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    Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    I just got back from a Porsche sponsored research study regarding design of their 4 door sedan/cross-over vehicle. I can say this... it isn't pretty...

    It reminded me of something you would get if you mixed a station wagon with a coupe. In other words it wasn't sexy nor was it elegant. One of the cars that they wanted us to compare it against was the upcoming Mercedes CLS. Unlike the elegant CLS, the Porsche looked much like the M3 coupe (Z3 style). I always thought that the BMW was one of the ugliest things ever built, along with the Lexus IS coupe. Now Porsche seems to be leaning in that direction.

    For Porsche's sake they are better off designing a sedan that looks like the photoshopped picture that someone had posted recently. In other words they need to either go elegant or sporty but not a mixture of both. IMO Ferrari has done the best job of a sporty GT with Aston Martin following closely behind. My preference though is that they get their act together and increase HP and decrease weight in their current line-up of 911s, because there is just too much competition out there now.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    If it looks anything like the BMW coupe it would be a complete disaster.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    The Cayenne is a design desaster too in my eyes and...I bought one. But I only bought it because it really is a technical masterpiece and has lots of power.
    Maybe this is Porsche's new strategy regarding their non-sports cars? A certain ugliness or a certain simplicity of the design to attract more buyers. I know this sounds weird but otherwise I can't explain how the Cayenne looks. I really try hard to find the Cayenne looking good but I can't. I can't get used to the 911 front and I can't get used to the boring butt.
    I like the interior though.

    The problem is that Porsche doesn't understand that they DO NOT have to implement the 911 design in each and every car they build. The Carrera GT doesn't look at all like a 911 and it is a stunning piece of a sports car. I really don't understand why Porsche doesn't have more self confidence to risk a completely new design, of course based on the current Porsche design and with Porsche style elements. If the 4-door sedan gets a 911 front and a 911 rear, it will look like a mess.

    Porsche made a lot of money lately, they should start to "grow up", to increase self confidence but they should also understand that customers won't accept ANY crap with the name Porsche on it. If I were them, I wouldn't put too much faith in the future success of the Cayenne. I really had to convince myself to buy the Cayenne Turbo and I'm a confessing hardcore Porsche junkie. Time will tell but a 4-door sedan looking like a stretched 911 would be a disaster.

    Road & Track

    ...has another pic of a concept? with the front engine 928 design...

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    I too was never infatuated with the design of the Cayenne but I still bought one as well. My reason for buying it was more business related...
    Since buying it though it has really grown on me and I find that many people really love it or hate it. My girlfriend happens to love it so I guess I'm okay!

    I agree with you that Porsche needs to step out and start from a clean slate when designing a car that has never seen the light of day. In other words, if the public has no expectations then they can built whatever they would like! Not something that looks like a station wagon. As CF stated... it would be a complete disaster!

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Quote:
    Not something that looks like a station wagon. As CF stated... it would be a complete disaster!



    Not necessarily. The Cayenne is ugly, but far from a complete disaster as a car or for the company, although, as RC said, time will tell. It really is hard to predict what the driving public will like.

    It seems to me that design at Porsche (and please correct me if I'm wrong in this, I'm not a Porsche historian) has always been secondary to functionality. With the early Gmund cars, the body was simply a very basic wrap for the chassis and engine. As 356s followed that form and tightened up the body a little, all they did was continue that simple functional statement. At the time, I don't think most people thought they were beautiful. As a boy, I liked 356's because they were funny looking. Inverted bath tubs. They were homely, like a pound puppy or the bent little Christmas tree you dragged home because it was trying so hard to be likeable. The early Porsches were functional little guys who took on the bigger guys and beat them, and we loved them for that. Over time, the shape of the 356 has become an icon and we now find it beautiful because of its simplicity and functionality. It has a shape that will never lose its beauty in our eyes because it is so 'true.'

    The design of the 911 was, largely, simply a process of following that function and updating the lines a little. When it first appeared, I'm not sure it was thought of as being so very beautiful. I think some people thought it as a little to sanitary, almost plain, compared to the rounded 356. But, like the 356, it was simple and functional enough to last longer than anyone ever thought possible. The design is so functional true that it's hard to imagine that there would ever be a reason to go away from the 911 shape in a sports GT format. And, again, that simplicity, functionality and clarity of form is what we love. It's become an icon that's attractive in a very deep way for those who get it.

