Before a new model vehicle ever hits the show room floor, many key events have to take place – many of which happen behind the scenes and completely unbeknownst to the consumer. Ever wondered why your salesperson knows so much about how the vehicle you’re interested in handles rocky terrain? Ever been curious as to how your salesperson knows what it’s like to drive a vehicle like the one you’re interested in at speeds in excess of 100mph?
With Porsche’s launch of the 2003 Cayenne, consumers are certain to ask all kinds of questions. Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) wanted to make certain their sales staff could answer as many questions as possible, so they set-up a special “Drivers Experience” event for dealership personnel to attend.
Held at the recently completed and ultra-modern Barber Motorsports Park, located just outside of Birmingham, Alabama, PCNA invited dealership staff from around the nation to attend a two-day event in which the Cayenne’s capabilities were showcased. We were fortunate to catch up with Howard Winslow, sales manager from Porsche of Arlington, and spent some time talking with him about the Porsche Cayenne Driving Experience.
“Off-road, the Cayenne is as capable as any sports utility vehicle, including long time off-road legends like Land Rover,” says Winslow, “And on the track, well, it’s nearly as capable as any car, including the 911.”
Howard spent approximately two days at the Barber Motorsports Park putting the Cayenne through its paces, learning the ins and outs of the vehicle, while following road racing legend, Hurley Haywood around the 2.3 mile FIA/FIM-approved racetrack.
“We’d be behind Hurley, who was in a 911, and they’d tell us to just follow him around the course – same speed, same lines, same braking. It was amazing to drive a 5,000lb Cayenne at 3,200lb 911 speeds. It was absolutely mind boggling, the truck just followed him wherever he went.”
According to Winslow, the Cayenne doesn’t give the driver any indication of its massive size while operating at speed. He commented that the vehicle was very nimble, cornered very flat, and was a great vehicle on the track. He commented that the only time he was reminded he was driving a “truck” was when he’d hit the accelerator. “The turbo is fast – way fast, but the S, while it’s no slouch, reminds you that you’re driving a truck,” he commented.
But the Barber Motorsports Park isn’t all about road coursing – there are two off-road tracks, located in the woods within the complex. “It was amazing that it could do what it could off-road,” says Winslow, while recalling his woodland experiences with the Cayenne. “I had to ask the guys who had more experience with vehicles in an off-road environment if there was anything comparable to the Cayenne off-road. They said it was as capable as anything from Land Rover, which to me, says quite a bit, given Land Rover’s history.”
“There were things that looked impossible to me, but you were sitting behind the wheel and the instructor said ‘do it’, and you did it and the Cayenne did the task without any trouble.” According to Winslow, “The object of off-roading is to go as slow as possible and as fast as necessary – we’d put it in ‘reduction gear’ while going downhill; and we’re talking about some steep grades- it would just creep down the hill, completely stable and steady. No need to put your foot on the brake – it was able to handle the situation perfectly.”
I was excited to hear more about the Turbo Cayenne, so I asked Howard about the motor and the driving experience as it related to the Turbo. “There’s zero turbo lag – power is precise and spot on. But other than the difference in acceleration, which is significant, there’s no difference between the S-model and the Turbo. None.”
Howard had nothing but positive comments for PCNA and their hospitality. “They put us in a great hotel – at least a 4-star hotel, and the food was amazing. Porsche always does a great job when it comes to functions like this – it’s a real pleasure to attend Porsche events.”
He indicated that there were approximately 40 dealership personnel (from various dealerships) in attendance at his session. He estimated that Porsche would be conducting the Cayenne Driving Experience for nearly two-months – which is quite amazing. Even more amazing is the fact that just about every person in a Porsche dealership is invited to attend.
“We had sales people, technicians, parts staff, service writers, just about everyone from the dealership was able to attend the training. Porsche is always real good about inviting everyone to new model trainings.”
By the time you read this article, Cayenne’s should be making their debut at dealerships around the nation. Porsche has set March 15th as the official launch date for demo vehicles to be available, and Porsche of Arlington is planning an introduction party at their dealership on March 14. Howard expects to have a few hundred people on hand for the party.
Current allocations for Porsche of Arlington sets the number of Cayenne’s available at approximately 10 cars per month, and Howard expects the first batch of Cayenne’s to arrive around the first week of April. I’d highly recommend that if you’re interested in the Cayenne that you give Howard a call – he’s very much a Porsche enthusiast, and with his recent on and off-road experiences, he’s well versed in “pepper speak”.
For more information:
Porsche of Arlington, Virginia