When Porsche announced that it was building an SUV, a lot of fans of the brand raised their pitchforks. After all, from a business of making sports cars, Porsche suddenly was hell-bent on making a family-friendly SUV. On the upside, the Porsche Cayenne proved to be a hit for the brand. It also was a showcase to the world that an SUV could be a sports car yet had a bit of off-roading capability.
But here’s the reason why Porsche made an SUV rather than a sedan. Initially called project Colorado, the Cayenne was a joint project with the brand’s owner–Volkswagen. It born out of consideration that SUVs are the most popular type of vehicle in the North American market, which is Porsche’s largest market at the time. Its CEO back then, Wendelin Wiedeking, also set his sights on the emerging Asian market. Ambitions were high right from the start: Porsche was not content merely to build a sporty SUV consistent with the brand but aimed to give the top competitors in the off-road segment a run for their money.
The Porsche Cayenne was developed to be not just good off-road, but also fundamentally to be the Porsche of SUVs. This meant that it needed great handling that’s typical of a Porsche. Its wide technical range makes the Cayenne a family-friendly SUV that is also a robust off-roader and highly dynamic sports car with typical Porsche performance.
As environmental regulations became ever stricter, the Cayenne wasn’t immune to electrification. The Cayenne S Hybrid was introduced in 2010, and it wasn’t just fuel-efficient for the type of vehicle it is. The addition of electric motors gave it responsive acceleration that was never before seen in a Cayenne.
It was no doubt that because it was an SUV, and the fact that it drove like a sports car, the Porsche Cayenne was a huge success. The first generation model sold 276,652 units, while the million Cayenne was produced in 2020. In 2021, 80,000 vehicles are delivered, which is more than double the 35,000 per annum that the first generation model had on average.