    Racing design at Porsche always followed the same path, I believe. Certainly, the early 60's Formula 1 Porsche was an exercise in homeliness and the 550, though we love it now, was a design driven largely by the function. The racing prototypes that came along in the 70's and 80's were not always beautiful, but they often were because of the design demands of aerodynamics.

    I believe I'm right in saying that the first "designed" Porsche body style was the 928. (The 924/944 shape actually grew out of a design contract for VW that VW later abandoned, essentially an exercise in using existing parts to create a modern VW/NSU sports car. When VW shut the project down in favor of the Golf, a number of business reasons compelled Porsche to turn the project into a second Porsche line.) The 928 grew internally, generally in response to complaints about the 911 and the belief that U.S. laws would legislate the 911 out of existence. And even with the 928, according to Tony Lapine, who led the design teams, design had to be subordinate to engineering. In fact, the only real "design" driven aspect of the car was Lapine's idea to pull, from 356 heritage, the concept of body colored bumpers. And even this then became a major engineering function, as it developed into an exercise in collapsible front and rear ends to absorb accident damage.

    I happen to think the 928 is a gorgeous car but, when it appeared, it wasn't universally accepted as such. Many people though it was a strange, odd-looking car. And next to a 911, it suddenly made people fall in love with the 911 shape all over again, for it's simple clarity of line. The 928 lasted nearly 20 years, a good long life for a car model, but, in the end, for all its charms, when most drivers looked at a 928 and a 911 side by side, they realized they'd rather have the 911.

    The next "design" Porsche body style was the Boxster and, again, it was driven by function, by the options one could adopt for a mid-engined roadster. I wasn't in the room, but I can't imagine anyone drew the car on a napkin and said, "Hey, let's build a retro tribute to the 550!" No, they looked at the ways one could wrap a mid-engine chassis and keep true to Porsche heritage and the Boxster was the result. To my eye, a very successful result that's hard not to like (unless you're Fanch ). I mean, who wouldn't, if you could afford it, like to have a Boxster S in the garage next to your 911, for those lovely, sunny springtime days? And, it now seems hard to imagine a Porsche future without a continuation of the Boxster line.

    Which brings us to the Cayenne: at first glance, a stupid car with a stupid name. And "butt ugly," as most of us agree. But here's what the Cayenne says to me: "I'm here to get the job done, on road or off road, and I don't really care if you think I'm pretty or not." Writing that sentence, I find myself, for the first time, falling in love with the Cayenne. How do you not like that attitude?

    If anyone needed proof that Porsche could design a car of surpassing beauty, there is the Carrera GT. Of course, it's driven by an overriding design and engineering challenge: to create an object that can travel at speeds in excess of 200 mph without becoming airborne. And that uncompromising functionality, in common with the design of fast-swimming fish or fast-flying birds, usually ends in beauty. What interests me about the CGT is that, instead of stripping a street car for racing or detuning and soundproofing a race car for the street, the CGT started with the heart and bones of a prototype racer and went straight to a unique finished product. It's a prototype racer in an Armani suit, appearing to be equally comfortable at rest or at speed.

    This would be a good time for me to come out of the closet and identify myself as someone who thinks the BMW M Coupe is just freakin' beautiful. I just love that car; it reminds me of the Abarth Carreras. God knows what the functionality of that little hatchback is but if I could fit into one without having to bend my head over on my shoulder, I'd own one (and I'd get it cheap, since no one else wants it!) As it is, I, like the Cayenne, am also big and butt-ugly -- a form of questionable function -- but, like the Cayenne, I too am here to get the job done and when there's a performance challenge, bring it on. (I'm just starting to realize how much affinity I have with this bump-humper!)

    Which is all a very long way of getting to the central question of this thread, which is: what SHOULD a Porsche sedan look like? To which, the Porsche answer, historically, should be: what is the function of a four door, four place sedan?

    The British used to have (and perhaps still use) a term for a class of car called a "saloon car," essentially a fast, touring sedan aimed at the upper classes. Webster's defines "saloon" as follows: "a spacious and elegant apartment for the reception of company or for works of art." This expresses, very well I think, the kind of car I would like to have to drive two or three business associates from Austin to Dallas, from Geneva to Milan, or from New York to Boston in about the same time it would take to fly commercially (we'll assume that private jets are only for people who can also afford CGTs). It would be a place for civil conversation or listening to music at the highest practical speeds; a place of comfort; as environment one could enjoy, as defined above, as a work of art. And, for it to be a Porsche, it would have to have precision handling and high-speed performance; able to break later and corner faster than others in its class, and competitively fast without having to have the highest horsepower.

