No sooner had the ribbon been snipped to signify the opening of the new Porsche Centre located at Seberang Prai, Penang, the third facility of its kind in Malaysia, the global press release from Porsche AG announcing 2016 as the most successful year ever in the history of the company slipped into our e-mailboxes.
It’s probably not a surprise that Porsche sold more cars around the world in 2016 than 2015 (a 6% increment from 237,778 units to 225,121 units), it is a golden era for the brand after all. What’s more impressive is that the operating profit also rose from 15.8% to a staggering 17.4%, a margin that easily eclipses the 10% mark other German premium brands typically hovers at.
Closer to home, the expansion of coverage in the northern region allows Sime Darby Auto Performance (SDAP) to target an increase of 5% in sales performance over last year’s 430-unit achievement in Malaysia. Additionally, the wholly SDAP-owned Porsche Centre Penang – a 35,575-sq. ft. 3S facility built on a 102,524-sq. ft. piece of land – will also serve as an after sales hub for Porsche owners residing within the northern states with its nine service bays and spare parts warehouse, replete with a luxurious Carrera lounge with premium amenities. In many ways, the impressive Penang facility is a mirror image of the Porsche Centre Sungai Besi in Kuala Lumpur, and we can attest that the gourmet coffee served is top notch stuff.
While the Macan and Cayenne make up for the majority of Porsches sold in Malaysia, the introduction of the new 718 Cayman mid-engine coupe should address the balance somewhat this year. The starting price of the base 718 Cayman (with 7-speed PDK gearbox) is RM530,000 and despite having two fewer cylinders than before, the output of 300hp/380Nm from the turbocharged 2.0-litre flat-four means the 718 easily outpaces its flat-six predecessor with a 5.1-second 0-100km/h capability and 275km/h top speed, and it does so with better fuel efficiency as well.
The same can be said of the 718 Cayman S (starting at RM700,000) for it has an even more potent 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four producing 350hp and 420Nm, enough for it to trouble certain 911s for outright performance, especially when spec-ed with the Sport Chrono Package. Both variants have revised cosmetics front and back so you can easily identify them as 718-generation coupes, with the biggest giveaway on the inside being the 918-style steering wheel and the standard seven-inch Porsche Communication Management touchscreen infotainment system.
In many ways, the switch to turbocharged four-cylinder engines for the new 718 Cayman actually creates a clearer hierarchical separation between it and the 911. For newcomers to sports car from Zuffenhausen, the choice isn’t necessarily as obvious as it would be for hardened enthusiasts who knows what they want. There is a gap in price of course, but not as severe as one would think – a base 911 Carrera begins life at RM870,000 while the new Cayman S starts at RM700,000. And consider this; on paper both the Cayman S and 911 Carrera get to 100km/h from idle in 4.4 seconds and have near identical top speeds.
In a bid to settle the matter, we asked Arnt Bayer, the CEO of Sime Darby Auto Performance:
If a customer is new to Porsche, wants to buy a sports car, should he/she choose the Cayman S or the 911 Carrera?
We normally run a ‘needs analysis’ for each customer to find out what suits him or her. For sure, the 911 has the iconic design and the history of Porsche behind it, for many, it is what a sports car should be. But it would also depend on whether the customer prefers the balance of having an engine at the back or in the middle, and the mid-engine location of the Cayman is technically the ‘right’ place to be.
Of course, if you were to spec out both cars similarly, there should be a price gap of at least RM200,000 between the two cars, but if that somehow fails to break the tie, there is always the test drive to see which one the customer truly prefers.
If you were to choose between the Cayman S or the 911 Carrera, which would you pick personally?
I’ll probably choose the 911.
Don’t forget that the 911 has rear seats. I have a little boy and he can be seated at the back, so my wife can then come along. With the Cayman, I would have to leave my wife at home, and that’s not ideal.