Dare to dream

Live the life you dream of – Michael Mwai believes that being ambitious is the key to fulfilling your goals. His own aspirations include acquiring a brand new Porsche…

carI am currently in the process of a vehicle change. I aspire for something bigger, faster and more efficient. I believe that ambition helps people to seek the better lives they have always dreamed of. I want a vehicle that will define me and steer me into a bold, brighter future of good living. I am drawn to performance cars with high-end luxury features. Will my next car be swiftly Swedish or an exotic niche marque from the German stable? I will keep my options open as that makes the search more exciting.

This month, let’s explore something with a sporting history and utilitarian future. Kenya has just officially joined the Porsche family. The launch of Africa’s sixth Porsche station and the first in East and Central Africa means the Germans are reaching out to emerging markets despite obvious insecurity. The closest other such dealership happens to be the biggest in the world. It is situated in Johannesburg, South Africa. If you travel the continent you will find others in Ghana, Egypt and Angola. Nigerians are not left out despite the bad state roads in Lagos. They have been buying Porsches like queen cakes.

A coveted brand
What makes Porsche such a global success? I think it is the principle on which it is built. Their stated intention is ‘To impress our customers with a unique purchase experience’. They intend to do this by offering outstanding products that fully satisfy our requirements for an exclusive sports car.

The Porsche Centre in Nairobi has a world-class showroom displaying the entry-level Boxster, four-door Panamera and large Cayenne. The gorgeous-looking Macan is due after its global launch earlier this year. Other models expected are the 911 and the Cayman with the Cayman S and GTS.

I do however have a problem with Porsche’s mission – their best-selling Porsche is not a typical sports car but an SUV. Last year the Cayenne sold about 80,000 units globally while the 911 managed only 30,000. How has this master craftsman of sports cars veered so far off its original course? They now produce more Sports Utility Vehicles than the sports cars that made them famous. So successful is this new strategy that they are even planning a Cayenne Coupe to battle the BMW X6 and X4.

I guess it just makes good business sense. Is this a case of ‘what the consumer demands, the consumer gets’, or does the industry create the need and force it upon the gullible consumer?

What’s new?
Porsche is gunning for the ‘best handling’ small SUV title with its new Macan, hoping to make the Range Rover Evoque, BMW X3 and new Mercedes GLA irrelevant. The Macan looks better than the Cayenne and sounds amazing. The centre console is decked with many buttons but you will be interested in only one: the Sport Plus. Press it and the vehicle is transformed into a lithe animal, ready to pounce.

Another model attempting to grab local market share in previously non-Porsche territory will be the four-door Panamera. This vehicle will attempt to change the mindset of the nouveaux riches who aspire for the S Class, BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ. I think they will struggle in the sector.

How have Porsche managed to stay ahead of the game? In 2013 they spent 1.6 million euros on research and development. In the same year, they introduced the 652kW (887bhp) 918 Spyder. It was the world’s first super sports car with a high-performance plug-in hybrid drive train, combined with a combustion engine and an electric motor on the rear axle and a separate electric motor for the front axle. This enabled the 918 Spyder to achieve an average fuel consumption of about 3 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. These figures make the phrase, ‘Engineered by Porsche’ worth any price.

I am settling for the Macan Turbo. I have ticked all the boxes possible and got a price of R1,805,230. That is if I pick it up from the Johannesburg showroom. The options alone maxed out at R516,000. The standard price is R1,280,000. In Kenya that should work out to between Ksh9,000,000 to Ksh12,500,000 depending on your choice of kit.