Porsche today let slip two morsels of news that had been widely expected for some time. The company will launch its Cajun small SUV in the U.S. by 2013, and also will launch a diesel version of the Cayenne in 2012.
Purists may cry foul at the idea of another SUV and Porsche’s first diesel vehicle in the U.S., but such models are important to the brand’s survival. The Cayenne has bolstered Porsche’s bottom line and is the company’s hottest-selling product; profits from that help fund other projects like the 911, Cayman, Boxster, and so on. Porsche sold 12,978 Cayennes here in 2011, compared to just 6016 copies of the 911 sports car.
The Porsche Cajun is based on the Audi Q5, and will likely offer a 235-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 cribbed from the Audi/Volkswagen engine range. The top-spec Cajun might score a Porsche-developed, twin-turbo V-6 producing as much as 350 hp. An all-wheel-drive system based on Audi’s Quattro driveline will be standard.
Porsche has invested over €500 million ($691 million) to build the Cajun at its plant in Leipzig, Germany, and will position the new model against the Range Rover Evoque. Porsche hopes the Cajun will attract younger, less affluent buyers to the brand for the first time.
The announcement that Porsche will bring a Cayenne diesel to our market also makes sense, as it will help the company improve its average fuel economy rating. There’s no more information on the model yet, but we can expect it to use a similar engine to the Euro-market Cayenne diesel: a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 240 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. Porsche says the European Cayenne diesel (pictured) can reach 62 mph from rest in 7.8 seconds while returning the equivalent of 32 mpg combined. The oil-burning Cayenne will join the Panamera and Cayenne Hybrids in Porsche’s hopes to bring up its fuel economy numbers in the U.S.
In total, Porsche sold 29,023 vehicles in the U.S. in 2011, and hopes to sell over 30,000 this year. The company also reiterated that the Panamera GTS goes on sale in spring 2012, and that the 2012 Porsche 911 Cabriolet will be unveiled to the public at the Detroit auto show later this month.