making vehicles.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    What do I know, I thought the Cayenne would be a miserable failure. “Who the heck needs a $120k SUV that gets to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds,” I thought. “What a dumb idea,” I mumbled to myself as I suffered in the heat driving my ’84 3.2 Carrera with air conditioning that was marginal when the car was new. Fun to drive, though… “get that darned SUV out of my way!”

    Personally, I think the idea of a high performance sedan somehow fits the brand better in my mind than an SUV… but I disliked SUVs before it was fashionable to hate them. Many of us have to give up 2 seaters and 2+2s as our families expand and a Porsche capable of picking up the kids from pre-school (with booster seats in place) has some appeal.

    The issue with the Panamera may simply be their timing: the economy appears to be stuck in the doldrums for some time to come, fuel prices are sure to rise and people I know who can afford one of these aren’t in the mood to broadcast it any more. I’ll withold judgement on the styling until I see one in the flesh, but I think the other issues will be bigger problems for Porsche.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    They are chasing dollers with the sedan and SUVs. Really, Lotus is now what Porsche was before this dollar hunting nonsense.

  • avatar
    detlef

    Robstar :

    IMHO True Porsche requires the following:

    * RWD (maybe AWD)
    * Rear Engine
    * Must be a car

    These criteria seem to be common among Porsche purists these days. Of course, in response to the wassermotor 924 and 928, thirty years ago “true” Porsches were also strictly air-cooled. When it comes to certain kinds of Porsche (and VW) purists, one can practically hear the disdain dripping from their pronunciation of “wassermotor.”

    With that in mind, here’s a question for all the Porsche purists:

    If the Panamera isn’t a true Porsche, what’s the Tatra 77? 87? 97? 600? 603? 613? 700?

    Perhaps “true” Porsches are, erm, adapted from vehicle designs and market niches already pioneered by other marques, subsequently refined, and then built to Porsche’s own exacting technical standards. In that light, there’s no reason a SUV cribbing the best features of the GMC Typhoon, Jeep GC 5.9 Limited, or BMW X5, or a Facel Vega/Lagonda Rapide/Maserati Quattroporte-inspired saloon can’t be a part of the Porsche brand’s core essence.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    People who buy SUVs of any brand MUST be ridiculed mercilessly, if you’re any kind of car enthusiast.

    X5/X6, Range Rover Sport, AMG ML and Cayenne drivers are “special” cases who also need to be shot at dawn.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    A Porsche has to be:

    Designed by Porsche.
    Built by Porsche.
    Maintain the commitment to quality of Porsche. (Of course, you have to forget the 70′s 911 exploding airboxes, the 924 tranaxles and other failings).

    Above all, it has to perform at the top of it’s class…like a Porsche.

  • avatar
    savuporo

    What makes a true porsche ? I dont know, but it isnt ATTESA E-TS or Nürnburgring times ;)

  • avatar
    Morea

    What is missing from this dicussion is any consideration of racing. Porsche used to have a dominating racing program but no longer. As I pointed out in another thread no 997s (out of 5) finished the 2009 24 Hours of LeMans in the GT2 class, specifically 4 out of 5 dropped out due to mechanical problems (and one crashed out). To make matters worse the top 4 finishers were Ferraris, and more Ferraris started in the GT2 class than Porsches suggesting that they offered a better cost/benefit ratio for those who wanted to win the class, i.e. there were more Ferrari customers than Porsche customers.

    Although Porsche won the weak LMP2 class they do not race in the top LMP1 class in international sports car racing any longer. A merger with VW/Audi will also prevent this because with the Audi R15 as the top car in sports car racing it is unlikely that VW/Audi will compete against iteself by devloping a Porsche to compete against it. (Much as Fiat will not allow Alfa Romeo to race so it does not step on Ferrari’s toes, eventhough Enzo Ferrari cut his teeth on racing Alfas in the 1930s.)

