I get an odd feeling every time I see a Porsche Cayenne. The badge still commands my respect because... it's a Porsche. But the vehicle itself is a different story.When Mercedes-Benz built the first M-Class SUV in 1998, it was an exciting addition to its lineup. Benz was known for building solid vault-like cars, but an SUV wasn't a stretch. When BMW introduced its X5 SUV (yes, it's Sports Activity Vehicle or SAV, but we know what it really is) in 1999, people started to get alarmed. BMWs are sporty vehicles, designed to emphasize handling and the driving experience; those characteristics are not in an SUV's DNA. But BMW vindicated itself by successfully building an SUV that was still sporty to drive despite its compromised vehicle form. When Porsche announced that it was jumping on the German SUV bandwagon with the Cayenne in 2002, some thought it was an April Fool's joke. You say Porsche and you think of 911s and mid-engined Boxsters and track days and mountain roads. A Porsche SUV is just an obvious ploy for more profit. So while I admire the Cayenne and the fact that Porsche actually did the improbable, I see a compromised product. A product not designed for speed or track accuracy, but so that fathers experiencing a midlife crisis can justify buying a Porsche to their wives. It even looks compromised, like the bastard child of a 911 and a Volkswagen Touareg.
A Russian company named Status Design has created a version of the Cayenne that attempts to address the issue of its beauty.
(Images from the Porsche media site and Status Design.)