    Given this fairly simple-to-state function, it should not be too hard to end up with an uncompromised car design that is not only true to Porsche heritage but also beautiful. The best example I've seen was the one posted here recently, an elegant, photoshopped design study that cleverly took the perimeter elements of a Carrera GT and wrapped them around the cabin of the Maserati Quattroporte. It was so delicious, so fast looking and so true to Porsche that, were my initials "WW," I would be full speed ahead on making it so. It is the kind of design that makes you slap your forehead and think, "Obviously! Why didn't they think of this before?" It's the kind of true design that suddenly makes the idea of a Porsche sedan seem totally sensible and inevitable.

    Which is why SoCalHoosier's focus group experience is so surprising. What would be the point of an ugly, station wagon-looking Porsche sedan when we already have an ugly station wagon called the Cayenne? And, presuming the sedan/wagon can't carry as much and can't go off-road - and is ugly to boot - why would anyone prefer it to a Cayenne?

    In short, what's its FUNCTION?

    Beats me! I may be as big and ugly as a Cayenne but I always wanted to be fast and nimble and, when I'm behind the wheel of a 911, I am. And for now, that's where I'll stay.

    Dain

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    be happy, that the cayenne, came, when it came, but without cayenne, porsche would not earn so much at the moment!!!!!!!!!!

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    To my eye, a very successful result that's hard not to like (unless you're Fanch ).

    what do you mean? I love the Boxster! I use to have a Boxster S and it was fantastic!!!

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Gosh Dain, who pulled your chain?

    No, seriously, a very nicely written piece. One might even get the idea you do this for a living. And, I agree with you on everything except the M Coupe and Fanch, who really does like Boxsters I believe.

    On your theme of functional design, it seems to me that prior to the 996, the 911 series had a very functional, all business look. Starting with the 996 there was a stylistic element introduced that had not been there before, on both the interior and exterior. The design is very pleasing but I miss the completely functional, sometimes awkward look of the older designs.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Honestly I think a lot of us are holding too high of expectations, nothing matters more than how a car performs.

    Not only that but it's a proven fact that most customers don't like radical change in design of product, they like a careful and slowly thought out evolution of current designs(case in point is the new VW Golf). So it is no wonder that you guys appear to be so disapointed with what Porsche and BMW are doing with their new designs. People don't generally warm up what they aren't use to. They spend a lot of time staring in disgust at whatever may be this "new" thing, and only after a period of time does this new thing become accepted.

    Now the Cayenne may not be so pretty to many of us, but since so many of us are bent on bashing it non stop(my ears are serioulsy ringing now) why don't you go out and design it yourself? Can you do a better job??? I guarantee you if the Cayenne looked different than it does now all of you would still be here babbaling on about how much you dislike it. So it wouldn't really make a difference. The Cayenne is selling well all over, and as far as things are looking now I would say it is here to stay.

    As far as a Porsche four door goes, they can do it. And you may not like it, guess what that means?? Yeah, you guessed it, IT'S NOT THE CAR FOR YOU. It being a four door Porsche sedan alone will make it quite sucessful. I am sure. Don't WORRY about the design, the car isn't suppose to be here for another 3.5 years.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    We all have an idea of what an SUV is supposed to look like. The Cayenne looks like an SUV, regardless of its design appeal. Therefore Porsche introduced a vehicle that fit the needs of many of today's buyers.

    The problem is that the 3 designs at the event were essentially the shape of an elongated 911. The rear therefore ended with a bulbous backside giving it a station wagon-like look. Many others that I could overhear at the event also thought it resembled a station wagon. By far the most appealing car was the Mercedes CLS.

    Now how many of you can actually say that you need a station wagon?I'm sure the ones that answer yes would be more than happy to take an SUV instead.

    The other concern was the power numbers that kept reappearing on all the questionnaires... 300 HP, 340 HP, 380 HP and a 500 HP Biturbo.
    I am pretty convinced now that the forthcoming 997 will be outfitted with only 340 HP.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Quote:
    GM Austin said:
    Gosh Dain, who pulled your chain? One might even get the idea you do this for a living.



    Guilty. Got my start back in the '80s helping Don Runkle at Chevy/Pontiac define the strategic definition of the brands. Nowadays, do that for a lot of companies, but don't do much automotive, except for fun.

