porsche once experimented with a weird cayenne convertible

Convertible SUVs are weird, and most examples of it have turned out… pretty bad – just take a look at the Range Rover Evoque Convertible. Fortunately these odd mishmashes don’t come about very often, but even Porsche once experimented with a Cayenne Convertible concept, which we can only describe as grotesque, sorry.

The open-air Cayenne was one of three possible spin-offs that Porsche considered shortly after the launch of the original five-door SUV back in 2002, alongside a seven-seater and a coupe version – the latter nearly 20 years before the current Cayenne Coupe joined the line-up in 2019.

Despite being the most unconventional concept among the three, the convertible Cayenne actually “surprisingly” made it much further than the other two in the conceptualising process, with a single Package Function Model (PFM) actually built, and still being kept in storage at the Porsche Museum.

Revealed as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations for the original Cayenne, the PFM model was made for designers to assess the concept’s viability as an actual vehicle, physically testing for things such as ingress and egress, headroom, seating position, and other small details that are usually difficult to tell on paper.

It’s not meant to be driven, and thus it doesn’t have a functioning powertrain underneath the bodyshell, nor the necessary body-stiffening measures needed for a convertible. It does, however, give us a good look at what the designers had in mind for the Cayenne Convertible, including the two separate rear-end designs as they themselves can’t decide how it should look.

The tone of the press release also shows that Porsche wasn’t too fond of the idea. Aside from it looking like… that, the company also had doubts about its profitability.

“An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally,” says Porsche’s current chief designer, Michael Mauer, while looking at the concept today. “An SUV always has a large and heavy body. You combine this with a small top half and then cut off the roof – you get very strange shapes emerging from that.”

Luckily, the Cayenne Convertible wasn’t a complete waste of time for Porsche. Although the project (fortunately) did not reach production, it did at least give Porsche a new roof-folding mechanism design that was eventually adopted onto the 991-generation 911 Targa.


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