Porsche just unveiled the new 911 GT3 RS and, man, it’s hard to care anymore. It’s just yet another fast, track-focused 911 with no manual. Same old, same old. What Porsche needs is something new. It needs something exciting. It needs a fast off-road Cayenne.
I’m genuinely surprised that Porsche has left this market alone. American carmakers finally cracked the code on beating German luxury cars and they’re doing it with SUVs and trucks.
And American carmakers have innovated with performance versions, too, of the ever-hotter SUV and truck market. The Raptor has become the unofficial performance luxury car of lower Manhattan here, like a gigantic BMW M5 that you can write off to your construction company.
What’s more, European luxury carmakers have been amping up the realm of on-road performance to untenable heights. The Bentley Bentayga, built off of the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne, will always make more power than it just because it’s the big Bentley and the Volkswagen empire has to justify its price. It makes 600 horsepower out of a twin-turbo W12. Porsche is never going to outdo that.
What Porsche needs is something to distance itself from the new Mercedes G-Class, the new Land Rovers, BMW X-SUVs and everyone else crowding the market like Rolls Royce and Lamborghini. What Porsche needs is to go off road. It needs an off road performance version.
Luckily for Porsche, it has some heritage with this. (I imagine that Porsche will only approve of a project if it can give an hour-long presentation about the importance of tradition, and trot out Walter Röhrl to talk about precision or something.)
Porsche ran Cayennes in the TransSiberia Rally back in ‘07-’10 and made a production version to go along with it, as Road and Track reported when it was new:
Standard front and rear skid plates, made of stainless steel, protect the Cayenne’s underbody and give it a rugged off-road look, as do graphics and roof lights that are a no-cost option on models not equipped with the optional moonroof. For those who really do plan serious off-roading, an optional off-road package is a must. It includes a variable locking rear differential, rock rails, a reinforced engine-bay guard and additional protection for the fuel tank and rear axle. There’s also an extra towing lug for those rare times this Cayenne might ever get stuck.
You also got rally lights on the roof. Can’t go wrong with rally lights.
I know what you’re thinking. Hey, dingus, Porsche already tried this idea and nobody liked it. Everyone thinks you’re a moron. We are all laughing at you. Hold on. Stop throwing things. You see, there were some problems with this vehicle, wrongs that Porsche can easily right.
1. It was taller, but it wasn’t wider, so it didn’t look cool as hell.
2. It was no faster than a non-TransSiberia Cayenne.
3. Siberia is not exactly the most alluring exotic locale.
4. It was unbelievably ugly from stock.
If you follow the precedent set by the much more successful Ford F-150 Raptor, the formula looks a lot easier:
1. Make it taller, but also give it a beefy widebody kit.
2. Give it more power than all the other models in the range.
3. At least keep it moderately handsome.
This is all doable! The current Cayenne looks fine, and it would look extra fine if it had a super widebody kit to help along with some long-travel suspension, all the better to crest the dunes outside of Dubai or Pismo Beach.
Throw some Reigers at each corner—or even double Reigers at each corner—and you’ll have a very, very serious car for going fast off road.
Seriously, it doesn’t take much. I’ve soared through the air in a Nissan Patrol in the UAE desert and that didn’t have much to it other than, yeah, some cut-down bumpers, Braid wheels, off-road tires and some Reigers. They’re expensive shocks, but they work well and look good. Porsche could even offer to paint your brake calipers in matching purple for an extra grand. The marketing people would love that.
Porsche could easily even drop the top performance version of the Cayenne as it stands today and dedicate it to this off-road version. The Turbo S makes 570 horsepower at the moment, and the hybrid version of that twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 powerplant makes 680 in the Panamera. That could be you, Cayenne.
All that this Cayenne would need is a name. I would go with Dakar (in honor of Porsche’s 959 campaign there), though I have a sneaking suspicion that Porsche would rather put some tartan cloth on the seats and call the thing a Safari. Either way, you can’t lose.