Forget heritage, this is a business we're talking about.
Porsche broke the internet this week when rumors surfaced of the company building a three-row SUV to round out its lineup of sports cars, supercars, and convertibles. Enthusiasts whined loudly on Twitter about an enthusiast company building a porky people hauler when all it needs is more station wagons.
But Porsche is in the business of making money, which allows for several reasons to add something like this to its stable. People flamed the Boxster when it first came out, as well as the Porsche Cayenne, both of which helped save the company whose main vehicle was a near exotic. With that in mind, here are the reasons Porsche building a three-row makes perfect sense.
Porsche, being part of the VW Group, has the capability to build a larger SUV. Both Audi and VW have three-row vehicles, so it could easily and relatively cheaply get set on the MQB chassis that they share. And that's a good platform. The VW Atlas doesn't blow us away as enthusiasts, but it does feel solid, competent, and comfortable under both vehicles. It might also be worked to use one of the group's upcoming Project Artemis platforms. And we've seen what tuners can do with the RS Q8.
Its customers too might be looking for a little extra bandwidth, to travel, to bring the kids or grandkids along, to tour the country. And one who owns a 911 probably already has, or at least is looking for, a second, more utilitarian vehicle too. If Porsche can put one of those in their garage, all the better.
We can all agree that Porsche knows how to make good vehicles. It makes a good coupe; it makes a good convertible. The Macan crossover is like 7/10ths of a 911 - yeah we said it. It's really fun to drive. And Porsche's Cayenne is pretty good too, for a midsize SUV. It feels much lighter than its 5,000-pound curb weight would suggest.
Porsche knows how to spring a vehicle too, even a larger one. The Cayenne's independent setup is made from aluminum and with PASM (Porsche Active Stability Management), it changes direction aggressively and without much body roll. It does this and somehow is also compliant over the roughest roads imaginable.
Porsche isn't going to build a Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator competitor. It's going to build a Madza CX-9, VW Atlas, Subaru Ascent-sized SUV. That means it won't wallow around in the corners or stand up on its front end when braking. And many of these three rows, like the ones we mentioned, don't have a huge cargo area behind the third row. Usually if you're packing that many people you won't have room for stuff anyway.
Add in a little rear-wheel steering, which effectively shortens the wheelbase of a car, and it probably won't feel much bigger than a Cayenne anyway. In fact, it wouldn't need to even be much bigger in the real world to add an extra row of seats. We hate to say this, but Porsche could even call it something like Cayenne L or Cayenne Extra.
This is an easy one. Porsche has several engines that could power a medium-sized three-row. It could take the V6 turbo from the base Cayenne, which makes 340 horsepower. That would be plenty to move around a CX-9-sized vehicle. The twin-turbo V6 from the Cayenne S would work too - that makes 440 hp and would probably feel a little sporty.
We expect a range of trims like GTS, E-Hybrid and Turbo too, whether it has an ICE, electric, or hybrid powertrain. The company's E-Hybrid combo, which we love in the Cayenne and Panamera, brings 462 semi-efficient horses to play. And we can go up from there with either V8s or Taycan-type powertrains. We've heard the first version will be ICE or hybrid; an EV might come later.
If you were going to say something about the soul of the company or heritage, we'll have to respectfully disagree. There may have been a time when companies based all of their decisions on it, but that time has passed. We're in a global economy now, and every extra unit an automaker can move is a good unit to produce.
And since Porsche sells every car it makes, quickly, there's no reason to think adding another way to be an owner would change that. Plus, the people who can afford a Porsche can probably also afford a boat, a big one. And the 7,700-pound towing capacity of the Cayenne might not be enough to pull it. If you can make cars for everyone, and sell them, it would be foolish not to.