Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Let's ponder, for a moment, the question of the most mundane vehicle types. Surely at the top of the list is the utility vehicles such as vans and pickups, and as a combination of those two, the SUV surely isn't far behind (how it's become fashionable, albeit temporarily, I have no idea). But following close behind is the four-door sedan. For the most part, sedans inspire little but a series of yawns.

So Porsche, having already built an SUV, must have been faced with a difficult choice for the next vehicle to tackle in their attempt to undo five decades of sports-car excellence (the sort of which had P.J. O'Rourke referring to the 911 as a "Nazi slot car"). With the Cayenne SUV already doing its best to tank the reputation of Porsche, it might have seen straightforward to do a pickup truck. But never assume that the German car guys will do things the easy way, and thus the decision was made to do a four-door.

The first question, of course, is what the hell is a "Panamera"? That's quite a terrible name. But moving past that, I think the real questions surround the true market for a four-door that's going to sell for $100,000 and up, the damage that's going to be done to Porsche's name by building a four-door (I thought it was bad enough that Ferrari did another four-seater), and the ramifications by doing yet another water-cooled front-engine vehicle.

Face it - dilute the brand image enough, and the 911 becomes an overpriced novelty compared to the new Vette, and the Boxster seems like a poseur's S2000.

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