By on January 15, 2012

In 2010, plans of a (by Porsche standards) low-priced cheap Porsche, a mid-engined, entry-level roadster based on the underpinnings of the Volkswagen BlueSport Concept were floated. The car was called a “modern-day 356 Speedster” by some.

On these pages, it was promptly called “a modern-day version of another Porsche Deadly Sin, the 914.”

Porsche decided to sin no more and ditched the roofless cheapo.

Last year, Porsche chief Matthias Müller continued to sing the praises of

“a legitimate successor to the Porsche 550 – namely a small mid-engine sports car. Actually I couldn’t imagine a better name for a small roadster like that than the 550.“

Now, the car is dead. At least for the foreseeable future. In an interview with Germany’s Wirstschaftswoche, Müller didn’t say that the car is dead, but as good as dead, quite dead, actually:

„Possibly it will take until a future generation of customers until a small roadster is a good fit with Porsche. “

Phew. That epiphany took a while. Porschephiles already had feared an across-the-board loss of Ueberholprestige, resale-value and babe-magnetism, inflicted by the puerile Porsche on the hallowed brand.

Müller is now thinking in the other direction: Bigger,  faster, pricier. Mumbled Müller:

 „Between a 911 GT2 for €250.000 and a €750.000  918 Spyder is a gap of half a million euro. Why shouldn’t we come up with a car for €300.000 to €400.000? That would be immediately accepted as a Porsche.”

Nods all around in the Porsche paddock, while wannabe Porsche owners pull out Miata catalogs.

 

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41 Comments on “Porsche Will Sin No More, Ditches Cheap Roadster...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Panamera, Cayenne, another crossover on the way, and you’re calling a sports car a deadly sin? Check yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1 – I agree, but it sounds like the “problem” was with it being “cheap”, rather than if it was good or bad. It shows where their priorities lie.

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      For me, an honest and functional sports car from Porsche would have given them some legitimacy that I think they currently lack. From the outside looking in, Porsche jumped the shark with the Cayenne.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      Boooooo! Just when I thought Porsche finally “got it” and was going to build a stripped down, affordable and quick drop top, they abandon it because, no doubt, it wouldn’t deliver gagging, obscene profits. And here we have a car enthusiast site cheering the program’s demise? What? You would rather they build more silly SUVs? More 911s unobtanium priced for only the super wealthy to enjoy? And insist on calling the 914 a “deadly sin?” (Go talk to 914 racers and tuners, then get back to me on that.) I don’t even know guys any more.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Touche!

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    The VAG empire has assigned some serious future growth numbers for Porsche, that may not be met with sedans & utilities. On another site, a blogger proposed that Porsche try building a successor to the 944/968 as a means of bringing new customers to the brand. This doesn’t have to be a cheaper car than the Boxster since, as a 2+2, it appeals to a different consumer. History shows a greater sales potential for this type of Porsche, and the vehicle would certainly be better for Porsche’s image. Just a thought. The SUV thing bothers me, too.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Obviously it is all about snobbery. Porschephiles are not worried about resale value, they are worried about being associate with people who have less disposable income than they do.

    If Porsche can justify those hideous SUVs they are selling, off a platformed shared with VW (egads!), then the brand can certainly support a lower priced sports car. Wait, isn’t that what the Boxster was supposed to be all about?

    I’ve never fancied myself owning a modern Porsche or BMW primarily because of the brands association, at least in the US, with a certain customer base.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      You’re missing out on some pretty darned nice cars. Sometimes having the social awareness of an autistic nerd has it’s benefits :)

      In the greater scheme of things, we now live in the GeekAge. Meaning the final stages of our march towards some progressive dystopia, before it all collapses and we get some form of a reset.

      In that advanced stage of sociocultural decline, pretty much everyone has been indoctrinated into believing only what those anointed to be experts say. Meaning that any car that the “experts” call a great car, will be sought after by every progressively indoctrinated drone on the planet. So, demand for them will rise, the manufacturer can charge more, and you end up with the vainest of the vain seeking them out. So, car brands good enough for long enough to be revered by “experts”, will be driven largely by douches. Then, assuming the “experts” have at l;east some idea what they are talking about, the choice becomes drive a douchbagmobile, or drive a shitty car.

      We live in a sad age.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        I can’t help but read this as some sort of apology for Chrysler…

        As far as your sociocultural theory, it’s cute. But when someone starts talking about how everyone but them is a brainwashed drone it indicates that the person has a very shallow understanding of other people. It’s the rantings of a high school intellectual angry at the world because he isn’t getting laid.

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        Stuki, I don’t think progressivism or Geeks have much, if anything, to do with the sadnesses of our age.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      John….What “customer base” is that? The ones who know what good cars should be like? As opposed to the mediocrity pumped out be Detroit over the last 50 years? (Thankfully, that is now changing as the new Ford Fusion and Cadillac ATS are showing.) Your “customer base” implication certainly can’t be money, as the average full-sized American SUV costs more than a basic 3-series!

      • 0 avatar
        John Horner

        I never wanted to buy a Hummer, Escalade or other monster truck either.

        Arrogant, self-important, entitled, dismissive, pushy … those are a few of the descriptors which come to mind.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    So does this mean the Bluesport is finished at VW? I was looking forward to the diesel version coming to the US.

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      +1. Though I never really expected it. The diesel BlueSport would make a nice combination of fun car (if it’s available with 3 pedals) and efficient commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      That’s my thought. People are acting like this is snobbery, but my guess is that the whole small mid-engine platform (bluesport, Audi, and Porsche) are all going.

      Sad as it is, folks these days are not buying sports cars. The FR-S looks like it will pull in some people, but not in the number VAG probably wants.

