On Friday Porsche published a first teaser image of the all-new third-generation Cayenne, which is set for launch on August 29. And though the picture is sketchy, it shows that – true to the company’s form – the next car will be an evolution of its predecessor, in terms of exterior design.
But, Porsche being Porsche, there will be a huge revolutionary leap in performance. Indeed, most commentators expect the range-topping model to feature a hybrid V8 under the hood capable of outputting 500kW to all four wheels.
When Porsche first unveiled the Cayenne, 15 years ago, almost to the day, it was taking a huge gamble. For the 70 years before August 21, 2002, the brand had stood for track-bred lightweight sportscars.
And yet, despite criticism from the motoring press that it was simply exploiting its standing for financial gain, the car was a huge hit.
When asked his thoughts on the matter, the former head of design at BMW and the man considered one of the architects of the SUV phenomenon, Chris Bangle said: “The great thing about cars is there doesn’t need to be any sense to it all, it just has to be appealing and justifiable.”
And appeal to the masses it did. Today the Cayenne and Macan (Porsche’s smaller sporty SUV) account for the vast majority of all Porsche sales and have been the driving force behind year upon year of record sales.
In 2002/2003 the company’s total sales were 66 803 cars almost half of which were 911s. Compare that with 2016. The total is now a staggering 237 778 cars, and just 32 409 of them were 911s while 70 000 were Cayennes.
Although BMW and Chris Bangle will quite rightly argue that they started the premium SUV trend with the original X5 in 1999, Porsche’s move into the market led to the explosion we see today.
A pioneer in practical luxury
The Cayenne is why Maserati and Bentley now sell SUVs and is also why the Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin DBX are set for launch. Even companies like Land Rover that only build SUVs have had to shake up their model lines in order to keep up.
All of which still begs the question: Why? According to designers and executives alike, the SUV appeals to the head as much as the heart. And, in the case of those from companies better known for two-seat sports cars, finally offers buyers a car for the family rather than personal use. “The SUV is useful for all the family – taking the children to school, going to the gym, activities, etc,” explains Maserati’s general manager Giulio Pastore.
When Aston Martin’s CEO, Dr Andy Palmer was asked the same question, he replied: “Generation Y sees the SUV as the normal proportions of a car. This change is exacerbated in countries like China where the SUV is the norm.”
In other words, the premium sports SUV has democratized the exotic market and, thanks to the Cayenne is the shape of all sportscars to come. – AFP Relaxnews