When Porsche started making the Cayenne at the start of the century, it must have felt like it had unlocked the formula for successful nuclear fusion, while everyone else was labouring away with dull old inefficient nuclear fission. Suddenly the apparently impossible became easy, as the seemingly immutable laws of car construction turned out to be, in fact, very mutable indeed. Those laws said you could make money either by selling a very large number of cars for a very small margin, or vice-versa. The Cayenne said otherwise, and Porsche has been cashing in ever since.
Which was clever, but not as clever the relationship between Porsche’s SUVs and the sports cars that were all it made for the first half-century of its existence. For while Porsche is now overwhelmingly a manufacturer of SUVs and other four door family cars, it is their profits that allows Porsche to invest heavily in its sports cars, despite their sales and margins being tiny by comparison. So why continue at all? Because it is those very cars in whose reflected glory the SUVs bask. A base Macan has the same badge as a 911 GT3 RS (okay, the RS has a sticker not a metal badge, but let’s not be picky here), and in part it is that legacy into which you are buying. You are a Porsche driver.
And when the sports cars are as good as they have consistently been in recent years, we have no problem with that. Truth is the formula works and you only have to look at the fact that Porsche is estimated to be worth about the same as the entire rest of the Volkswagen Group, despite producing fewer than three per cent of its cars.
The way it has blazed a trail to its future with the best electric cars we’ve yet seen, while always remaining true to its roots and remembering that whatever you make it’s ultimately all about the product, is a lesson worth learning for all car manufacturers, wherever they are and whatever they sell.