    The Porsche brand used to have a strong motosports program but no longer. Will that hurt street car sales? In the long run, I believe so.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    Reliability??
    Where did you all get that idea.
    Not one word here about the Cayennes’ recall history, which is the worst in the industry.
    Not one word about the notorious problem of Boxsters with cracked blocks.
    The only Porsches that even approached reliability were the front engined, rear wheel drive models. The rest assume you have Bill Gates as a kind uncle.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “They are chasing dollers with the sedan and SUVs. Really, Lotus is now what Porsche was before this dollar hunting nonsense.”

    True, and it makes the point why Porsche has to do more than endless variations on the 911. Lotus is on it’s forth majority owner since the 1960s and is presently owned by Malaysian auto company Proton. Lotus makes most of its money cranking out engineering for hire work for other companies. Lotus hasn’t been able to afford to participate in auto racing for over 15 years now, leaving its 1960s era domination of Formula-1 a distant memory.

    Interestingly enough, Lotus Engineering is credited with most of the design work behind GM’s Eco-Tec family of four cylinder engines. Lotus Car is the manufacturing partner for Tesla’s roadster and is presently partnered with infamous ZAP for work on the ZAP-X.

    Oh yeah, and as a curious little sideline Lotus still makes a few sports cars. Have a look at the Lotus Wikipedia page as it is pretty well done:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Cars

  • avatar

    As one who tends toward the tourette’s when confronted with most Porsches, there is no question that they build exceptional cars and, like BMW, attract some percentage of real enthusiasts who buy them simply for their superb performance. While I cannot imagine what I would want with a Cayenne, I’m sure there are some who actually need a rapid and tall station wagon, and were I one of these, I’d be happy that there is one produced which handles and stops as well as the Cayenne.

    I recently drove a Cayman S with the PDK transmission and found it to be a virtually perfect sports car, save the “fault” of costing $70k or so for one with the options I would select. I cannot imagine spending this much for a two seater, and am thus driving an S2000, but there is no question in my mind that the Cayman is one of the most brilliant cars available at any price.

    The marketing of luxury products is a strange thing and something the Japanese have been very slow to figure out; America lost their way a long time ago. That Porsche nails it on nearly every car they build is what makes it a Porsche. And in the end, who really gives damn what it is that the gold-chainers lust after? Porsches do a superb job of everything that an enthusiast wants in a car. And even if like me you won’t spend the money for one, that doesn’t take anything away from the elegance of the machine.

    As for the Panamera, I frankly don’t find it any more offensive than an S-class, a 7-Series or a Quattroporte. If it acts and drives like a Porsche, I’m sure they’ll find a market for it. There is certainly a demand for high end four-passenger automobiles.

  • avatar

    Porsche may have improved their P&L by introducing the Cayenne but it impaired the brand. The effect won’t be seen for years to come yet.

    Remember when a Porsche 911 was a supercar you could drive everyday? Now it is lost in a sea of BMW’s Audi’s and other originally lesser brands. I place the blame firmly at the feet of the Cayenne

  • avatar
    chuckR

    There are Porsches built the right way and then priced, not priced and built to that price. They are the Turbo, GT2 and GT3 – which have fundamentally different engine designs from the rest of the sports car line. It was a mistake not to move more quickly to fix the problem with the Boxster/Cayman/911 engines of the last decade.

    In 1991, my Carrera 4 was $75K list. Today’s C4 and other 911s haven’t kept up with inflation. Something had to give – it sure wasn’t Porsche’s profit margin. 3% inflation per year starting from $75K is $127K – buys you a GT3. Interesting. I hope their new engine design is more robust, because nobody buys their cars for the amenities. I traded that C4 at 80Kmiles- it had its own problems – dual mass flywheel failure at 37Kmiles, oil leakage at the block to heads – fixed under warranty, worries about the dual distributors and you wouldn’t want to have to find someone to fix the infamous ‘sputnik’ AWD system. All those together weren’t worse than lunching an engine with an IMS failure. And all those had an explanation and a fix. The IMS failure is still speculated about.

    I’m reminded of the old saying that nobody likes bad news, but everyone hates surprises.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I don’t give a shit what else they make. Keep making stuff like that.

    That’s exactly how brands evolve, extend or die. Cadillac extended to include the ‘sclade, Hyundai has evolved to include the Genesis in a different way that Porsche extended to include the Cayenne and now the Panamera.

