Porsche design boss quizzed

Let's get this out there straight away. Porsche's head of design Michael Mauer drives a Panamera and loves it. The fact that it's a Turbo S modified to give even more power than the standard 550hp must help, but then he did design this car.

In fact, he's designed all the range now apart from the Cayman, and the new version of that is expected to be unveiled this week at the LA show. So, the Porsche look is now his. Or, as much as it can be when you're bound by that tradition.

We've spoken to the head of exterior design Matthias Kulla recently about the 911, so now it's time we grilled the boss. Starting with:

"Even more evolutionary". The 911
"Even more evolutionary". The 911
Playing devil's advocate for a second here, why do all Porsches look the same?
We have a more evolutionary design strategy, we believe very strongly in brand identity and every new Porsche should be recognizable as a Porsche at first glance.

And then we differentiate between cars like the 911, which we consider the core of the brand where, yes we are even more evolutionary.

So why is it important for people to say, just by a glance, that's a Porsche?
One reason why people buy the car is because it is a Porsche. They want other people to know as well. And why should we should question our own successful recipe for the last 15 years?

Mauer pushing for the Panamera estate
Mauer pushing for the Panamera estate
Are they conservative then, your buyers?
They have a different attitude when it comes to products. For them it is less important it is just different. I have a feeling in today's society, it is often more important to be different. It is not more important to be better.

It was always a strategy from Porsche to improve things, to develop them, to cultivate certain strong ideas and so the products get this maturity. They are well thought through.

I admit, yes, if people really want something that always looks different for the sake it, then maybe the Porsche brand is not the right address for them.

But Porsche is moving into new niches. What can we expect in the future?
The most exciting thing right now is that we are being asked to develop, together with other departments, our ideas for the future of the brand. What other type of cars could complement Porsche in the future?

2013 Macan: the sports car of its segment
2013 Macan: the sports car of its segment
How many cars have you been asked to come up with?
A lot of cars.

Can you talk about them? There are rumours of a mid-engined supercar between 911 and the new 918.
We exploring a lot of different possibilities for the future. This [the mid-engined car] is one of these ideas for the Porsche brand, but there are a lot of other ideas and the CEO will have to take the decision because you can't do everything at once.

We liked the Sport Turismo shooting brake concept. Could this form part of the next Panamera range?
Personally I would like it to do it. Hopefully the success of this concept car will support this idea.

I believe it perfectly complements the Porsche brand that stands for combining sportiness and performance with functionality. I think this type of car is the essence of this vision. Personally I like it very much because it's a sports car with functionality that I use very much on today's Panamera.

Mauer: the perfect customer for Panamera
Mauer: the perfect customer for Panamera
The Panamera divides opinion. Do you regret the design of this car?
Porsche will always divide opinion. It didn't have a predecessor, and our offer is different to what people are used to. This is always the challenge, people have to get used to new concepts. At the end of the day, I prefer a product that has a lot of character.

The people who buy it are deeply convinced that it is different but very exciting. Sales this year are showing that a lot of people are liking this car.

I consider myself the perfect customer for that car. I love sports cars, I love to drive fast, but I always have to bring things with me, bicycles, skis, whatever. I just fold down the rear seats and it's a racing transporter.

So we can expect the same for the next one?
I don't know. We will start work on the next generation soon and there are lot of possibilities of how this will develop. I promise it won't be a conventional concept, however it will be modified due to the fact that we might have more bodystyles. The Panamera will never be a conventional three-box saloon.

Next year's Macan will be Porsche's second SUV. How do you reconcile Porsche's sports car roots with tall cars like this?
The tagline is that we offer in each and every segment the sports car. Which doesn't mean that each and every car is a 911 or a sports car, but in each segment we offer the most sporty version.

I think as soon as you see the Macan, you will understand it's typically representative of this segment, but the proportions and design language immediately visualizes this as the sports car in this segment.

550 Spyder. One of Mauer's icons
550 Spyder. One of Mauer's icons
What Porsches do you keep coming back to from the heritage collection?
I have to say... all the cars. Whenever I walk though the museum I'm always very much impressed by the variety and the amount of ideas, and the different solutions. I always discover something new.

Cars like the 550 Spyder, the 917 race cars, the 904, the 928, these are, apart from the 911, these are my icons within Porsche. But it's like asking parents who is the child you like the most. You like them all.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (94) Join the discussion on the forum

  • I Rock 29 Nov 2012

    I'd buy a new one if they'd just stop messing with the shape !

  • RichardR 29 Nov 2012

    dandarez said:
    When you quizzed these questions, did you correctly pronounce 'Porsha' or did you simply say 'Porsh'?

    More to the point how did he respond with his pronunciation of the marque?
    It's just a case of standard German pronunciation. Words ending in 'e' are said with an 'er' at the end, for example 'bitte' and 'danke'. nerd

  • OlberJ 28 Nov 2012

    Cayenne is Porsche's biggest seller.

  • BlackPrince 28 Nov 2012

    ZesPak said:
    Porsche is a company.

    Companies want/need to make money.

    The Cayenne makes shedloads.

    Hence the Cayenne has a need as well as a purpose. Maybe the GT2 doesn't though...
    And the development money from the profits of the Cayenne and Panamera will presumably go towards keeping Porsche solvent and developing GT2s and 3s so its good for PHers.

    But...just because a company CAN make something that sells doesn't mean it should. Ferrari could have made 1000s of Enzos if it wanted to and sold them at the same price but it didn't because it believes in exclusivity. Lamborghini could sell the same branded-tat as Ferrari and Im sure they'd make money but they dont.

  • ZesPak 28 Nov 2012

    jamieduff1981 said:
    A Porsche doesn't really appeal to me as a car, but I do like and value the fact that all Porsches can be instantly recognised as Porsches (Cayenne aside - I don't think they have a need or purpose to be in that market segment).
    Porsche is a company.

    Companies want/need to make money.

    The Cayenne makes shedloads.

    Hence the Cayenne has a need as well as a purpose. Maybe the GT2 doesn't though...

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