'Tiptronic' 911 drives up Porsche sales

THINK of a German sports car and, inevitably, the unforgettable Porsche springs to mind.

Synonymous with style, class and a power, the Porsche range continues to turn heads around the world and, in Hong Kong, the popularity of the purring sports car is beginning to soar.

Jebsen Co Ltd, which handles the Porsche franchise in the territory, estimates that, this year, 250 of the gleaming cars will be delivered to owners who are itching at the thought of getting behind the wheel and putting their dream machines to the test.

This will represent a doubling of the Porsche sales from last year and Chris Thomas, the general manager of the Jebsen Motor Group, said he felt the new Porsches had more appeal than before.

New design specifications on the 911 Carrera have made it the most popular Porsche in Hong Kong. The silhouette of the car is the same as it has been for the past 30 years, but every other component of the car, apart from the all-important crest, has changed since its inception in 1963.

The car has a new multi-link rear axle to improve road holding, a more powerful engine that also delivers better fuel economy, and a bigger luggage area.

Another stunning new feature of the car is the 'Tiptronic' gear system, which is a combined manual or automatic gear box that allows the driver the choice of driving mode.

Controls to operate the automatic 'Tiptronic' gear system are incorporated into the steering wheel of the 911, allowing the driver to concentrate fully and react more quickly to traffic.

The 911 Carrera, fitted with the 'Tiptronic' system, retails for $1.29 million. It accounts for about 78 per cent of Porsche sales in Hong Kong. The next best seller is the manual 911 Carrera, which costs $1.21 million. It has 10 per cent of sales.

The top-of-the-range 928 GTS, at $1.56 million, makes up seven per cent of Porsche's sales in the territory and the 968 'Tiptronic', a bargain at $810,000, accounts for five per cent of the figures.

Mr Thomas said: 'Without a doubt, Porsche will have its best year ever in Hong Kong.

'As a company, Porsche has three categories of sales for its regions. They are 'developing', 'normal' and 'major' and, for the first time, we are in the 'major' bracket.' Jebsen will celebrate 40 years of representing Porsche in Hong Kong next year.

'Even those people who may not be aware of Porsche's racing heritage become subconsciously aware of it when they sit behind the wheel of one of these cars,' he said.

'There is no other super car like the Porsche. It can be used on the track and it can be used on the road seven days a week. No competitor comes near the Porsche for its performance, style and reliability,' Porsche has one showroom in Causeway Bay, and employs 60 people. It has 0.75 per cent of the Hong Kong market.

'That is an excellent achievement and we are confident that we can continue to build on this success,' Mr Thomas said.

'We certainly have plans for development but, whether that means expansion in people and property, we will have to wait and see.'