    Again, branding isn’t static anymore. “We build excitement” could have and should have involved exciting coupes, sedans and convertibles.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “Again, branding isn’t static anymore.”

    I beg to differ.

    All cars are not made to be all things to all people. The sole point of having a niche brand is that it is a niche, it fills a specific need, it is an acquired taste. Somewhere, we get to the soul, the brands core values. Extending those values too far, and the core and soul is gone, the brand tainted and diluted.

    Cadillac is the perfect example. When Cadillac built cars that actually meant something, the cheapest entrance was S-class territory. Extend too much, and the magic is gone. And so it is with Porsche as well. Porsche is a niche brand. They shouldn’t built trucks or suvs or bloated sedans. The 989 could have worked, as it was thought of in the 911 concept level. The Panamera is an abomination.

  • avatar
    NYCDRIVER

    Today Prosche’s position in the automotive world as a premier sportscar maker is only maintained because other more mainstream companies are NOT giving it a serious challenge. Today a Nissan 370z will give you 98% of the performance of the twice as expensive CaymanS or base 911. One can not avoid the questioning how good Porsche sportscars actually are. In the real world where 99% of Porsches will spend the overwhelming majority of their lives the miniscule 2% performance advantage doesn’t add up to much except to the “I must have a Porsche” crowd. Quite simply the driving enjoyment offered by many other cars is equal to that of your avarage Porsche.

    Like it or not Porsche as a brand is all about name and precieved “prestige”. If rich folks were willing forgo the status symbol and purchase less expensive cars for the sake of driving enjoyment makers such as Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, and Honda would be making cars that achive that extra 2% of so called Porsche magic.

    Imagine a what Nissan could do IF they had a market for a $50,000 370z? We would probably have a Z car that was under 3000lbs with a good 400hp under the hood. I would even bet that it would not be built on a shared platform.

    In the 21 century all of the high-end German automakers are fighting tooth and nail to maintain a degree of relevence in regard to the competition coming from Japan in terms of technology and “know how”. If you honestly believe that the IS350 and G37 could not exceed a 3 series in everyway IF (the key word here is IF)Nissan and Toyota had decided to make their cars to the same formula as BMW you need to pull your head out of your……
    The GT-R or “Robotcar” as many here like to think of it, is to Porsche today what the Lexus LS400 was to MB in 1989. The writing is on the wall!

    Yes, the Germans can keep making cars with higher and higher levels of performance but with each new car with HP levels of 500+ their cars are becoming just plain silly!

    With all of that said Porsche NEEDS the Cayenne and the Panamerica. If Porsche can not expand its brand it will quickly become irrelevent in the coming years. Porsche can not make sportcars designed for the street that are capable of 300mph and be taken seriously. They need to make cars that are “different” from what the others are producing. The Panamerica is just that, it appears to be a true 4dr GT car.

  • avatar
    NoSubstitute

    I’ve owned four Porsches and couldn’t care less about Porsche. I just like 911′s. If Porsche stopped making them I suppose I’d find my way to a Cayman S, but it wouldn’t make me as happy. It doesn’t look as good, isn’t really practical (no room for the dog) and most importantly, it’s simply too well balanced. What fun is that?

    Based on the ratio of 911′s (lots) to everything else (not) at my local Porsche dealer, I suspect that a bunch of us feel the same way.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “With all of that said Porsche NEEDS the Cayenne and the Panamerica. If Porsche can not expand its brand it will quickly become irrelevent in the coming years.”

    Porsche needs the Cayenne and Panamera as I need a hole in my head. I would go so far as to say that staying true on course is the ONLY thing that will save Porsche, extending the brand too much will quickly make it irrelevant in the coming years…

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Porsche needs the Cayenne and Panamera as I need a hole in my head.

    They need them if they’re to be anywhere profitable. As much as purists hate to admit it, Porsche has become a lifestyle brand, and those customers aren’t just looking for a literally ass-backwards coupe.

