What? A Porsche Pickup?
August 2002

If you are astonished by Porsche's entering into 4x4 market, you will find this news even more astonishing: as reported by Autocar, Porsche is now considering to build a pickup version of Cayenne. 

Although this may not really come true, it let us rethink how wide the product range of a premium sports car brand can extend to. You may joke that Lamborghini also built tractors, while many trucks wear 3-pointed-star logos, but talk seriously, will you accept a Ferrari MPV, even if it were designed by Pininfarina, powered by a V12 and thoroughly tested by Michael Schumacher (and his dog)? 

If no, why did Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking insist to build Cayenne, the first ever SUV for Porsche? would Ferry Porsche approve that if he were still alive? will Cayenne attract wider audience to Porsche, or ruin its image as a focused sports car maker established in 4 decades? I cannot imagine how a 911 and a Boxster park beside a 2.4-ton, 1.7-meter tall, boxy-shaped Cayenne and seen as a family.

The identity of Cayenne is also embarrassed by its close relationship with Volkswagen Toureg. Both share the same chassis, 4-wheel-drive system and air suspensions. To make things worse, the Porsche will source a couple of engines from Volkswagen: the 3.2-litre VR6 and, more disgusting, Audi’s 4.0 turbo diesel V8!! this will be the first ever diesel Porsche! 

History tell us the partnership between Porsche and Volkswagen usually resulted in failure. If you remember, 914 was a joint venture between the 2 companies and, unfortunately, it was also the least successful Porsche ever. The original 924 was also a joint venture, being built in Audi’s plant using Audi’s engine and running gear, and the suspensions from Golf. It was also not very well received by the market. When Porsche redeveloped it into 944, used its own engine and built it in Zuffenhausen, the car immediately became a star. Now Cayenne even has a close sister wearing a Volkswagen badge, how can its identity not be confused?

Wiedeking’s fortune will depend on Cayenne. If the latter fail, he will be fully responsible. To be honest, although he was praised by the industry as saving Porsche from bankruptcy and turning it into the most profitable car maker, I am not convinced with some of his decisions. Cayenne is one of them, others are:

- Stopped participating in high-level motor racing such as Le Mans. He forgot that Porsche’s heritage was established in racing circuits.

- Always refused to build high-performance version of Boxster. Now this market has been lost to Mercedes SLK32 AMG and BMW M Coupe. At the same time, Boxster’s sales in the USA slowed down to the extent that dealers have to offer incentives to clear stock.

- 2 generations of forgettable Porsche GT1 road car. By the way, do you remember them?

- Decision to build the Carrera GT supercar at a time Ferrari Enzo is launched. It will be remembered as a car eclipsed by the Enzo in every aspect. The Carrera GT is halfhearted, because it is actually built around an already finished V10 engine for an abandoned Le Mans racer. Seems like Wiedeking doesn’t want to waste the money spent to the V10 program thus find some millionaires to swallow it. It won’t be a new-age 959.

So, good luck Mr. Wiedeking! if Cayenne fail to attract American, I would suggest Mr. Wiedeking to consider pump up its V8 to 7 litres, convert it to push-rod, add a big ram-air device on bonnet to block half of the driver’s view, source a 4-speed automatic gearbox from GM’s truck division (it will also be cheaper than ZF’s), add some fake wood decoration on the side body panels while employing plastic dashboard in the same quality as Mattel’s toys. That will definitely attract even wider audience. Come on, everybody, you can own a Porsche. Just contact your nearest supermarket dealers to have a test drive!

Mark Wan

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