    Quote:
    On your theme of functional design, it seems to me that prior to the 996, the 911 series had a very functional, all business look.



    GM, I think that's an interesting observation, that had not occurred to me. I too, when I first saw it, felt the 996 design lost its edge somehow although now I like it very much. And I would say that perhaps that "stylistic element" contributed to some of the mixed feelings people express about the 996, except that it's the most successful 911 model ever (is that right? Sales have surpassed mid-80s levels now, I think). People like it.

    When I saw the 964, I thought it was the best integrated 911 ever. Until I saw the 993. Against those two, the 996 seemed somewhat undefined. Maybe it's the slight awkwardness you mention. Hopefully, the 997 will get it right again.

    Dain

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Quote:
    Fanch said:
    To my eye, a very successful result that's hard not to like (unless you're Fanch ).

    what do you mean? I love the Boxster! I use to have a Boxster S and it was fantastic!!!



    Fanch, didn't you write a long post from Courcheval deriding Boxsters? I got it wrong and stand corrected.

    I'll put you down for a Boxster S. Me, too.

    Dain

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Quote:
    AMGeater said:
    it's a proven fact that most customers don't like radical change in design of product, they like a careful and slowly thought out evolution of current designs(case in point is the new VW Golf). So it is no wonder that you guys appear to be so disapointed with what Porsche and BMW are doing with their new designs. People don't generally warm up what they aren't use to. They spend a lot of time staring in disgust at whatever may be this "new" thing, and only after a period of time does this new thing become accepted.



    That's an excellent point, AMG. There's a law of design that great, long lasting designs are usually not instantly appreciated, a thought that occurred to me when I first saw the new BMW 745. Just like when Tchaikovsky's First Violin Concerto was first performed, the audience started throwing chairs they hated it so much.

    And we may all, as the Cayenne endures, find ourselves loving it. As I pointed out, the 356 and 911 body styles weren't universally thought of "beautiful" when first released.

    That's why I'm hopeful that even the BMW M Coupe may someday start to look like good design.

    And, in the end, I'm with you: it's what happens behind the wheel that matters.

    Dain

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    NO, the post I wrote from the Courchevel was regarding the Cayenne which, like RC, I think is a great car but thouroughly ugly!
    Honestly, I love the Boxster and I think it is arguably more fun to drive than the 911. IMHO of course.
    Take care dude!

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Quote:
    SoCalHoosier said:
    The problem is that the 3 designs at the event were essentially the shape of an elongated 911. The rear therefore ended with a bulbous backside giving it a station wagon-like look. Many others that I could overhear at the event also thought it resembled a station wagon. By far the most appealing car was the Mercedes CLS.



    What an interesting event to get invited to! How did they present the three designs? Computerized graphics? Models? Renderings?

    They've been talking about a 4 door Porsche for as long as I can remember (mid-60s, anyway). Whether or not we like the results, it will be interesting to see it happen.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    D'oh! Just looked at your avatar. I should have been more observant.

    Memo to self: Shut up and drive!

    Dain

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Did this design look anything like the 989? I think it was quite elegant.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    I think so. You can't see the headlight assembly, but I believe it was a concept later found in the 996, along with different tail lights.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    I'm sorry that I wasn't very clear with my question ...

    I meant to ask if Porsche's new four-door design, which SoCal saw, is anything like the old 989 design. The picture I posted is an old spy photo of the 989, which basically looked like a stretched-out 911, but it still looked very nice, in my opinion. If Porsche resurrects this concept, and updates it with new lights, etc., I think it will be quite successful.

    Thanks.

    --Gavin.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    The rear half of the car is the main problem right now. The old sketch that you have is a better design than the one we were exposed to. Instead of the car ending with a similar 911 taper it is more bulbous and therefore reminded me of a stretched out AMG Pacer.

    The approach Porsche should be after is one that creates the look of a sedan as opposed to another utility vehicle. The best look I've seen so far is this photoshopped car...(too bad it wasn't part of the study)

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    I can't say I like 100% how this photoshop picture looks but it would be a good start for a 4-door sedan. Honestly.
    I hope Porsche looks at this picture. It might have too much from a Ferrari but anyway, it would be a good start.

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    this pic reminds me of the brilliant new Quattroporte--


    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    hehehe cool car! when its out I'm sure my dad will get one hehehe... he likes Porsche but he hates sports car... (unlike his son -_-)

    Re: Porsche 4-Door Design Study

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but how the heck can you love Porsche and hate sports cars at the same time?

     
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