The Porsche World Roadshow recently pulled into Puerto Rico, one of the iconic automaker’s top Latin American markets that despite maneuvering a prolonged economic downturn, continues to fuel regional sales.
“The luxury car category, although it has dropped somewhat, has not contracted as much as other categories,” Víctor Gómez III, president of Garage Europa, told News is my Business. “However, it’s a market that changes every year and while before consumers used to change their cars more often, the economy has forced them to keep their cars longer.”
Nonetheless, Puerto Rico rolled in fourth behind Brazil, Mexico and Chile in a 32-market region that has also had its shares of economic turmoil. Last year, Garage Europa sold 227 Porsche vehicles, he said.
“For Porsche, we’re a very important market. After taking over the brand in 1996, we held on to the number one position for five years straight,” said Gómez. Garage Europa is a division of Gómez Hermanos Kennedy.
“The Porsche World Roadshow takes place 20 times a year in as many markets. Puerto Rico had not hosted it since 2000,” Gómez said. “We’ve been working on bringing this event back for 18 months, and were the second market behind the Philippines to host it this year.”
Last week’s event coincided with the German automaker’s unveiling of its completely redesigned 911 Carrera, a flagship member of its luxury vehicle fleet that also comprises the Boxter Spyder, the Cabrio, the Cayenne and the Panamera.
The roadshow puts drivers — which in this case included members of the local media — behind the wheel of Porsche’s five models for a test drive to experience the power and thrill of the ride. It also affords an opportunity to discover the features of each vehicle, which inarguably have their own distinctive personalities.
Porsche typically organizes the roadshow in three different ways: on a performance course, an everyday test drive, or a combination of both. When the event was first held in Puerto Rico in 2000, the number of vehicle models available was limited, so it took place on a racetrack, Gómez said.
“Now that we have more products, we wanted to do a test drive on real road conditions, because the truth is that 90 percent of our clients use their Porsche vehicles on the road. This event gives first-hand knowledge of what the car will do in a real, everyday situation,” Gómez said.
For last week’s test drive, Porsche traced a tightly supervised guided route from Kennedy Avenue in San Juan, on to the open highway, through the winding country roads of Cayey and back through Route 30. The changing driving conditions put each model’s features — powerful engines, suspension and stability — to the test.
The Cayenne is the epitome of a fuel-efficient luxury option for a family or female driver, while the stylish Panamera combines the attitude and power of a sports car with the comfort of a sedan. On the other hand, the 911 Carrera remains the automaker’s legendary speedster with a roaring, 350-horsepower engine capable of taking on the island’s changing landscape.