All translations for this page: Other translations for this page:

Optically dramatic: Michael Mauer on the Porsche design

A Porsche is a Porsche is a Porsche. This was true even back in 1949, when Porsche presented its Type 356 and Type 356 Coupé to an international audience as an independent automobile brand for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. And this is true today, 70 years later, when Porsche presents the new 911 convertible and the 718 Cayman T and 718 Boxster T models at almost the same time and place. But what makes a Porsche so special, from a purely visual point of view? We asked the chief designer Michael Mauer.

Text: Michael Mauer Photo: Porsche 04.03.2019 2 min

“The Porsche design strategy is based on two pillars. The first is brand identity; the second is product identity. Brand identity means: I can see that it’s a Porsche. Product identity means: I can see which Porsche it is.”

“The three most important things in automobile design are first of all, the proportions; secondly, the proportions; and thirdly, the proportions. A Porsche always has the proportions of a sports car. The ratio of width to height is different than in other vehicle types. And at Porsche, they aren’t just dynamic. I always say: they’re dramatic.”

“The brand identity of Porsche reveals itself in certain features that very clearly show that it is a Porsche. If, for example, you examine the shape over the front bonnet, you’ll notice that the fenders are higher than the hood. Or the roofline, our flyline sloping off towards the back: seen from the tail, we’ve got these shoulders above the rear fenders and the full-width rear light bar.”

“For product identity, the main headlights play an important role because this also is where the brand identity is anchored. On the product side, the exterior form defines the vehicle: the 911 is round, the Panamera more elliptical, the Mission E flat. Each one has its own character. What they all have in common, the brand identity, is the four-point principle.”

“Of course, Porsche always is about the totality of the experience. Does the sound make up 90 percent of this or just ten? At any rate, a sports car is more than its sound. If you want to make a ‘loud’ appearance, acoustically as well as optically, then Porsche is the wrong brand for you. Lots of studies say that design is the number one reason behind a purchase. But there’s also the matter of acceleration, there are g forces, the way it handles the corner. We’ve got to think about how we transfer into the future the things that our brand stands for. Just because I have electric drive doesn’t mean I can’t develop any emotionality. On the contrary.”

“The colour is extremely important because you can use it to change the character of a car. Sports cars tend to have powerful colours. But what works really well with the 911 is that the characters of a Targa, Turbo, GTS or GT 3 RS can be supported by the colour. Dark blue with a side window trim and chrome rims creates an elegant car; matte black and Indian red or racing yellow makes it a racer."