Porsche is currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first SUV, the Cayenne, and as such has brought an unconventional prototype out of storage.
It’s a convertible based on the first-generation Cayenne, that never made it to production – although one physical prototype was made.
It was apparently “considered” shortly after the European launch of the first-generation Cayenne in December 2002.
Measuring in at roughly 4.8 metres long, this Cayenne convertible prototype isn’t road-going and is referred to by Porsche as a Package Function Model (PFM).
The German sports car brand said the Cayenne convertible prototype is “incapable of providing a safe and stable drive”, thus test drives were never planned. It has to be “transported to its destination when required”.
Pointing out the obvious, Porsche removed the roof of a first-generation Cayenne in order to create this one-off prototype and added a range of “body-stiffening measures necessary for a convertible”.
Porsche said it envisaged a soft-top folding roof for the Cayenne convertible, similar in functionality to the today’s convertible roof from the 911 Targa, though it never made it passed the computer simulation stage.
The way the folding roof was supposed to work was the luggage compartment lid would pivot backwards and the soft-top would pass over the fixed roll bar and be “swallowed” in the rear by the luggage compartment lid.
Today, a fabric top is stowed in the boot of the Cayenne convertible prototype and must be manually fitted if required.
Another notable change this prototype has, compared to a regular first-generation Cayenne, is the lack of the rear doors. Instead, the front doors were lengthened by 20cm.
The windscreen and A-pillars were shortened, and with the fabric roof in place the Cayenne convertible prototype has a more coupe-like silhouette with a tapered roofline.
An interesting area to point out on the prototype is the rear, as it’s split down the middle with two drastically different designs due to a “disagreement”.
The left-hand side of the rear has the tail light set low, whereas the right-hand side the tail light is higher up.
The right-hand rear design, and more specifically the tail light, looks somewhat similar to the first-generation Panamera that was unveiled in 2009.
Porsche said that if the Cayenne convertible was pursued further, obviously a single rear design would have been chosen, and the technical issues would have been resolved.
The German sports car automaker didn’t pursue the convertible idea further because there were “doubts” about whether the car would be profitable and look as “appealing as a Porsche should”.
Other automakers have previously had a similar idea and actually produced SUV-based convertibles: coming to mind are the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, Range Rover Evoque Convertible, and the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet.
“An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally,” said Porsche chief designer Michael Mauer.
“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.”
In addition to this convertible prototype, Porsche says it also “considered” two other Cayenne-based prototypes including a stretched version with a third row of seats, and a coupe version.
The so-called ‘coupe’ version of the Cayenne eventually made it into production in 2019 and has been on sale alongside the regular wagon body style ever since.
What do you think of this Cayenne convertible prototype? Let us know in the comments.