Porsche dusts off the 2002 Cayenne Cabriolet that never was

It's one of three alternate body styles considered for the SUV

2002 Porsche Cayenne Convertible concept
2002 Porsche Cayenne Convertible concept
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Porsche added a second body style to the Cayenne lineup when it launched the Coupe variant of the third-generation model for 2020, but the idea of expanding the range is as old as the SUV itself. The company shed light on a convertible that could have made it to production.

Introduced in December 2002, the original Cayenne was exclusively offered as a four-door SUV. Executives considered three additional body styles: a coupe, a three-row model extended by eight inches, and a convertible. While the trio were ultimately canned, Porsche built a life-sized model of the droptop so that its designers could check whether the body style was comfortable and practical, play around with different top options, and settle on a rear-end design. This explains why the back end is fitted with two distinctly different looks.

Visually, the Cayenne Cabriolet looks close to the regular-production SUV when viewed from the front. It's a different story from the side: It has two doors, and it's fitted with a black soft top designed to fold into the trunk thanks to a mechanism similar to the one fitted to the 911 Targa. Out back, well ... it depends on which angle you're viewing it from. The driver side is more 911-like, while the passenger side is more angular and SUV-like. Most of the interior parts ahead of the driver are standard Cayenne bits, like the three-spoke steering wheel.

Porsche explains that it canceled the Cayenne Cabriolet because it couldn't make a favorable business case for the model. Design-related concerns also played a role in the model's demise, however.

"An SUV as a convertible is a challenge both aesthetically and formally. An SUV always has a large and heavy body. You combine this with a small top half and then cut off the roof — you get very strange shapes emerging from that," said Porsche head designer Michael Mauer.

Interestingly, the Cayenne Cabriolet isn't the only oddball in Porsche's archives. It nearly built a minivan in the 1990s, and the Renndienst concept van, below, was an intriguing look.

Porsche Renndienst prototype
Porsche Renndienst prototype
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