Although some executives previously questioned the need for a second SUV, Porsche's Cajun SUV -- a baby Cayenne, so to speak -- has officially received the green light for production.
Earlier today, Porsche's supervisory board voted in Stuttgart to widen the company's product portfolio, starting with an SUV model slotting in beneath the larger Cayenne model. That's a bit of a turnaround from remarks made by new CEO Mathias Muller earlier this year. At the time, Muller wasn't completely sold on the idea of endlessly expanding Porsche's portfolio, and placed new programs on hold until a solid business case could be established without sacrificing Porsche's premium image.
We'll have to assume the second criterion has been met, but it's hard to argue another SUV model doesn't make sense for the company. Although purists bemoan a sports car manufacturer producing vehicles like the Panamera and Cayenne, such vehicles significantly help bolster the company's bottom line. Presently, the Cayenne is Porsche's best-selling model (especially in North America), and a smaller SUV could help the company reach its annual sales goal of 150,000 vehicles sold worldwide by 2013. Early estimates suggest Porsche could move roughly 50,000 examples of the new SUV on an annual basis.
Like the larger Cayenne, the new Porsche SUV will share its architecture with other Volkswagen Group products. In this instance, the Cajun will be built upon the Audi Q5's platform, although Porsche's take will likely carry a sleek shape with a wider stance. We hear both two- and four-door versions are under consideration; Audi executives are pushing for a two-door model to avoid cannibalizing Q5 sales, but Porsche leaders are looking for the sales volumes associated with a traditional four-door model.
The Cajun will likely utilize Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, but Porsche may supply most -- if not all -- of the engines fitted underhood. Base models will reportedly receive a 3.0-liter V-6, producing nearly 290 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. A Cajun Turbo S model would reportedly bolt a pair of turbochargers on the same engine, boosting its output by roughly 50 horsepower. A diesel V-6 is also likely to be added to appease European consumers, but it could also make its way to North America.
Timing, pricing, and even the finalized model name, however, are still up in the air. We wouldn't be surprised to see the baby Porsche SUV priced between the Q5 ($35,550) and the Cayenne ($46,700), and launch in late 2011 or early 2012. Although officials have previously referred to the vehicle as the Cajun, Porsche notes the name is simply a working title, and may change before reaching production.