Deep Dive: Porsche Cajun Crossover

Under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group, Porsche is about to kickoff a new era. Led by the former senior corporate product planner, Michael Muller, the firm intends to grow from 81,000 cars in the 2009/2010 fiscal year to at least 150,000 units in 2013.

The first all-new model to come from the new leadership is known as Cajun, short for Cayenne junior. Every bit as spicy as its bigger brother, the crossover is scheduled to go into production in spring 2013. The sporty crossover is based on the Audi Q5. Audi would reportedly prefer that Porsche concentrate on a more dynamic two-door hatchback version, but Porsche claims that it needs the volume generated by the four-door model.

While the old Porsche regime under Wendelin Wiedeking feared that a smaller SUV would cannibalize the profitable Cayenne, Muller & Co. view the car as a potential cash cow, and they project volume as high as 50,000 units a year. According to the still-provisional launch plan, we shall first see the four-door (referred to as a four-door coupe, a la BMW X6 and Acura ZDX) and then in late 2014 a two-door version based on a shortened platform.

The Cajun will be dimensionally similar to the Q5, albeit slightly lower, shorter, and wider. What really differentiates the vehicle’s stance are the wider nineteen- and twenty-inch wheels. All exterior and interior panels will be styled from scratch, but the windshield angle, the firewall, and the roof pillars have to remain as they are. To ensure a sports car-like driving position, the Cajun receives its own seats, a less steeply raked steering column, and the dashboard of the upcoming Boxster, complete with Porsche’s traditional offset ignition lock. The substantial center stack rises at an angle, Panamera-style. Although the base model is a four-seater, seating for five will be available as an option.

Along with the body structure of the Q5, the Porsche Cajun will carry over the Audi’s chassis, steering, axles, and Quattro drivetrain. Power will come from a 3.0-liter V-6, pumped up to about 290 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. There’s a good chance that the Americans will receive the turbo-diesel V-6, too.

In addition, there is a Cajun Turbo S in the works. It features Porsche’s own twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 350 hp. Porsche-specific tweaks include the Sport Chrono pack with launch control, stronger brakes with optional carbon-ceramic discs, wheels and tires, and a complete exhaust system including a switchable free-flow sport muffler.

In an ideal world, the crossover would be built in Ingolstadt alongside the Q5. But since the Bavarian plant is already running at 105 percent capacity, alternatives like Hannover (which builds VW light trucks and the Panamera) and Leipzig (home of the Cayenne) are still under discussion. Pricing is expected to exceed the upcoming face-lifted Q5 by about 15 percent.

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