Porsche comes to the Baltics

  • 2000-09-28
  • Jorgen Johansson
RIGA - There was a distinct smell of burnt rubber in Riga's air on Sept. 23. About 50 eager test drivers took turns taking the latest Porsche models for a spin at Bikernieku sport complex race track. This was the first step toward introducing Porsche to potential Latvian buyers.

A test drive of the Porsche Boxster S, a small two-seater with a top speed of 260 km/h and a price tag of 25,890 lats, quickly lets one in on the Porsche mystique.

Pedal to the floor, the car takes off like a speeding bullet, giving the feeling that the eyeballs were being sucked through the back of the head. Braking was a different story altogether. Going from 150 km/h to a complete standstill didn't take much longer than a blink of an eye.

It cornered as if on rails.

There's no doubt Porsche makes great cars, the question is whether anyone in Latvia will buy one.

The opening of a Porsche dealership in Latvia is planned for 2002. But a lot of preparations are needed first.

"Our main task at the moment is to change people's perception about Porsche as an unaffordable and unattainable dream," said Andris Ezerins, sales manager of Baltijas Sporta Auto. "This event is the first step in achieving this goal."

The opening of a temporary Porsche saloon is planned to take place in November this year.

Baiba Sinta, spokeswoman for the Porsche project in Latvia, said there's hope for a Porsche market in Latvia, and that first the company will try to sell the latest off-road model, the Cayenne.

"We have estimated that it will be possible to sell between 20 and 50 cars per year in the Baltics," Sinta said. "The potential buyers are young men starting from 30 years old or people who already drive cars like a Mercedes, BMW or a Japanese sports car."

Rolands Trenko, a happy test driver, stepped out of a Porsche Boxter with a big smile on his face, and said a lifetime dream had come true.

"I have been interested in Porsches since I was a young schoolboy," Trenko said.

"One can immediately feel that Porsche is a leading car manufacturer," he said. "If I had the money I would absolutely buy one."

The cheapest Porsche to be offered in Latvia will be the Boxster and it will cost 22,290 lats ($36,240). The most expensive one is the 911 Carrera Turbo, with a price tag of 62,790 lats.