Jamie Merrill: Big and brash, but a Chelsea tractor has put car maker on a new road to success

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The Independent Online

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Porsche is booming. The German firm is in the middle of a full-throttle recalibration from niche sports car manufacturer to all-purpose purveyor of luxury SUVs and saloons.

From the early 1960s when Ferdinand "Butzi" Porsche designed the first 911, the firm's flagship sports car's sleek lines turned heads. Today, however, a two-and-a-half-ton Chelsea tractor makes up the majority of sales.

When it was launched 10 years ago, purists saw the Cayenne SUV as a big, brash and expensive monster, but it has transformed a tiny automotive player into a serious luxury contender.

With the Panama saloon and the soon-to-be-launched Macan baby SUV, it has shifted the focus from the struggling eurozone to the status-obsessed markets of China, India and Russia. It's great news for Europe's trade deficit and factory workers in Germany, but Porsche as Butzi knew it is no more.