Of course, the Corvette wouldn't be the Corvette without a little racetrack time. Twenty-four hours of racetrack time, to be exact, run consecutively at top speed, with only brief pit stops to refuel and switch drivers. "Most drivers will never drive on a racetrack," says Wickman. "But a few will, and they have every right to expect that the Corvette will perform at this level." Like it has for the past 50 years.

As difficult as it is to keep the Corvette on top, that challenge is probably not as daunting as the one currently faced by Porsche with its brand-new and first-ever SUV, the Cayenne. Any vehicle bearing the Porsche moniker faces stratospheric expectations, and for a brand that trades so heavily on its performance legend, failing to meet those expectations could be catastrophic.

Chris Gilman, manager of Porsche's SUV project, Porsche Cars North America, bears responsibility for ensuring that the Cayenne does the renowned German manufacturer proud. The best way to do that? "We tested the Cayenne the same as we test our sports cars," says Gilman. "First, we have to prove it's a Porsche. Then, we prove it's off-road capable."

At the heart of that proof is what Gilman calls the 80,000 Kilometer Test. The 80,000 kilometers (49,712 miles) are broken into five segments, consisting of 10,000 kilometers of city driving, 22,000 of rural highway, 24,000 of autobahn, 6,000 on the Nürburgring, and 18,000 on a high-speed oval track in Italy. After the first 80,000 kilometers, the car is completely dismantled, and each individual part evaluated. It is then reassembled, and the 80,000 kilometers are repeated. Again, it is dismantled and evaluated. And again, the 80,000 kilometers are repeated, for a total of nearly 150,000 miles. "Only after a part passes all three evaluations is it approved for production," explains Gilman.