Did I hear that right?!?! Porsche is going to build an SUV???? And then name it after a household kitchen spice – “the horror”. That was my reaction when it was announced that Porsche AG wanted to add a Sport Utility Vehicle to their sports car lineup. It was at that moment I understood how Britney Spears fans felt when they heard that she really does lip sync. Was this the death of the famous sports car company?
I remember being in town for the Los Angeles auto show with some of my Porsche Club buddies in 2002 when the Cayenne was announced. When we got to the Porsche display they were making a big deal of the new SUV without it even being there. They had an enclosed walk through display with brightly lit photographs of the car and lot of technical mumbo jumbo but no car. Man, not only was it not a Porsche but it wasn’t very attractive. A Porsche sales person or representative was available to answer any questions and one of my friends made a comment how it wasn’t a real Porsche. After all, the Cayenne is built on the same chassis as the Volkswagen Toureg. The rep replied that in fact it was a real Porsche and the conversation immediately got very heated from there. I was sort of embarrassed by my friend’s comments but it was fun to see the rep lose his cool. This little exchange I’m sure paled in comparison to the discussion (or should I say battle) that ensued when that powers that be at Porsche told the board of directors that their company must build an SUV.
When it comes down to it, the sports car market is just too fickle. So Porsche built an SUV. Funny thing is, it worked! Porsche sold more Cayenne’s than any other car they have ever built (over 100,000). Production started in 2002 (and released in North America in 2003) till 2007 when they took a break to revamp the model for 2008. The 2008 model has been released with 6 different engine packages starting with an entry level 3.6 liter V6 to a twin turbo 4.5 liter V8 520 horse power monster! And for those of you with lots of green to go green, the Cayenne will be released as a hybrid in any engine format in 2010. Lets see, at 25mpg and gasoline at $3 a gallon and the vehicle cost of $75,000+ the break even point will be, uh, NEVER!