10 years later: How Porsche’s first SUV has aged
According to recent figures released by Porsche, the car company posted its best sales month in the United States since entering the market more than 60 years ago. In January, the marque, which for a long time only built sport coupes, sold roughly 3,358 automobiles compared to 2,550 over the same month in 2012.
What's most notable about these figures is the fact that the best-selling model in the brand's lineup was the Cayenne – an SUV that shares its platform and most of its underpinnings with its parent company's flagship truck, the Volkswagen Touareg.
When the Cayenne originally hit the market in 2003, it shook a lot of feathers among auto critics and Porsche purists. Not only was this the first Porsche to be sold in the United States that sat five individuals comfortably, it was also the first Porsche to feature a V8 engine since the company discontinued the 928 coupe in 1995.
Although the Cayenne was unlike any vehicle ever produced by the brand, it was still a massive sales success for the company, which at one point was the fastest growing nameplate on the market at the beginning of the new millennium. Thanks to pleasing styling that captured the compact, sporty look of the company's coupes mixed with beefy tires and an aggressive stance that made it at least appear utilitarian, the Cayenne was a smooth transition vehicle for the company into the mainstream.
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the trajectory of Porsche over the past several decades that the Cayenne was a success if you really take Porsche's demographic into consideration. While the cars are undoubtedly fast and great performance cars, they have for years appealed almost exclusively to the 40-plus crowd. Everyone has heard a joke that incorporates Porsches either with a mid-life crisis or a dumb blonde – though these are hardly descriptors for the vast majority of Porsche owners. But richer, older people are also the ones who have made foreign luxury SUVs such a hot commodity over the past 10 years, and many individuals who own one also have a Carrera or a 911 in their stable.
One thing that sets the Cayenne apart from other SUVs is the fact that it is a pure performance vehicle. While this car has four-wheel drive, you'd be crazy to take it off the pavement simply because it is a pretty rad street machine. The first-generation Cayenne S, for example, could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 7.1 seconds with a top speed of 150 mph, while the turbo model featured a 4.5-liter V8 that mastered the feat in five seconds flat.
After 10 years in production, the Cayenne has proven to be only the first step in Porsche's transformation into a carmaker with a full lineup without losing any street cred in the process – in fact, they may even be a cooler brand now than ever. In 2009, they unveiled a full-sized four-door luxury sedan, the Panamera, which was an immediate sales success, besting every other car in the Porsche stable in terms of sales.
Where do you see Porsche headed in the future, and do you think the company's performance coupes will suffer going forward? Leave your thoughts below: