A Cayenne convertible concept car pictured in an underground garage
This Cayenne convertible concept was bold and ambitious but not put into production

Cayenne convertible concept

At the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart lives a very rare Porsche Cayenne indeed – a one-off convertible concept. Created shortly after the launch of the first-generation car in December 2002, the Cayenne convertible was conceived as part of a study to investigate different body shapes for the pioneering SUV. However, Porsche soon decided against releasing a production version of the Cayenne convertible. As Michael Mauer, chief designer at Porsche, said recently: “An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally. 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.”

 

Two Porsche Cayenne SUVs driving side by side on road
Pioneering from the start, the Cayenne was the first Porsche with air suspension

Porsche Cayenne: the first Porsche with air suspension

Twenty years is a long time in automotive technology terms. And even back then, when the first-generation Porsche Cayenne was launched, the gamechanging SUV was breaking new ground for the brand. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) was first introduced with the Cayenne, which has gone on to be a popular feature across the range. Back then, the Cayenne Turbo S had air suspension as standard, which cleverly worked out the best ride dynamics based on road surface and driving style. It also helped the Cayenne master off-road terrain with aplomb thanks to greater ground clearance.

Close-up of Porsche Cayenne plug-in hybrid
Launched in 2014, the Cayenne pioneered plug-in hybrid tech in the premium SUV segment

Porsche Cayenne was the first plug-in hybrid premium SUV

Building on the success of the Cayenne S Hybrid in 2010, Porsche launched a plug-in hybrid version four years later that had an all-electric range of between 18 to 36km. This meant, for the first time, Cayenne owners could travel with zero emissions for parts of their journeys. It also marked the first occasion that plug-in hybrid technology had been used in the premium SUV segment, and meant that as far back as eight years ago Porsche had three models – the Panamera, Cayenne and 718 Spyder – that could be plugged in.

A Porsche Cayenne driving across a bridge
There are few greater tests of a car’s prowess than driving the Transsyberian Rally

The Cayenne won numerous Transsyberian rallies

Venturing into the unknown, the Porsche Cayenne proved its off-road, go-anywhere credentials the hard way – on the gruelling Transsyberian Rally. Back in 2006, two Cayenne S SUVs entered the 10,000km event and took victory. Amazingly, the cars received only minor adjustments to tackle the arduous route from Moscow to Lake Baikal in Siberia. It was a feat that was repeated in 2007, this time with an all-Cayenne podium, and once again in 2008 when only one car in the top 10 was not a Cayenne. To celebrate these victories, Porsche released a special edition model to the public in 2009.

Porsche Cayenne towing an Airbus A380 aeroplane
Can a Cayenne tow? You bet it can

Cayenne earns a Guinness World Record for towing the world’s heaviest plane

We often get asked if a Porsche Cayenne can tow a caravan, a trailer or a boat. But a plane? To show just how capable the Cayenne is as a tow car, a Turbo S model was hitched up to a 285-ton Air France Airbus A380, the world’s heaviest passenger aircraft. It effortlessly hauled the behemoth for 42 metres out of the hangar and across the apron at Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport. In doing so, Porsche earned a Guinness World Record for the challenge in 2017 – and proved that the Cayenne is indeed an excellent tow car.

Porsche Cayenne coupe driving on the Nürburgring
A Porsche Cayenne coupe earned a record at the Nürburgring

Sub eight-minute Nürburgring time

Sub 10-minute lap times of the Nürburgring are more often than not reserved for lightweight, focused sports cars. In 2021, the new Cayenne Turbo GT successfully challenged that theory when it sprinted around the 20.832km-long Nürburgring-Nordschleife in just 7min 38.9sec. It was a time that was quick enough for the car to set an official new record in the ‘SUVs, off-road vehicles, vans and pick-ups’ category.

904 Carrera GTS and Porsche Cayenne side-by-side
A Cayenne GTS Coupe and its forebear, the 904 Carrera GTS

Porsche Cayenne – the first modern GTS Porsche

Three letters, but so much meaning. GTS (or Gran Turismo Sport) has become synonymous with performance-oriented Porsche cars and it all started with the car you see pictured on the left immediately above – the 904 Carrera GTS – following its victorious win at the Targa Florio. The GTS badge was used for a few years after, before being resigned to history. However, after a hiatus, the GTS name was revived with the Cayenne GTS, an SUV that turned the genre on its head. Today, the GTS badge adorns many Porsche models, all with the same performance-focused mindset.

 

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