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Old February 14th, 2002, 08:58 AM   #1
Magic Mtn Dan
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Porsche's new SUV faces opposition - sight unseen Really?

Porsche's new SUV faces opposition - sight unseen

By Michael Ellis

DETROIT, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Porsche's entry into the growing sport utility vehicle segment later this year has rankled some devotees of the macho German sports car maker, who fear their beloved image of the ultimate road machine will be compromised by suburban sensibilities.

The Porsche Cayenne remains shrouded in secrecy. A Porsche Web site shows only the shadowy outline of the SUV, and its public debut won't come until late this year, perhaps at the Paris auto show in September.

But already, some Porsche lovers fear the Cayenne will attract a new breed of customers to the exclusive group of predominately male Porsche owners.

"People have talked about how they are worried about pulling up at a stoplight and seeing a suburban housewife in the Cayenne putting on her lipstick," said Nick Twork, an analyst with the automotive consultants AutoPacific. "It's a gold chain and chest hair brand, to some extent."

To be sure, with prices starting at about $42,000 for the Boxster and $67,900 for the 911, Porsche attracts an elite and car-loving crowd. Many Porsche owners are the kind of people who debate the merits of water- versus air-cooled engines.

Porsche counters that many Cayenne buyers could be current Porsche owners looking for more utility or seating space for their kids. Typical Porsche owners also have a foreign-made sedan and a sport utility vehicle parked in their garage.

FORK IN THE ROAD

But Porsche's own executives admit to hearing a lot of complaints lately that the Cayenne, expected to go on sale in the United States late this year or early next year at a price of $50,000 to $70,000, will divert the company from its sports car heritage.

Porsche expects to build about 25,000 Cayennes annually at a new Leipzig, Germany plant, with about 75 percent of those exported, mostly to the United States. The new SUV will raise Porsche's worldwide sales by nearly 50 percent from the 55,000 sold in the last fiscal year ended July 2001, Porsche said.

"From the time of the first 356 in 1948, Porsche has built nothing but sports cars. And now all of the sudden they are going in an entirely different direction," said Neiland Pennington, the executive editor of the monthly trade publication Modern Metals, who has owned four Porsches. "Porsche has been the specialist all these years and its got a cult following."

But Porsche says the Cayenne will not disappoint.

"We've received a lot of criticism that we are breaking away from our heritage by building something other than a sports car," Porsche Cars of America Chief Operating Officer Richard Ford said in a speech last month. "But the Porsche SUV will be different and better. Porsche intends to put the sport back into the sport utility equation."

The industry trade publication AutoWeek said that the Cayenne will offer three different engines, including a twin-turbo 4.2-liter V-8 engine capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 miles (96.5 km) per hour in five seconds flat, making it the fastest SUV on the market.

CAYENNE CROSSING

Porsche also argues that the Cayenne will ensure its independence and future viability. The company, which bills itself as the world's most profitable automaker, nearly went bankrupt in the early 1990s when the U.S. economy went into recession, the stock markets tanked and the sale of luxury goods dried up.

Perhaps dampening some criticism, German luxury automakers BMW AG and DaimlerChrysler AG have also entered the luxury SUV market with the BMW X5 and the Mercedes M-Class. Both the X5 and the M-Class have contributed to the growth of the German automakers, without apparently harming their brand identities.

To legitimize the off-road capability of the Cayenne, Porsche announced last week its Cayenne Crossing Initiative, a program to restore some historic U.S. trails accessible by SUVs.

Should any Porsche sports car lover still be perturbed, the Cayenne will also help fund the development of future Porsche sports cars, such as the high-performance Carrera GT, expected to cost between $350,000 to $450,000 when it goes on sale next year.
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Old February 14th, 2002, 10:07 AM   #2
Boxster Spice
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Are people more upset that...

Porsche is making an SUV or that they are making an SUV that is both quicker off the line and quicker around the North Loop than their Boxster S's?

0-60 in 5.0 for a fat, heavy SUV and uses a slushbox. Wow! That engine must be awwwwwwwwwwwwwesome.
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Old February 14th, 2002, 10:34 AM   #3
macsak
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i heard the twin turbo on the nurburgring

in person- it sounds like an indy car on steroids

thanks for the article dan, where do you find these things?

aloha

steve
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Old February 14th, 2002, 10:54 AM   #4
Clayton in Walnut Creek
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twin-turbo 4.2-liter V-8 engine capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 miles *NM*

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Old October 13th, 2020, 12:14 PM   #5
Emmery
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