Tennis star Maria Sharapova and Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller drive in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet during the victory ceremony after the final of the WTA Porsche GP in Stuttgart, Germany, April 28, 2013. More women are buying Porsches, especially SUVs.
Jody Verson never thought of herself as a Porsche woman.
So when the long-time Lexus owner from Deerfield, Illinois found herself behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne, she was blown away by the ultra luxury sports utility vehicle.
"I don't know how it happened, but I ended up driving a Porsche Cayenne one day as a loaner and absolutely loved it," said Verson. "It was a lot of fun and I couldn't believe it. Never would have believed it and said, okay, gotta have one."
Verson is not the only woman to discover a new-found appreciation for Porsche. In the last two years the luxury brand has doubled its sales to woman in the United States, with the percentage of Porsche sales to females rising from 7 percent to 15 percent.
"It is really hard to explain. I have girlfriends who want to know, 'why do you love this car so much?' It is just fun to drive, you really have to drive it," added Verson.
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One of the primary reasons Porsche is attracting more female buyers is the popularity of the Cayenne. Just as BMW, Lexus and Mercedes have been able to expand their customer base and win over mothers who want a luxury SUV, Porsche now finds itself in the same position.
Faris Nijim, the sales manager at the Porsche Exchange in Highland Park, Illinois, said one out of every four Cayennes sold at his dealership is to a woman.
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"We see more women coming in not only with their husbands, buton their own as the primary decision maker," said Nijim.
Given Porsche's reputation as a performance car driven by wealthy men who often want to convey a certain image, he understands why some women might feel intimidated when they think of buying a Porsche.
"We see a lot of times, when a woman walks into the showroom, there may be inherently a little bit of apprehension on her part right because she's not really sure what to expect or what the experience is going to be. So we have to provide an accommodating atmosphere that is non-threatening," explained Nijim.
Make no mistake. There are still plenty of men at the Porsche Exchange looking to buy the latest 911 or Boxster, but Nijim is increasingly seeing women coming in to browse and take a test drive.
As Porsche has increased sales to women, executives with the ultra-luxury brand have been careful not to radically change the company's marketing so it comes across as pandering to ladies.
Still the German brand has slowly but steadily expanded its advertising in a wider variety of magazines that reach upscale readers.
The idea? Spread the Porsche brand to a broader audience.
(Read more: Demand for 'street legal' ultra-luxury cars soars)
Nijim has seen the influx of new buyers, including women, with the Panamera sedan. "In late 2009, we brought the Panamera to market and in a period of just over a year and a half, 70 percent of those Panamera buyers were first-time Porsche buyers [and] had never walked into a Porsche showroom before."
As for Jody Verson, she said her friends have a new opinion of Porsche and her Cayenne. "My girlfriends can't believe how pretty the inside is. It is really a pretty car."
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First published July 26 2013, 12:12 PM