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Q&A: Porsche’s Top Execs by TCC Team (1/27/2003)
The chief executive and chief designer in charge of the Cayenne step into controversy.
Remember your teacher making a fuss whenever you started coloring outside the lines? Well, these days, that seems to be precisely the requirement for an automotive designer. Nobody wants just a sedan, an SUV or even, it seems, a sports car any more. Instead, they’re demanding so-called crossover vehicles that don’t fit into any of the traditional product boundaries.
2003 Porsche CayenneThat may make perfect sense if you’re
trying to gussy up a minivan with sport-ute attributes and extend its appeal
beyond soccer moms, or to improve the driveability and mileage of a ute by
mounting it on a sedan platform. So perhaps it was natural Porsche would try to
do something similar to extend the appeal of its trademark sports cars.
2003 Porsche CayenneEnlarge Photo
A decade ago, the German automaker gave serious thought to a four-door sports sedan. While it dropped the project, it didn’t dismiss the idea of drawing outside the lines. And a few years ago, design chief Harm Lagaay went back to the drawing boards, this time with the idea of tapping into the booming market for sport-utility vehicles.
Porsche pulled the wraps off the project last September, when the new Cayenne made its formal debut at the Paris Motor Show. To say this sports car/sport-ute hybrid is controversial would be like calling a 911 quick. The Cayenne’s generated more debate than just about any automobile in decades. To judge for ourselves, TheCarConnection went along for the ride at the first Cayenne road test outside Barcelona, Spain.