Two decades into its amazing life, the story of the Porsche Cayenne is already a legend.
At a time when Porsche’s future was uncertain, the brand took a big risk and created something that was a great departure from what the brand was known for decades: an SUV. What resulted was the Porsche Cayenne, a vehicle that sent shockwaves through the entire automotive industry and rewrote the rulebook for what a sports car and a luxury car could be. However, being something so radically different than Porsche’s usual sports cars, the design journey of the Cayenne was an interesting one. The biggest challenge was in communicating that the Cayenne, despite being an SUV, was a Porsche.
Porsche set out to make the Cayenne an SUV that served its client flawlessly both on and off the road. It needed to fit five passengers and luggage, and have ground clearance fit for unpaved journeys. Along with a large V8 engine, mounted in the front of the car, the concept of the Cayenne was quite alien to Porsche. To make it look like a distinguished Porsche, one of the requirements was for the front end to strikingly resemble the 911. The headlights of the first Cayenne, which are higher than the hood and in the same shape as the 911 of the time, do this job.
The doors, which were shared with the Volkswagen Touareg that was developed simultaneously with the Cayenne, were the biggest challenge for the team as they took up most of the side of the car, and had to look as though they were made for both models. The Touareg and the Cayenne sharing resources also presented challenges in the interior, where Porsche had to develop a new instrument cluster to accommodate the traditional five-tube design Porsche is known for, but overcoming all of these challenges was well worth the effort, as the Cayenne remains 20 years later one of the most important pieces of Porsche’s history.