Behold the Porsche Cayenne Convertible

20 years ago Porsche made a one-off, drop-top SUV; brace yourselves for a look around…

By Matt Bird / Thursday, 4 August 2022 / Loading comments

Given the current fascination with all things raised ride height, another drop-top SUV wouldn’t be the strangest thing in the world. Sure, it’s hardly the most popular vehicle niche out there, but after the Nissan Murano, Range Rover Evoque and VW T-Roc – which is still on sale, don’t forget – another wouldn’t be headline-grabbing news. It’d ruffle a few feathers, yeah, but nothing is really sacred when it comes to cars anymore. An electric one would even allow all the compliments from passers-by to be heard…

However, an Porsche Cayenne Convertible would surely have ruffled a few feathers. This car really is an officially sanctioned Porsche concept, too, first conjured up 20 years ago when a long wheelbase and coupe version of the original were also plotted. It would take 17 years after then for the Cayenne Coupe to become a reality, and the long-wheelbase still hasn’t, which shows just how adventurous these ideas were for the early 2000s. It can be easy to forget that the very notion of a Porsche 4×4 was contentious back then, leave alone alternative bodystyles.

Yet a cabrio concept was given the go-ahead – or a Package Function Model (PFM) at least. So it previewed this bizarre look, including the two enormous doors (but with back seats) and a pair of rear light designs, though didn’t add any strengthening, which meant it couldn’t be driven anywhere. Or get out of your field of vision. Roof up and in profile the origins of the Coupe can be seen, and it isn’t terrible, but roof down – with that rear deck like a camel’s hump and the Two-Face rear end – really is quite bad. The plan was for it to have a Targa-style roof that opened in both directions, however the concept had to make do with this arrangement while the designers argued about it. 

Even Porsche can’t quite see this as a cool concept that should have made it. “An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally,” said Michael Mauer, currently Porsche’s Chief Designer but not with the company in 2002. “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.” Which is the polite version, presumably. The Cayenne Convertible PFM now lives in a basement in the Porsche Museum, should you want to scare the children over the holidays. We look forward to seeing what else is lurking in there come the next big anniversary…

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