The 2017 Geneva Motor Show saw a good mix of saloons, hatchbacks, sports utility vehicles and sports cars.
At the Porsche stand, the show stars were the new 911 GT3 and Panamera Sport Turismo.
After the latter was unveiled, I noticed someone from the Porsche VIP delegation looking intently at the “shooting brake” variant of the second-generation fastback flagship.
The gentleman is Michael Steiner, member of the Porsche executive board who oversees all research-and-development matters, and also chairs the shareholders’ committee of Porsche Engineering.
He has a special interest in the Panamera because he led the development of the first model back in 2005.
Steiner, 52, studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich, and joined Porsche AG in 2002 after several years in management positions at Daimler AG.
He held several key posts within Porsche before his current and most senior appointment.
Steiner shares his thoughts on technological developments at Porsche and drops hints about the brand’s future models.
Are there plans to introduce another saloon to the Porsche model range?
Yes, we are looking at this very seriously. A hint of what to expect is the Porsche Concept Study Mission E, our first fully electric vehicle which we showed at Frankfurt Motor Show 2015. The new four-door model will be very close to the Mission E in design, and smaller and more compact than the Panamera.
Will the 911 ever be available with a flat-4 engine?
We created the new turbocharged 2-litre and 2.5-litre flat-4 engines for the Boxster and Cayman as they fit the cars perfectly. Likewise, we feel the flat-6 engines that the 911 is available with now match it very well.
Why did Porsche re-introduce the manual gearbox in the 911 GT3?
All models of the 911, except the Turbo and Turbo S, are available with a 7-speed manual transmission. For the 911 GT3, the decision to offer the manual gearbox as an option was down to the feedback we received from many of our customers. We will monitor the sales of the 911 GT3 closely to help us decide the future of the manual gearbox.
Can you tell us something about the next Cayenne?
I can’t divulge details, but I can share what it will be like in principle. It will be lighter and more powerful, for sure. And for connectivity and driving technologies, it will share many of what is already offered in the new Panamera.
Will we ever see a fully autonomous Porsche?
Innovations have always played a fundamental role at Porsche and this is the only way to keep customers fascinated. Connectivity and driver-assistance systems with a trend towards piloted driving are very exciting for us, but there are no plans for a fully autonomous-driving Porsche. We will, however, continue to invest in such technologies.
How will these autonomous technologies be applied in the Porsche context?
For example, nobody likes traffic jams and we know that our customers will be stuck in very heavy traffic congestion from time to time, hence we want to ease the experience in such situations. But as soon as the traffic clears or there’s a country road, we will always enable our customers to get back to enjoying the pleasure of driving a Porsche.
What is the influence of motor racing on the development of Porsche road cars?
In motor racing, state-of-the-art technologies are developed and tested under extreme conditions, and we gain important insights that flow into series development. The 24 Hours of Le Mans, for example, is an extraordinary endurance test for high-performance lithium-ion batteries and other components. The experience we gain there is enormously important for the ongoing development of electro-mobility.
Which Porsche would you choose to use up your very last tankful of fuel?
This is a very difficult question, as I have been with the brand for so long. I have two answers: For the racing car, my choice is the 919 Hybrid, and for the road-going model, my pick is the 918 Spyder.