Feast your eyes on the Porsche Cayenne convertible that could have been


Porsche purists may well have protested when the company launched the Cayenne in 2002, but it could have been so much worse. During development of its first SUV the German sports car maker seriously considered producing an ungainly, Murano-CrossCab-esque drop-top.

With two elongated doors and a humpback tail that would swallow the folding roof, like a 911 Targa, the car thankfully never made it past the concept stage. As the Cayenne celebrates 20 years on sale, Porsche has lifted the lid on the canned convertible.

Although a two-door car might have been more in keeping with the brand’s history, making one that one was both practical and desirable proved impossible. The extended doors were cumbersome, the whole rear end was awkward despite designers producing two different schemes, and the convertible mechanism was so complex it never made it beyond the computer simulation stage.

Looking back at the concept, Porsche’s current chief designer Michael Mauer (who can’t be blamed as he wasn’t in the job in 2002) says, “An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally. 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.”

Alongside the doomed drop head Porsche also worked on a longer wheelbase seven-seater and a coupe, which also failed to reach production. “Forecasts regarding profitability were not particularly promising and doubts remained as to whether the car would look as appealing as a Porsche should,” says a Porsche statement.

The more conventional Cayenne was an immediate hit, and, together with the smaller Macan SUV, it continues to make up the lion’s share of Porsche sales worldwide.

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