Porsche designed the C88 experimental car for China. The brief was simple: the car had to be cheap, efficient, large enough to carry five people, and be built in China under a joint venture with First Automotive Works (FAW). Given the rate at which the Chinese car market was growing – not to mention the 1.2 billion people who lived there at the time – it’s no surprise that a number of firms responded with plans and prototypes. Porsche was one such company.
In just four months, Porsche created a minor miracle by achieving something that few manufacturers have achieved in a lifetime: it designed and built a desirable compact saloon.
Porsche went to extraordinary lengths to design a car that would work for the Chinese government and its people. Porsche talked to Chinese business owners and journalists, and even brought in an engineer and technician from China.
The C88 made its debut at the 1994 Beijing Auto Show. The C stood for ‘Cheap’, ‘Clean’ and ‘Comfort’, while 88 was a reference to ‘Eight’ – the Chinese lucky number. Note the logo – the triangle is a nod to China’s one-child policy. There wasn’t a Porsche badge to be found.
Power was sourced from a 1.1-litre 16-valve engine that could hit 62mph… eventually. For once, Porsche wasn’t interested in performance – what mattered was the efficiency. It kept the weight down to 980kg, which would have meant fuel economy in the region of 49mpg.