By Clayton Moore
Call it a match made in heaven—at high velocity. The marquee sponsor of this year’s Business Aircraft & Jet Previews is none other than Porsche, the legendary manufacturer of performance automobiles.
The car company will be bringing a full lineup of its 2008 models to all 10 of the hotly anticipated Porsche Business Aircraft & Jet Previews. Guests will see the most modern business aircraft available on the market and have the opportunity to test drive the very latest high-performance automobiles from the German manufacturer.
The meeting of minds allows both Porsche and Airport Journals to offer aircraft owners, pilots, CEOs and their families a unique opportunity to indulge their focused interests in high-end, high-performance vehicles.
“We’re very excited to be teamed up with Porsche for the Business Aircraft and Jet Previews,” said Justin Lips, national advertising manager for Airport Journals. “When we laid down the demographics of the aircraft owners, business jet users and pilots alongside the demographic profiles of Porsche owners, it was an amazing match. Many aircraft owners and pilots have a love for Porsches, and their sponsorship brings one of the most recognizable names in luxury, class and performance to our Jet Previews.”
While Porsche has achieved record sales for three consecutive years, the company does find that making a personal connection with people at events like the Jet Previews makes a significant difference in sales results.
“Our customers tend to be at the upper end of the demographic scale, and they’re very busy people,” said David Pryor, Porsche’s vice president of marketing. “It’s increasingly difficult to connect with these individuals. We’re always looking for new ways to make contact. Given the quality of the visitors and their interests, partnering with Airport Journals’ Jet Previews makes perfect sense to us.”
Porsche spokesman Tony Fouladpour said that putting someone behind the wheel of a Porsche is the best way to impress a potential customer.
“You have to drive a Porsche to appreciate its nuances,” he said. “We don’t hype these cars on television every five seconds like other manufacturers. We feel it’s important for us to get people driving the car, so they can experience it for themselves.”
Pryor agreed, putting himself in the mindset of the thousands of pilots who attend the Jet Previews annually.
“Once you take control of one of these automobiles, it’s a real rush of adrenaline, just like what pilots get from aircraft,” Pryor said. “You get a lot of pleasure driving a Porsche.”
Porsche’s lineup will include the very latest high-performance automobiles from the German manufacturer, including the 911, Boxter, Cayman and the Cayenne, its revolutionary sports utility vehicle. Pryor, who has been with Porsche for nearly 10 years, has seen extraordinary changes in the company’s lineup of vehicles over the years, but he feels that this year’s models are among its best.
“It’s been an amazing period of growth in Porsche’s history,” he recalled. “When I joined the company, we were a sports car company, very focused on the 911. The Boxter had come out and was doing exceptionally well, but we had no idea how long it would last in the market. Here we are, a decade later, and we’ve grown the business dramatically. The Boxter is still receiving awards from the automotive press. We’ve now introduced the Cayenne, which extends the brand well beyond the sports car market. We’ve also announced the Porsche Panamera, a four-door sedan that will be available in 2009. All these milestones have changed the company, driving us to even higher highs.”
The Next Generation SUV
The Porsche name has been synonymous with sports cars and race cars since Ferdinand Porsche (the Volkswagen Beetle’s designer) and son Ferry founded Porsche AG in 1948. Most famous for the rear-engine 911 introduced in 1964, the company has since capitalized on its enormous momentum, expanding the brand during the past decade to include new versions of the 911 coupe and Boxter roadster, and even branching out into new vehicle categories.
Perhaps the most innovative vehicle in Porsche’s considerable portfolio is not one of its sleek roadsters, but the powerful, newly improved Cayenne. The vehicle’s second-generation model was unveiled to the public for the first time at Detroit’s North American Auto Show in January.
The midsize luxury SUV’s 2008 version has been markedly improved. Not only has the vehicle been outfitted with distinctive aesthetic changes that give it a more muscular, aggressive shape, but the Cayenne has also been enhanced where it counts: under the hood.
“The most significant changes to the second-generation Porsche Cayenne are in the engines,” explained Fouladpour. “These direct injection gasoline engines are more efficient, but at the same time more powerful. You’re getting more power out of the engine, but the same mileage as the original Cayenne. In the top-of-the-line turbo, we’re talking propulsion from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds.”
In the Cayenne Turbo, a twin-turbocharged 4.8 liter V8 pumps out 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, all flowing through a six-speed Tiptronic S transmission. The top speed recorded on Porsche’s test tracks is a fleet 171 mph, a significant boost in power for a vehicle that still maintains a fuel economy of 13 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.
Porsche invested significant effort in improvements, which incorporated suggestions from research and development engineers and testing professionals all the way to manufacturing and assembling personnel in Porsche’s European facilities. While many models are vastly transformed in update processes, the precise improvements to Porsche’s Cayenne make it less an overhaul and more of an evolution.
