Now that it’s been twenty years since the introduction of the revolutionary Porsche Cayenne, the brand is celebrating its release with a series of untold stories about its production. Today, we’re learning more about a one-off Cayenne Convertible, located at the Porsche Museum. It’s the only Porsche-built open-top Cayenne on the planet.
The Cayenne was a ground-breaking success all on its own when it arrived. Despite some who decried the necessary compromises that come with a taller, heavier vehicle, the SUV proved that it could indeed drive like a Porsche. It sparked off a performance SUV craze that’s given us models like the BMW X5M and the Lamborghini Urus. Still, Porsche wasn’t content to sit back, and not long after the release of the first Cayenne, it was working hard on the car you see here.
Internally, they’re calling it the Package Function Model or PFM for short because it’s a non-driving prototype that was entirely built for study. As such it has none of the body-stiffening measures required for a convertible. Due to that, the Cayenne PFM is always transported when it needs to be moved from one location to another.
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Porsche had four main objectives with the Cayenne Convertible PFM. Firstly, to find out how comfortable would it be with shortened A-pillars and a sloping coupe-styled roof. How practical is it with doors that are 20 cm (7.8 inches) longer than normal, and if they could build a high-quality soft top that would also fold quickly? And finally, can they make it look good?
That last question was so divisive that they ended up building the PFM with two different tail sections. “There was still disagreement on the final issue in 2002, and two different rear sections were designed for the Package Function Model,” explains Porsche. “The left-hand tail light was set low on the rear of the car, while the right-hand one was noticeably higher.”
On the driver’s side of the car, the lights are positioned quite low and the SUV gives off a very 911-esque vibe. On the passenger side, the light is higher and integrated into the fender more. Now, years later, some of the design cues ended up being used for the Cayenne Coupe.
Why Porsche Decided Against The Production Of The Convertible Cayenne
Porsche says that it did not pursue the convertible idea further because “forecasts regarding profitability were not particularly promising and doubts remained as to whether the car would look as appealing as a Porsche should”.
“An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally,” said Porsche’s design chief, Michael Mauer, who was not yet in office in 2002, after 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.”
What do you think of the Cayenne Cabriolet, should Porsche have built it or does it look a bit too much like a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet for your taste? Let us know in the comments below.