Porsche Cayenne Cabrio, the story of the convertible SUV that never saw the light of day

That Porsche explored different niche segments and bodies is undeniable. The German firm has dared with everything that has been proposed, something else has been its end. A new secret reveals its intentions for a Porsche Cayenne Cabrio in the early 2000s.

We know that automotive brands explore all possibilities to stand out and distinguish themselves of the competition. Porsche is one of the manufacturers that invests the most in internal studies, even if later they do not materialize. Years ago explored the possibility of launching a sports compacta model that would have surprised and upset the segment, which it dismissed due to its high price and preferred to occupy with the 718 Cayman.

The firm dared with the Cayenne, a model considered a very illegitimate product but which, far from paying attention to purists and others, has done everything, got away with it and with a perfect game that totals thousands of units. What we didn’t know, and have been declassified now that two decades have passed of the launch of the sports SUV is that the German brand has explored a Porsche Cayenne Cabriolet based on the first generation from 2002.

2002 Porsche Cayenne Cabrio prototype
The rear of the Porsche Cayenne Cabrio prototype shows two design proposals

2002 Porsche Cayenne Cabrio prototype

Go ahead that convertibles are niche models in themselves and for a very capricious clientele, even more so in an SUV, not an SUV like the first Cayenne. There are differences between the two concepts, and the first generation was an all-terrain capable of overcoming the toughest obstacles, including even a gearbox.

The department in charge of the development of the Cayenne proposed not only one conventional variant, but three others: cut, a variant lengthened by 200 millimeters to house 7 seats and a Cabrio. The first was kept in a drawer until the third generation, the second was thrown away, and the third lay on the table of brand managers for a long time. Just enough for the designers to create the relevant life-size model. A “PFMas we say at Porsche, which no driving functionality.

However, what was a production challenge turned into an odyssey, as the fact the removal of the roof panel required a series of very significant reinforcements: in the A-pillars which, in addition, were delayed and more inclined, in addition to increase the size of the doors by 200 millimeters by eliminating the rear doors. Another big deal was the canvas roof, debating whether a simple roll-up canvas and manual assembly -and disassembly- or a “Z”-shaped tilting system, in the style of the 911

“A convertible SUV is an aesthetic challenge. The SUV still has a big, heavy body, and combining that with a little canvas roof, you get into some weird stuff,” says new head of design Michael Mauer.

And without that they didn’t agree, even less on the design, because one of the keys was a differentiated personality compared to the production model and more familiar. The stylists suggested two backcourt proposals, with the rear lights higher or lower. Of course, none succeeded. And while the Range Rover Evoque Cabrio and Nissan Murano CrossCabrio sold in Europe, and in the United States, the success of the Cayenne in its first generation, which swept away, more than made up for not being the world’s first premium brand with a convertible SUV.

Leave a Comment