“The challenge with the new Cayenne is to show that this vehicle has advanced in a really meaningful way,” Fouladpour said. “You’re not going to be blown away, thinking that it’s a completely different vehicle. It’s an outgrowth of the previous Cayenne, which we think is still a good-looking automobile. Yet, now it looks updated and more aerodynamic, and that give it a more centered, aggressive look. When you view the car from the outside, it looks a little more ‘hunkered down,’ now like a truly sporty SUV.”
Some of those aesthetic improvements are rooted in the front end’s newly swept-back configuration. The headlights have been moved farther out and are now covered with clear glass, changing the face of the vehicle. Other tweaks include a more aerodynamic roof spoiler, newly sculpted wheel openings and new exterior mirrors.
The design is a natural development of Porsche’s commitment to crafting eye-catching vehicles, but aircraft owners and pilots may find the vehicle’s sweet spot is in its performance. Like its high-performance sports cars, the company’s Cayenne has been designed to provide drivers with robust handling and high-speed maneuvering capabilities.
“We like to say that the Porsche Cayenne is a sports utility vehicle that was fathered by a sports car,” Fouladpour said. “You have the benefit of a utility vehicle but with the sportiness and performance that you would expect in any of our sports cars. I’m sure that people who fly aircraft want to be confident in the performance, precision handling and braking of a vehicle. They’ll find that here.”
The second-generation Cayenne can be equipped with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, which includes active anti-roll bars that almost completely offset body roll in turns, improving handling, comfort and safety on road. It also provides enhanced traction during off-road adventures. This chassis system is electronically configured to actively compensate for different turning aspects during high-speed driving and complicated maneuvering.
Other safety measures include Porsche stability management, which pre-loads the braking system when needed, and enhanced off-road anti-lock brakes. The Cayenne also comes with six standard airbags and a rollover sensor designed to trigger the safety belt tensioners and curtain airbags in case of an accident.
Inside, drivers will find a straightforward instrument panel that’s well-removed from the hollow gadgetry array found in some other modern SUVs.
“The car is designed for the driver, not simply for aesthetics,” Fouladpour said. “Drivers will find, in all of our cars, and especially in the Cayenne, that form follows function. While the car is attractive by design, it’s specifically designed so that the ‘pilot’ has as much information as possible, and it can be easily found. You’re not going to find a lot of gizmos and digital readouts. You’re going to find traditional, well-placed gauges and instrumentation that give the driver the essential information needed to operate the vehicle.”
While the Cayenne has proven its mettle, the community of enthusiastic Porsche owners was worried at first. The success of the popular SUV has largely mitigated their concerns.
“Some detractors thought an SUV might dilute the power of the Porsche brand, which is known for high-performance sports cars,” Fouladpour remembered. “What we’ve actually seen is that the combination of the two lines has increased interest, not just in the Cayenne but in the brand overall. This car performs unlike any other SUV, and that draws attention to our whole line of vehicles.”
Now that the Cayenne is ready for its first public close-ups, Porsche is enthusiastic about showing off the vehicle’s enhancements and augmentations to automotive enthusiasts.
“The challenge for us is to show the importance of the Porsche Cayenne’s evolution,” Fouladpour explained. “We’ve made changes with real purpose. It’s important for us to communicate with more than a brochure or 30-second television advertisement. We use a more personal approach. Sponsoring the Jet Previews will give us the opportunity to talk to a very educated audience. They’re people who can appreciate the science and technology inherent in the Porsche Cayenne.”
Porsche on the tarmac
At the 2007 Porsche Business Aircraft & Jet Previews, visitors will be able to view the latest airplanes from the world’s greatest aircraft companies. Confirmed displays include Embraer’s all-new Legacy, Raytheon’s Premier 1A, the sexy Avanti from Piaggio and the sleek carbon composite Adam A500 and A700, as well as the latest offerings from legendary companies like Cessna, Cirrus, Piper, Bombardier, Pilatus, Socata and Gulfstream. Diamond, Eclipse and other exhibitors will bring daring new jets. The events are scheduled coast-to-coast from March through November, and include stops at Van Nuys Airport, California; Centennial Airport, Colorado; Dallas Love Field; and the growing Boca Raton Airport in Florida.
At each location, regional Porsche dealers will be bringing out the hottest 2008 cars, lending a local presence to these national events.
“Sexy cars, today’s best in aircraft and great food—I’d say that makes for some of the most exciting events of the year,” said Lips.
The dramatic encounter between cutting-edge aircraft and Porsche’s performance automobiles should make for an interesting year for pilots and aviation enthusiasts across America. Joe Clark, CEO of Aviation Partners Boeing, said he’s excited by the prospect of getting behind the wheel of the Cayenne.
“It’s beyond lifestyle,” he said. “Passion and performance go together, just like pilots and Porsche.”
For more information about the Porsche Business Aircraft & Jet Previews, visit [http://www.jetpreview.com]. For more information about Porsche’s 2008 models, visit [http://www.porsche.com].