SINGAPORE – The line, “Porsche is something nobody needs, but everybody wants,” from the promo video to celebrate the occasion pretty much sums it up for us, as Porsche knocks-on its 70th birthday this year.
If you’ve never driven one in anger, you’re unlikely to ‘get it’, because there’s a dynamic single-mindedness to every Porsche – yes, even those utility models – that categorically defies belief.
For those impressed by title records, the fact that the 919 Evo hyper-hybrid racecar just obliterated the Nordschleife record by almost a full minute should bolster the brand’s ‘cred’ and bragging rights at the pub.
For newcomers to the brand, the appeal of Porsche’s prestige plays a big part, although inner circle of purists appreciate the performance traits of its cars, which not just play the part, but can be relied on to do so lap after lap, and then driven home without any fuss or drama.
Dr. Henrik Dreier has been in Singapore with Porsche Asia Pacific for over 14 years, and currently oversees the local market. Some reckon it’s more interesting to pick the mind of someone whose tenure is longer than the average three- to four-year rotation stint, because the insight is peppered with candour rather than cliché.
The two ‘guests’ sharing the limelight represent the brand’s bookends: the 356 started it all (pictured here is a gorgeous Auratium Green 356 Cabriolet), and the Cayenne (here in its latest iteration) saved it.
“Customers in Singapore love the brand very much and are passionate about Porsche. In a way, they’ve fulfilled their dreams and have an intimate relationship with their cars. Some people who won’t let anybody else touch their cars, and they clean it themselves.
To one group of customers, the ownership of the badge is important. However, to another group, the driving experience and the camaraderie from the Porsche Club Singapore (PCS) community best define Porsche ownership. A lot of them are very knowledgeable and I’m happy to have such enthusiastic customers support the brand,” Dr. Dreier shares.
(Photo: Zotiq Visuals)
How ‘supportive’ is supportive?
He tells us, “One activity to usher in Porsche’s 70th was to form a ‘70’ with cars belonging to PCS members at Stuttgart Auto’s new state-of-the-art aftersales facility. The EDM was barely sent out before the slots were oversubscribed! We were worried because the meeting time was 7am on a weekend, and it was raining, but I’m proud to say we accomplished it – everybody showed up on time to support the shoot. It’s great to see a community of like-minded people where everyone knows each other. The entire Porsche range was well-represented, with all colours of new models, sportscars, utility models and even heritage cars. The customers are our best brand ambassadors!”
However, customers and brand principal are just two parts of the equation, because an important factor is also the dealer partner. Of the local Porsche dealer, Stuttgart Auto. Dr. Dreier says,“We do everything together and I’m glad we share the same beliefs. A good business relationship is important in Singapore and if you can build trust on both sides, you can achieve a lot together.”
In a market as complex and as unique as Singapore’s, one can’t hope to be transplanted from another market across the world and expect to be able to hit the ground running with “fix-all” ideas, because of the intricate government machinations to control the vehicle population. How has Henrik learnt to navigate this?
He smiles, “It takes a couple of years to understand a complex market like Singapore. Everything here is different from Europe and regulated – however, I like the concept because it’s largely working and you don’t get the gridlocks you see in the other mega-cities. Although Singapore is forward-pushing and innovative, it is still traditional in many ways. Family is number one and this is embedded in the culture – it is more traditional than Germany, for instance. Singapore’s fusion of tradition and innovation is similar to Porsche’s core brand values, which see innovative technology built-into the latest models that boast Porsche’s instantly recognisable design language.”
The Taycan pushes the envelope of electric performance and we’re told it might arrive in Singapore by 2020. Naturally, there’s concern that such electrified vehicles will detract from the visceral performance Porsches are known for.
Dr. Dreier categorically states, “Every Porsche is a real Porsche and the Taycan is no exception – from the design to how it drives and handles, as well as the fun and excitement you experience when you drive it – you will feel the sportscar DNA. The Taycan will have mind-blowing performance since Porsche applied all the familiar sportscar KPIs.”
We all have our favourite Porsche and Dr. Dreier is no exception. “My top choice is the latest 911 T. It can trace its bloodline back to the original 911 T from decades ago. I don’t need the most powerful model, but the T is a pure driving machine and a back-to-basics 911 with modern technology. I know my choice of PDK (versus the manual) is against the purist’s code, but it’s more convenient in the city and a little faster in terms of performance.”
Photos Penoramic Publishing