There’s a Little Controversy Amid the Porsche Cayenne’s 20th Birthday - story fullscreen Fullscreen

There’s a Little Controversy Amid the Porsche Cayenne’s 20th Birthday

Porsche’s first four-door car surrounds itself with controversy while celebrating its 20th birthday

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Since 2002, the Cayenne has been one of the most successful and practical Porsches, with enough performance for everyday driveability and some spirited fun too. But surrounding its 20th birthday, there is talk that the Cayenne might be the successor of the 959 - a car originally built for Group B rally. So to get more details, Fabian Mechtel, an influencer, visited Porsche headquarters in Leipzig to meet veteran rally driver, Walter Röhrl, and discuss if the Porsche 959 gave birth to a capable SUV.

There's a Little Controversy Amid the Porsche Cayenne's 20th Birthday
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The powertrain choices were also similar, but that is it. The platform was built separately for the Cayenne, since it was a big four-door SUV.

With titles like "fastest production car of its time" and the "most technologically advanced vehicle," the Porsche 959 was a German legend. It was a sports car developed to conquer both on and off-road tracks, and it excelled, thanks to an extra low-range first gear and a height-adjustable chassis. So, with the development of the first-generation Cayenne, Porsche made sure that it should be capable both on the road and off the beaten path. While the visual differences between the 959 and the Cayenne were substantial, mainly because the latter was a four-door SUV, the chassis was also completely different. This doesn’t sound much like the material that makes something a successor, does it?

In Fabian Mechtel’s interview with Walter Röhrl, we learned that he was also the development driver of the first Cayenne (code-named E1). Together, they talked about whether the Cayenne is a successor to the 959 rally car. And while it may sound weird, the similarities were quite strange. Both the 959 and the E1 Cayenne had very similar driving behavior on and off the road. But it is pretty surprising for the Cayenne since it is not a racecar but a big fat SUV.

There's a Little Controversy Amid the Porsche Cayenne's 20th Birthday
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The 959 was initially a rally car before the FIA homologation which made it a production heavy sportscar.

The first Cayenne Turbo S, however, did have the same V-8 engine as the 959. Its 444 horsepower was enough in 2002 to set the road on fire. The 959 initially was a rally car; then, after the homologation, Porsche gave birth to one of the best supercars of all time. But it had to behave like a genuine Porsche on the road and track.

The question of Cayenne being the successor to the 959 rally car is relevant enough if you notice both the car’s capabilities. Apart from the engine choices, both the cars were different in outer appearance and even under the skin.

There's a Little Controversy Amid the Porsche Cayenne's 20th Birthday
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The first-gen Cayenne was developed with the key Porsche qualities at heart. So, when hit the road, it was a full-fledged enthusiast’s SUV capable of on- and off-road performance

Source: Porsche

Amreetam Basu
Amreetam Basu
Automotive Journalist
After working predominantly as a freelancer at CarHP/CarIndigo, Amreetam joined the TopSpeed team as a journalist in September 2021. In a world where SUVs are booming, he favors sedans and adores BMWs and Mercedes, with a special spot for Lexus and Genesis. He is currently pursuing Master of Arts in History and is 23 years old.  Read full bio
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