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Porsche locks in sub-Cayenne SUV

Spice rack: Porsche is likely to continue the spicy naming convention as it expands its SUV line-up.

Roxster out, Cajun in as Porsche plans an all-new mid-size luxury SUV

Porsche logo30 Sep 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

PORSCHE appears to have confirmed it will produce an all-new mid-size luxury SUV to be positioned beneath the controversial Cayenne – and it could be called the Cajun.

The German sportscar brand has long toyed with the idea of using the platform of Audi’s popular Q5 to develop a smaller sibling for its Cayenne – which has become the backbone of its sales volume in recent years – just as the original Cayenne shared its platform with Audi’s Q7 and the Touareg from its new parent company, Volkswagen.

25 center imageFrom top: Audi Q5, Porsche 918 Spyder, Porsche Panamera.

Now, however, Volkswagen CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn has told German newspaper Der Spiegel that the Porsche line-up will be joined by “a new SUV, a smaller brother to the Cayenne, which might be called Cajun”.

While the nameplate would follow the Cayenne’s lead by being a type of spice starting with the letter ‘c’ and is clearly part of Volkswagen’s drive for Porsche to reach 150,000 annual sales by as early as 2012, the move is at odds with Porsche’s consistent, categorical denials it would build a smaller SUV than the Cayenne.

Speculation of a sub-Cayenne SUV began well before Porsche registered the ‘Roxster’ trademark in 2007 and, after its takeover by Volkswagen, Porsche said platform sharing with the German giant and its various brands was appropriate only if Porsche led the development.

Apart from the Cayenne-Q7-Touareg and Q5-Cajun, another platform-sharing example previously alluded to by Dr Winterkorn was a sub-Boxster roadster based on the mid-engined Volkswagen BlueSport convertible concept, which could also spawn an Audi version called the R4 to sit below the R8 supercar.

However, senior Porsche executives have previously told GoAuto they would not follow Audi’s SUV product lead because the Q5 had cannibalised sales of the Q7.

Nevertheless, European reports suggest the Cajun will go on sale in Germany by late 2014 or early 2015, by which time Porsche will have released a third-generation Boxster convertible, second-generation Cayman coupe and a redesigned 911 range.

The head-turning new 911 Speedster limited-edition and similarly powerful new 911 GTS Coupe and Cabriolet variants are expected to complete the current 997-series 911 model rollout when they debut at this week’s Paris motor show on September 30 – a day before Matthias Müller takes over from Michael Macht as Porsche AG chairman.

Mr Müller was the previous head of product planning, product management and model ranges for the Volkswagen brand and the VW Group, which hopes to overtake Toyota as the world’s largest car-maker by selling 10 million vehicles a year by 2018, while Macht will join the Volkswagen AG board with direct responsibility for Group Production from October 1.

Porsche recently confirmed the ground-breaking 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar will enter limited production as a spiritual successor the Carrera GT, and is also believed to be developing coupe and perhaps convertible versions of the four-door Panamera grand tourer.

Both the Panamera and Cayenne were instrumental in the record financial turnover reported by Porsche on September 29 for its fiscal year ending July 31, 2010.

Porsche says preliminary figures show that with turnover growth of 17.9 per cent to 7.79 billion euros, Porsche achieved the highest turnover in its history, while sales also increased by 8.8 per cent, from 75,238 to 81,850, which remains well short of the near-100,000 figure Porsche achieved before the global financial crisis.

“The record turnover dramatically demonstrates that Porsche has regained its former strength,” said Mr Macht. “Porsche will also follow up the positive trend in the current business year.” The Cayenne remained the top-selling model in Porsche’s latest (2009/10) business year, but sales declined by 12.9 per cent to 29,855, with the second-generation Cayenne attracting 11,618 sales since its May release (June in Australia).

Launched globally in September 2009, the Panamera was Porsche’s second best selling model with 20,615 sales, reaching its 12-month sales target in less than a year, while 911 sales fell some 27.4 per cent to 19,663 and Boxster/Cayman sales slumped 10.8 per cent to 11,717 – including 6865 Boxsters and 4852 Caymans.

By region, Porsche sales grew most in China (up 47.5 per cent to 11,724) and also increased in North America (up four per cent to 23,705) and Europe (up 1.4 per cent to 30,948), but fell in Germany – by 3.5 per cent to 11,857.

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