There are a small number of events in a man’s life that he’s sure to remember forever. What would they be? The day he meets the woman he’s going to marry, the birth of his first child, his first business deal, and the day he got to drive every car in Porsche’s range. Thanks to the recent visit to Kuwait of the Porsche World Roadshow Men’s Passion was able finally to experience the latter.
Why ‘Seven Heavens’? Because that’s what we drove: a Boxster, a Cayman, two variants of the 911 (actually there were three, but more of that later), two Panameras, and a Cayenne.
The Porsche World Roadshow (PWRS) travels the globe bringing the Porsche driving experience to its major markets. For only the second time was the PWRS in Kuwait. Kuwait is one of a very few countries the Roadshow visits that has no race circuit on which the cars can be driven, so here we tested the cars under real, on road, conditions.
Led by two professional Porsche-trained and certified driving instructors - yes, a job one could imagine people would be willing to die for - after a briefing and insight into the day ahead, along with an all important overview of the cars, it was out onto the roads in convoy.
The sight of a cavalcade of Porsches line-astern on the roads of Kuwait is perhaps not a rarity - over recent years the Behbehani Group has cemented the brand in the psyche of Kuwait’s car buyers by continually improving the level of sales and after-sales service. Whilst globally the car industry has witnessed declining sales, in Kuwait demand for Porsche is growing. And it’s easy to see why.
For years Porsche was, essentially, the 911. Today it is a car marque that stands for engineering excellence across a broad range of sports-inspired vehicles, all of which retain that vital Porsche DNA.
The Cayman and the Boxster account for more than half of the sales in their particular sectors of the market. Both pure-bred Porsches they offer a dynamic driving experience. Beautifully balanced and true mid-engined sportscars, the sound of the flat-six is a constant reminder that these cars mean business.
The Cayenne recently underwent a significant face-lift, but Porsche didn’t stop there - there are major engineering changes too. We’re left with discovering a car we’ve always loved and that’s just got a whole lot better. More spacious inside than before, lighter in weight, and with the addition of new engine options the Cayenne is now more Porsche than it ever was before.
When the Panamera was launched it was guaranteed to turn heads, and initially raised a few eyebrows too. What was Porsche going to do in this sector of the market? Having built a reputation for sporty and nimble vehicles, surely walking into Grand Tourer-class was a step too far? Not at all. The Panamera has quickly established itself and claimed 20% of the prestige sedan market in Kuwait. There are good reasons for this, and of the cars we drove the 4 and 4S versions of the Panamera were probably the revelation of the day.
What can be written of the 911 that hasn’t already been said? Lots actually, but we’ll save it for another time. Suffice to say for now it’s a classic that Porsche has managed to maintain as contemporary and more of-it’s-time than many other cars in its sector. It’s a vehicle that Porsche continues to re-invent, and as such the 911 remains the backbone and defining element of the German car marque’s range.
Oh, and what of that third 911 I mentioned earlier? Not strictly part of the PWRS, but just coming along for the ride, was a 911 GT3. Racecar-derived, there can be few better or more exciting ways of getting from A to B. A nice, unexpected, bonus on the day.
Behbehani Group recently re-introduced the Porsche Approved pre-owned programme, cars sold under which are delivered with the Porsche seal of approval. It’s worth considering the words of Behbehani Group’s Porsche brand manager, Darren Abel, when he reminds us that “More than two thirds of all Porsches ever built are still on the roads today”. It speaks much for their reliability, longevity, and the fact that over the years they have built timeless classics that still demand to be driven.
Today the Porsche range extends to more than 30 variants across 5 models.
How did the Porsche World Roadshow affect me? Well, it didn’t change my opinion of Porsche - for me it remains possibly the most desirable of marques, and it continues to epitomize engineering excellence. What the experience did do, however, was show me that the models have more in common with each other than I previously quite realized. That often talked about Porsche DNA does run, unmistakably, throughout the range.
What keeps their customers coming back? Drive a Cayman, Boxster, 911, Panamera or Cayenne and you know you’re driving a Porsche.
First published in Men's Passion issue #28 February 2011