How Porsche Designed The Second Generation Cayenne

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The second-gen Cayenne lost its transfer case, and 245 pounds.

The first-generation Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg were developed side-by-side, which meant there were some boundaries. Even though Porsche went out of its way to make the Cayenne a unique product, the relationship was apparent when you looked at the doors and side profile.

Thankfully, the first Cayenne was a smash hit, giving Porsche more freedom to play around when it started developing the successor in 2005. It did do by, erm, keeping the doors precisely the same. To be fair, they were good doors, letting people in and out without making a nuisance.

Instead, Porsche focused on elements that would have a more significant visual impact, like the windows, mirrors, and quarter lights at the A-Pillars.


At the rear, you'll notice the side windows pulled in higher behind the door, the roof spoiler was mounted further back, the taillights were elevated, and the D-pillars were more slanted. This gave the Cayenne a sloping roofline and a more attractive waistline. Incorporating the well-known Porsche design DNA into this model must have been much easier. It looked more like an SUV that was actually designed by a human and less like a diseased and inflamed 911.

Porsche also had more freedom on the inside and took care of one of the biggest criticisms leveraged against the first-generation Cayenne. It shared an elevated seating position with the Touareg. In the Touareg, which had zero sporty aspirations, it was fine. In the sporty Porsche, less so. You want to be nestled within a sporty car, which is precisely what Porsche did.

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"The seating position was now totally different," said Michael Mauer, head of design at Porsche. "In the E2 you sit in the car, not on it. This was an incisive difference to the E1."

During the development of the E2 Cayenne, Porsche was already busy with the first-generation Panamera. Porsche's sports sedan used a neat visual and psychological trick. The engineers lowered the seat as much as possible and raised the center console. This created the illusion of sitting relatively low while retaining that feeling of lording it over other road users. This brilliant bit of engineering worked so well that you'll find it on every Porsche sold today.

Finally, Porsche gave the Cayenne the famous rev counter positioned in the middle and a steering wheel borrowed from the 911. "For customers with a 911 and a Cayenne in their garage, this disconnect now no longer existed," said Mauer.

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For the second generation, Porsche dropped the low-range gearbox. "In the further development of the electronic control systems, we made a big step forward in terms of control quality and speed. As a result, we were able to have the same off-road capability as the E1 in the new design of the E2 without a transfer case or a low-range gear, and we could therefore achieve a big weight saving," said then developer and current overall vehicle project manager, Oliver Laqua.

The new drivetrain consisted of an all-wheel-drive system with a rear bias connected to an eight-speed Tiptronic. Porsche also developed Porsche Traction Management (PTM) to increase the on-road and off-road manners.

As a result of the above, the second generation Cayenne lost 245 pounds.


Another first for the Cayenne E2 was the optional hybrid powertrain. It was based around the Cayenne S powertrain, a naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 producing 395 horsepower. By adding an electric motor and a rechargeable battery, the Cayenne PHEV could travel up to 37.5 mph on electricity alone. Porsche claimed a fuel consumption figure of 28.7 mpg.

The E2 enabled Porsche to almost double the delivery figures compared to the first Cayenne. Between 2010 and 2017, 535,903 examples of the model assembled at the Leipzig factory were delivered.


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