      I know I’ll get shit for it, but it also looks to me like another case where a car for the upper middle class is canceled in favor of another car for the uber-wealthy. If you look at who is able to buy cars right now, you see why…

  • avatar
    carguy

    Bertel – I don’t think that Porsche’s sins ever involved discounting products. They mainly included overextending the brand into SUVs and producing some unreliable products. A focus on the $35-50K sports car market would have been a minor sin in comparison.

  • avatar

    I don’t need no stinkin Porsche, as I don’t want to be associated with Cayenne and Panamera owners and the like.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Have you ever driven the Panamera in anger? I can’t vouch for their owners, but that thing really is the Porsche of 4 doors, and not at all (or, at least not entirely) some milquetoast posermobile.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Probably a good thing for Porsche.

    The $35-40k sports car/coupe market is pretty saturated in the US market, at least. That’s right in the heart of 370Z territory, and Nissan doesn’t shift too many of those things. Below that, the Miata and FR-S/BRZ will carve up the entry level market pretty well.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    To paraphrase seventies’ GM CEO Thomas Murphy:

    “Porsche is not in the business of making sports cars. Porsche is in the business of making money”.

    • 0 avatar
      4-off-the-floor

      +1

      Scan the options pages for any Porsche model.

      There’s very little profit(by Porsche standards) to be had in this market segment.

      Funny how I was inquiring about the existence of a 4-cyl. Porsche in another thread.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Murohy’s comment is nonsense. ALL car manufactures are about making money.
      Some are just better at it than others. And we can see that GM didn’t exactly judge this part well, or their 2009 bankruptcy would have happened.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    I thought that the 914 was a great car for someone wanted a decent roadster and did not want to spend a lot of money. About as much of a sin as a Miata :) Too bad that entry-level roadsters and convertibles are no more… But a Porsche would had not been entry level anyways…

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The 914 was a great handling, little car. Noting at all to be ashamed of. Perhaps not all that as an aspirational vehicle for dentists, banksters and trustafarians; but for drivers, it was quite OK.

    • 0 avatar
      Byron Hurd

      “About as much of a sin as a Miata”

      One is a Mazda and the other is not, and I’ll comfortably posit that Porsche can’t build a better Miata than Mazda can. And remember, a key to the Miata formula is affordability.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Hey that looks like paint job on James Dean’s Porsche, “Little bastard”.

    Speaking of Dean, how many people know that Bill Hickman, who was the stunt coordinator for Bullett (also was the character who drove the Dodge Charger in that movie) and played the Fed in the French connection, was a best friend of Dean, and was they’re at the accident site and Hildeen as he died?

    Regarding Porsches productus-interruptus, I wonder if this on account of all the new Japanese metal about to enter the market?

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I knew it. Hickman was driving the support vehicle (a Ford station wagon) and was the first on the Dean accident scene.

      Hickman’s other ‘big’ movie role was as a similiar non-speaking hitman/driver in The Seven-Ups. He drove a Pontiac Gran Ville 4-door in that one.

      But since you mentioned the name of Dean’s Spyder, something generally not known was that Hickman was the ‘Big Bastard’ to Dean’s ‘Little Bastard’.

  • avatar
    ccd2

    Porsche’s marketing strategy is hard to fathom at the present. It might work if you want to be a purveyor of a limited number of expensive vehicles. It does not make sense if you are trying to substantially increase volume. Yes, there might be a lot of room between the 918 and the next highest price Porsche, but not a lot of volume.

    The good news in this is that Porsche will not be moving the Boxster/Cayman upmarket to make room for the new baby Porsche. But any volume will be had at the bottom of the market, not the top. Even without moving their cheapest cars “upmarket”, they are expensive for what they offer and not well equipped at that. If I were trying to increase volume, I’d keep prices the same and start slowing adding in option like the Convenience Package as standard items to increase the value proposition.

    There may be few sports cars that can compete with the Cayman/Boxster and 911, but there are a number of sports sedans that offer performance close to that offered by Porsche (at least on public roads), are much are versatile, better equipped and cheaper to boot.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Time for the 912

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I really don’t see how a new small Porsche would have worked out as a winner. Share components with the big boys in the line-up and costs get out of control. Suddenly the car costs as much as the Boxster. Don’t share compenents and its “not a Porsche” but a VW ala the 914. Further (as a rule) the guys who will want them (as a rule) can’t afford the prices the Porsche service department will want to work on them. Suddenly in the 3rd year of production and warranties expire, the cars get a reputation as easily broken and expensive to fix. Porsche gets critized for wanting to become a full line manufacturer.
    Finally, as has been pointed out, this isn’t the biggest niche in the market. There’s already plenty of competion there too

    The Honda S2000 is a good example of a great car in this price range that got discontinued because the market wasn’t big enough to support the car.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Good point about the S2000, but the part about cars getting a reputation as being easily broken and expensive to fix already has happened to the Boxster. An independent Porsche shop I know of used to pick them up for very little from customers who balked at repair costs. I don’t think they even bother doing that anymore. If the same things always fail spectacularly you really can have too many parts cars.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    They already make a ‘cheap’ Porsche. It’s called a VW Beetle.

    This age old gripe reminds me of Acura guys bitching about a lack of a TSX Coupe. Go buy an Accord Coupe.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    After hawking uglyass SUVs and perhaps the ugliest 4-door luxury sedan, Porsche finally takes their balls out of their purse and axes another cheapening of the brand. Too little too late to grow scruples after you’ve whored yourselves out, Stuttgart.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    So we don’t get our GT86 from Toyota and we don’t get our neo-914 from Porsche — if there’s a VW version, that’ll be fine. I wonder if they’re pricing themselves out of the market at $30+, though. Particularly if the 200HP (vs the BlueSport’s 170) FR-S/BRZ is going to be cheaper.


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