Porsche unseen showcase
No one colours inside the lines better than Porsche, right? More than five decades of carefully massaged 911s taught us that. The epitome of evolution over revolution, few carmakers have been as traditionally riskaverse. Sure, we saw the occasional concept cars: the bonkers Panamericana and beautiful Boxster, and low volume supercars: 959 and Carrera GT. But when it came to expanding the model lineup, cars such as the 914, 924, 944 and 928 failed to gain similar generational momentum. As a result, we used to joke that a designer at Porsche had the easiest job in the world. Every five years or so they’d go into the Weissach studio, tweak the 911’s iconic lines – add an inch to both wheelbase and wheel size, increase windscreen angle one degree, change the headand taillight jewellery – and then hit the “send to factory” button. That’s a gross oversimplification, of course, but it’s precisely the disciplined, evolutionary approach that has worked so well for the 911.
Yet, in a fastchanging world, Porsche would not have survived on 911 alone. Everything changed with the 1996/’97 launch of the Boxster/Cayman and the stereotypebusting Cayenne in 2002. That process accelerated two years later with the arrival of Michael Mauer as design chief. Not only has he overseen the design of two generations of 911 and a new Cayenne, but the Panamera was added on his watch – a car which finally answered the question of what a fourdoor Porsche could be – and the ridiculously desirable 918 Spyder. Most recently, the Macan and Taycan have played significant roles in beefing up both profits and product portfolio even further. You could easily forgive Mauer and his team were they to rest on their laurels given how much they’ve been painting outside the traditional Porsche lines of late. However, an invitation to experience the unseen at Porsche revealed exactly the opposite. These guys have been busier than sugaredup kids on a permanent weekend playdate.
Vision Renndienst, for the fastest service in town
Where is it that their minds have been drifting? How about a Porsche space concept? You’re thinking minivan, but this is no bus. It’s called the Vision Renndienst (race service) and it features dramatically flared arches, a central driving position, all-electric drive and still seats six. Mauer points to the headlights as a future development of the brand’s current signature, appearing soon on the next electric Porsche. Or perhaps you’d prefer a pared-back mid-engined speedster fit for James Dean’s spiritual grandchildren? The Vision Spyder aka 551 “Little Rebel” – sensibly, “Bastard” didn’t make the cut – riffs very strongly off the 1954 Carrera Panamericana class-winning 550 1500 RS Spyder. Surely this needs to be built?
Two-door Macan in Safari spec
Sticking with the heritage theme is a 904 GTS-inspired redesign of Volkswagen’s fuel-sipping XL1, along with two living legends. The 917 we’ve seen before but back in 2006, they developed a 906-inspired super sportscar that helped inform the 918’s layered bodywork and the Taycan’s floating headlights. Groovy everywhere but it’s the vertical taillight fins set into gloriously curvaceous haunches that really dance with your senses. Intriguing in Pigeon Blue is the Vision 916 which looked to answer the question of how minimalist a Porsche could be in today’s world. Nailed it.
Vision Spyder aka “Little Rebel”
Turning the clocks way forward is a super sportscar, badged 920, that magically blends LMP1 aero with Porsche road car DNA and makes the 918 look a bit tame. Yes, please!
Probably the least surprising project is a customer version of the Le Mans-winning hybrid racer. It would’ve been a commercial no-brainer but for the team of engineers required to oversee the 30-minute start-up procedure. A more future-proof privateer option is a single-seater track car called Vision E that wraps Porsche’s 800-volt Formula E drivetrain in radical full-canopied bodywork; less complex but no less desirable.
A Le Mans-winning hybrid racecar for the road
Among several spin-offs, Porsche revealed a two-door Macan in bigtyred Safari spec. With increased ground clearance, full roll cage, butch wheelarch extensions and Fuchs-style rims, it’s ready for a real Paris–Dakar off-road trip.
It’s important to note Mauer insists none of these studies started out as potential additions to the product portfolio. These concepts are not rejected proposals but rather winning design study ideas, having made their way far beyond the initial sketch stage via 3D modelling through to 1:1 scale hard models. They exist to keep the design language fresh and provide ready-made design elements for forthcoming production cars. Baltic cool, palpably desirable and loaded with heritage-respecting futurism, they are evidence of a design department in rude health.
Porcshe`s 904 GTS-inspired redesign of the VW XL1
Michael Mauer, officially only the third design head in the company’s storied history, has been at the helm for 16 years. You could probably put money on him retiring there, too … such is the importance of continuity at Porsche. It shows up in the engineering integrity and visual congruity of its production cars. By giving licence to its design team, creativity is spilling into delightfully unusual places and is sure to produce a few interesting showroom surprises.
Quite masterfully, Mauer’s oversight is adding revolution to the evolution, broadening the design palette and enriching the Porsche legacy. Consider our perceptions recalibrated.
Vission E: Formula E future-proofed