Epitome of refinement

2012-05-12 12:01

There’s a smell of R200 stacked notes in the air. It’s not overpowering, but crisp and clean, subtle and reserved.

It smells like freshly cut orchids, Louis Vuitton handbags, Gucci sunglasses, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and Armani slacks.

Even children tagging along with their parents are dressed in the latest neon Nike high tops and golf T-shirts, fashionable pumps and dresses. Everyone is trendy. High rollers, but grounded. These are the people who drive Porsche cars.

It’s a Saturday morning and the dealership on Witkoppen Road in Fourways, north of Johannesburg, could be mistaken for a mini fiesta.

The only reason I feel like the odd one out is because I know the 911 Carrera Coupe that I’ve been driving and have parked outside, isn’t my own.

But I do a fine job pretending it is. I have to.

The place teems with new and old money. Young black couples putting together a list of their requirements for their new four-door Panamera in the private specification lounge here.

Empty-nesters looking at used Cayman models as a third car over there, and wives and mothers bringing in their Cayenne models to have them serviced.

The huge showroom displays an array of new, pre-owned and vintage cars. The entire place is kitted out in Dobergo furniture imported from Germany.

The Carrera Café coffee shop is the heart of the centre. Customers sit around wooden table tops with classy plastic-backed chairs and soft Porsche-branded seats.

On the tables are round glass bowls with white pebbles and fresh flowers, and the best cappuccinos you’ll find in town.

Right beside the Café is the Porsche Design Driver’s Selection store, where you can find anything from keyrings, model cars, memory sticks, fashionable clothing and luggage, teddy bears and mobile cars for children.

Of course, nothing comes cheap, with the smallest price tag being on a keyring for R190. I like going in there to look at things I will probably never buy.

Even the workshop is the neatest you’ll ever come across. With 650 cars being serviced there monthly, it’s amazing that the area is that spotless.

Driving the latest 911 Carrera Coupe for the past week makes me understand the attitude that comes with the brand. These are the type of people who wait for up to six months for their tailor-made car to be delivered.

Dr Nadav Ravid (29) from Parkview drives a vintage 1970 model 911 Carrera S and he’s totally in love with it.

“It’s the most amazing drive considering it’s 42 years old. Even though it’s vintage, it’s absolutely relevant in terms of modern performance and even parts availability,” he says.

“I’ve only had it for eight months now. It’s a sought-after car because many of its parts were amalgamated for racing purposes. With that comes excitement every single time I drive it. The rawness itself is what classic Porsche is.”

He says it’s an investment he can enjoy.

“I’d rather enjoy the thrill of driving my investment and smell the air-cooled engine under my nose than watch money grow in the bank,” he says.

Matthew Barnes (35) from Randburg also drives a classic 911 and says there are many elements that make the brand so desirable.

“I love the shape of the 911. It’s one of those things you either love or hate. Even after 30 years, these cars are still amazing to drive and very usable,” he says.

“It’s an aspirational car and it’s nice to see the growing number of older black men driving Porsches.”

Porsches have been on our roads since 1952.

In 2008, the largest Porsche dealership in the world was opened in Fourways, Johannesburg. It is located on 18 700 square metres of land and cost about R110 million to construct.

The second- and third-biggest opened in Umhlanga in KwaZulu Natal and in Cape Town, respectively.

Porsche is the epitome of sophistication and all three local branches represent the refinement you see in the latest models.

Porsches are still cars for the more mature boy racer at heart, or successful men and women who want to splurge their cash on good investments.

And this is what Porsche South Africa spokesperson Christo Kruger says about the Porsche owner.

“There’s no black or white, or specific bias against male or female. The customers are a private group of people who want to enjoy the finer things in life without flashing it about,” he says.

“Porsche owners are a sophisticated bunch. They might be driving sports cars, but they’re not speedsters or of an arrogant nature. They have conservative attitudes and they have the perfect complement between head and heart,” says Kruger.

He also says the success of Porsche globally is reflected in the South African market.

“The iconic Porsche 911 gets better and better with each model update. Purchasers look for heritage, myth, quality and substance in brands. Nowhere are these values more clearly defined than in the 911.

“Each model introduction is engineered to be better than the industry benchmark set before,” he says.

“We’ve already sold close to 100 Carrera 911 units for this year. Up until August, we’ll see another 500 more Carreras being brought over,” says Kruger.

According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, Porsche SA sold 693 units in 2010, 1 131 last year and 293 models for the first quarter of 2012.

Of those 293, 88 are Carreras, 140 are Cayennes, 51 Panameras and 14 are Caymans.

» Follow me on Twitter: @SpeedQueen 

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