The Bizarre Porsche Cayenne That Was Never Actually Made

Wacky design experiments and the craft of car-making go hand in hand. But occasionally, in the world of creative thinking, things can fall into the downright bizarre category. The engineers at German brand Porsche had something similar off-key in mind when they set out to diversify the Cayenne line shortly after the company's first SUV hit the road. The product of those endeavors? A one-off convertible based on the Cayenne that actually had a real unit made but never entered mass production.

Convertibles are essentially retractable roof versions of a coupe. Carrying over that DNA to an SUV, especially one with a strong road presence, high ground clearance, and much-longer-than-usual profile, sounds outlandish. And yet, Porsche made one with a retractable soft-top roof system. Now, this wasn't a road-ready model and had to be transported everywhere, something Porsche calls a Package Function Model unit (via Porsche). The roof design, which was hooked to the luggage compartment lid, eventually made its way to the Porsche 911 Targa.

Back then, the actual roof mechanism was still in the computer simulation stage and still needed to be fitted manually for showing. Otherwise, it is stored comfortably in the luggage compartment. Interestingly, Porsche had two other Cayenne modifications in mind when it started dreaming about a convertible. One of them was a coupe, while the other idea was an even bigger SUV with 20 centimeters added to the Cayenne's length. None of them made it past the concept stage (via Porsche).

Impractical, non-marketable, and odd

Porsche's engineers eventually came up with two designs for the Cayenne-PMF, both of which varied predominantly over the tail light. But ultimately, the entire idea was canned. With the Cayenne-PFM convertible idea, Porsche originally set to answer four key questions:

  1. If the windscreen and A-pillars are reduced, and the roof tapers over the rear half, would the car still offer a comfortable seating experience?
  2. If the Cayenne's doors are elongated by 20 centimeters and it is offered as a two-door model, does it make sense from a practical standpoint?
  3. Is it possible to accommodate a quick-folding soft-top roof that also meets Porsche's standards for quality and design?
  4. And the most important question of them all: How the rear should look?

Michael Mauer, Chief Designer at Porsche, remarked that "an SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally." Mauer, who wasn't a part of Porsche back then, added that "very strange shapes" emerge when an SUV's bulky body is amalgamated with a convertible's smaller, open-roof looks (per Porshe). However, it was not the just aesthetic and practical failures that put the Cayenne convertible plans on cold ice. 

"Forecasts regarding profitability were not particularly promising and doubts remained as to whether the car would look as appealing as a Porsche should," says the official blog marking the 20th anniversary of Porsche's venture into the SUV segment. As for the one-off Cayenne-PMF convertible unit, it lives on at the Porsche Museum in Germany's Stuttgart.