Fourteen years before the Cayenne was introduced, Ferry Porsche made a statement that seemed to have foretold of the Cayenne, saying, “If we build an off-road model according to our standards of quality, and it has a Porsche crest on the front, people will buy it.”
The Cayenne, since its introduction in 2002, has been one of the major pulls to Porsche’s consistent global success.
Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing, shared, “The Cayenne has always been a major draw for our brand – it has brought many new customers and fans from all over the world to Porsche over the past 20 years.”
For the German luxury, high-performance sports car manufacturer, the 90s did not start off on the right track. In fact, in the early 90s, Porsche faced one of their biggest economic crises in their history. For the financial year 1991/92, they only delivered 23,060 cars putting the luxury car manufacturer in the red. Some big decisions had to be made in order to ensure the company’s long-term economic success.
In 1996, they launched the Boxster which helped to get them out of the rut, but it wasn’t long before they realized that the legendary 911 and the newly launched mid-engined model might not be enough to secure the future of the company. It was then that they started planning a ‘third Porsche’ although nothing was final at the time with regards to the third Porsche’s segment.
Two types of vehicles were under consideration, an off-road vehicle and a people-carrier/MPV. Since North America was their largest market at the time, the recommendation of the US sales organization to create an off-road vehicle bore much weight. And from the beginning, Porsche’s goal was ambitious; they not only wanted to create an SUV, they wanted one that would be consistent with the brand which would also give their off-road segment competitors a run for their money.
In June 1998, Porsche officially announced a joint project with Volkswagen which they codenamed ‘Colorado’. The Porsche Cayenne and the Volkswagen Touareg shared the same platform. In their top-secret Hemmingen site, Porsche developed their joint platform, while Volkswagen shared their production expertise for large volumes. Although they have the same architecture, each manufacturer developed their own chassis set up and used their own engines.
Known internally as E1 and E2, the first- and second-generation models came out of the production line in Leipzig.
The wide technical range of the Cayenne made it a family-friendly touring vehicle that is also a highly dynamic sports car and a capable off-roader that is given the typical Porsche performance. Over the past 20 years, the characteristics of the Cayenne helped shape the sport utility vehicle (SUV) programs.
The E1, the first-generation Cayenne, started off strong with the clients given a choice between two V8 engines. For the latest models, the Cayenne S is equipped with a newly developed 4.5-liter engine that can generate 250 kW (340 PS). Using the same displacement, the Cayenne Turbo generates an impressive 331kW (450 PS).
The introduction of the Cayenne also introduced some innovations and new features that the sports car was equipped with. It was then that the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) system was introduced. It distributed the power between the rear and front axles with a standard ratio of 62:38.
Another innovation that was introduced in the Cayenne is the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management). Taking the Cayenne Driver’s driving style, it continually regulates the damping force and also checks the road conditions. The air suspension of the PASM also helped the Cayenne off-road.
Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid
Porsche head of design Michael Mauer described the evolution of the original Cayenne’s design as “establish, sharpen, refine.” And this is exactly what they did with the third generation (E3) Cayenne. With the success of the first generation (E1), the second generation (E2) aimed to optimize the weight and performance of the Cayenne. It was also then that Porsche introduced the hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains that overhauled the design of the E2. With a Torsen center differential, all existing engines got additional power and a bonus of 24 percent lower fuel consumption.
Running on electric power alone, the third generation Cayenne has a top speed of 135 kph with a range of 44 kilometers with zero tailpipe emissions.
Head of the Porsche SUV series from 2013 to 2020 Hans-Jürgen Wöhler shared, “The objective with the E3 was to heighten the range of capabilities even further.” Wöhler added, “It was all about making it sportier with greater ride comfort while maintaining off-road capabilities.” To achieve this, they added a central control unit to integrate all driver assistance systems. It also got a connectivity upgrade with WiFi, Bluetooth, and smartphone integration.
It was also in 2017, when the third Cayenne was introduced that they said goodbye to the diesel engine and concentrated on further developing the plug-in hybrid. In the spring of 2019, they also released a sportier Cayenne Coupé. It was also roughly around the same time that the most powerful Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid was released. With a system output of 500 kW and a system torque of 900 Newton meters that is instantaneously available from a standstill, the huge SUV can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in only 3.8 seconds.
The Cayenne was designed to be a sporty all-rounder capable of exemplary performance in a variety of extreme conditions. This was first tested in 2006 when two private rally teams entered a Porsche Cayenne S in the Transsyberia Rally and it came out winning the first and second place.
From that victory, Porsche developed a limited run of Cayenne S Transsyberia cars that was designed to run long-distance rallies as a customer racing vehicle. It proved to be a great decision as Porsche took a one-two-three victory at the 2007 Transsyberia. If that wasn’t enough, a total of seven Porsches was able to make it to the top 10.
The Cayenne S Transsyberia was specially equipped with specialist all-terrain system, shorter axle ratio, safety cage, differential lock, reinforced underbody panelling, and reinforced front wishbones. Even with all the additional features, the engine output was still at 283 kW.
In 2008, the Cayenne S Transsyberia models took all the top 10 slot except for sixth place in the Siberia Rally.
The Cayenne And New Markets
It wasn’t long after the Cayenne made its debut at the Paris Motor Show in 2002 that it became a worldwide success. Porsche was only originally expecting to sell around 25,000 examples annually. For the first eight years, Porsche was able to sell roughly 35,000 vehicles annually. In the summer of 2020, the millionth Cayenne rolled off the production line. In 2021, more than 80,000 examples were delivered.
The Cayenne, for Porsche, symbolized the perfect balance of sustainable economic success without compromising their motorsport-based values.
During the world premier of the third generation Porsche Cayenne at the Porsche Museum in 2017, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG Oliver Blume stated, “With the Cayenne, we have succeeded for the first time in successfully transferring the Porsche legend to a completely new market segment. Our sports car in the SUV segment has proven to be a bestseller and growth engine since 2002. And that’s not all. The Cayenne has opened the door to many new markets for Porsche and made a significant contribution to the internationalisation of our sales network.”
“As a style icon in the SUV segment, the Cayenne has helped strengthen the appeal of our brand, particularly in China and other Asian markets. It is now one of Porsche’s most in-demand models worldwide, and I’m sure its popularity will remain strong in the future,” added Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing at Porsche.