  • avatar

    Narrow Body
    RWD
    Air Cooled

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “They need them if they’re to be anywhere profitable.”

    They seemed to do fine before. Sure, as a niche player, life is more difficult than for companies in the mainstream. But that’s what premiums are for. Buyers a willing to pay a hefty premium to get that “real” Porsche experience. And that premium is were their profits should be. Premium makes niche players be able to stay on the market.

    And the crux is, diluting the brand will make people less willing of coughing up that extra money, as there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference. Difficulties that not only Cadillac and Mercedes have experienced, but even Porsche some thirty years ago. How much time did it take to wash off that 924 stench from the brand? Tainted indeed…

  • avatar
    agenthex

    They seemed to do fine before.

    Now is not before. The price of car development is going up, the credible competitors getting better for less cost, and something has to give. Either they get bought by someone bigger or they expand, and it just sounds like you’d prefer them to be bought at that time instead of expand.

    In any case, it still doesn’t make them any less of a fashion brand overall, and if you buy porsche for their substance, why care they make other stuff.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    So, bend over is the only choice? Please, Sir. May I have another?

    Staying independent saved Aston Martin. Though, what you say makes sense only from a short term economical perspective. The consequence in the form of brand dilution is a whole another matter. The point is, you can have shared costs, and shared engineering, without diluting the brand. Just don’t make the brand all things for all people. Because if that were so, we would all buy our cars at Wal-Mart.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    So, bend over is the only choice? Please, Sir. May I have another?

    These decisions are generally made on their business merit. If porsche is taken only as a car manufacturer, they could’ve been sold like all these other niche brands (in other words, for almost nothing about now).

    In fact, bertel has that editorial about it, though it’s for the whole porsche group.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Maybe I’m just weird, but the only Porsche I have ever lusted after was the 928. My Dad’s friend bought a new one when I was in high school and I thought it was the coolest car ever. And I still think it’s cool.

    It was like Porsche had an epiphany one day in the 70s and decided to hell with all the heroic engineering required to compensate for a dumb rear-engined, air-cooled (super-Beetle) platform … let’s build a well balanced car, with a front engine (water-cooled at that) and rear transaxle. No heroics necessary. And they even gave it a modern interior with decent ergonomics.

    It was a brilliant design, but because the damn “purists” (aka guys who’d developed the necessary skill set to compensate for the old platform’s inherent shortcomings) were offended, the 928 flopped and the rest is history. Just imagine if they’d invested a fraction of the engineering resources it’s taken over the years to tame the 911 into improving the 928 platform.

    It still blows my mind that they can sell Cayennes, but they couldn’t sell 928s.

  • avatar
    hamm928

    The 928 was a success having a production run from 78-95. Most drivers who’ve driven a 928 praise them, they work very well as designed even stock. If you want to modify and race one, you’ll be right up there with the fastest Porsche’s.

    Here’s a few 928 videos to paste in your browser and watch.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXjBsq0fc5E&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsxQZ_H96aY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P29nHru4fvI&feature=related

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Thanks hamm928.

  • avatar
    Speedster356

    I always thought of the Cayenne as the 911 of the family man.
    I think that the Cayenne is the choice not of the person who seeks a good SUV. I is more a substitute for the person who appreciates the Porsche 911 and the brand in general (and can afford one) but cannot fit one in his life style. I think that it explains a large part of the Cayenne success story.
    Based on this, and the declining SUV sales in certain markets, the Panamera is the obvious move for Porsche.
    Is it a true Porsche? WHO CARES?
    As long as it sustains Porsche viable (in order to keep producing unadulterated Porsches) it should not bother the true aficionados!

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    I was suprised at the less that stellar reviews I read in UK car magazines about the Panamera. To the extent that some reviewers said they had more fun and could drive at higher speeds down a B road in a Cayenne GTS than an equivalent Panamera. That’s what would worry me much more than the extension of the brand onto a 4 door saloon. Breaks which do not have the same feel, steering, which is much more vague, and an interior, which looks nice (especially if you like Vertu mobiles) but is a complete ergonomic nightmare with 100s of equally sized and shaped buttons, which cannot be operated blind.


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