Is a 6-seat Porsche outstanding or outrageous?
Change is inevitable. Time and tide wait for no man - nor vehicle - as the cliché goes.
Of course, vehicle designers want to push the envelope along with the clock, but finding the right balance of form and function is always key to a successful revamp.
Porsche is keen on defining how cars will look “the day after tomorrow”. While what you see here isn’t one of their renowned sports cars (thank god), this may very well set Porsche's evolution and a revolution of vehicle designs everywhere.
That's what the Porsche Renndienst is. It’s a fully electric-powered van, and it translates to “racing service”, and it is one of 15 never-before-seen design studies made by Porsche. The mere fact that you see a people carrier made by Porsche is a rarity in itself, but how and why it was built is what we’re looking at here. The German manufacturer is looking forward, and with technologies booming left and right, they’re all about the UX or user experience. Out go the familiar looks and forms, and in come functions that they believe would be important in the future.
It looks like a literal capsule, but there’s nothing too new or odd about that. Porsche said it’s just a “logical consequence” of the modular interior. And wow, that interior is something, indeed. “In the Taycan, we have shown how much we think ahead,” said Ivo van Hulten, Director of User Experience Design of Porsche. “Now we were looking at a possible next overall innovation. For this, we thought and worked from the inside out.”
Patterning off a digital lifestyle and the relationship between driver, passengers, and the vehicle, the Renndienst is what van Hulten and his team deem what Porsche could be: asymmetrical. The left side is closed more than half its length, while the right has more and wider windows. The Renndienst is made to seat six (more ideally five) and all seats were designed for movement and proper support.
“A digital journey can open a gateway to a universe for us, but it can never replace the physical experience. A car is a space that moves whether I’m driving it myself or not,” said Markus Auerbach, head of Interior Design. “The bench seat allows a different sitting angle due to its curved sides – we can turn towards each other. It is a particularly communicative area that invites relaxation, offering alternative seating positions for talking, working, and relaxing,’ he added.
While a feeling of security and comfort are of utmost importance in their design, comfort and features are what dominate the Renndient’s modular interior. The middle row is offset to the left and right, which affords both passengers their own screens that operate individually on the dashboard. The driver’s seat swivels 180-degrees with a flick of the wrist, and all the information the driver needs are shown with five round instruments in the central dashboard cluster.
As far as digital goes, the team and van Hulten had a pretty strange inspiration for the interior design and its functions, and it goes back to the past. Do you remember Knight Rider and the show’s talking car K.I.T.T.? Yes, that’s exactly what van Hulten had in mind.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “it’s a van, it’s not what Porsche is known for,” and you’re right. But what we have to keep in mind is how this design philosophy will inevitably trickle down to the future of Porsche’s vehicle lineup. Are we looking at more people-carrying Porsches? Are we supposed to expect more than four seats in their crossovers and SUVs?
This is what it is: a taste of what Porsche will look like “the day after tomorrow”. And if this is the “soul” that the designers at Style Porsche want to show us, then everyone’s going to be in for a surprise tomorrow, and the decades after that.