This was the first time in the history of the company that, instead of a two-door sports car, a blueprint for an SUV was required. This was, in a way, the exact opposite of a sports car layout: a big, high-roofed car with four doors and room for five people and all their luggage. Additionally, the Cayenne needed much greater ground clearance than a classic sports car, as it was expected to count among the best when driving off-road as well. Internally, the Cayenne is known by the code letter E for Enduro, with the first Cayenne named E1 and the current model being the E3.
“Of course, it wasn’t at all easy to express the identity of the Porsche brand in a car that had absolutely nothing in common with the existing models made by our company,” said Lagaay after the work was done. The designer spent a whole year on the headlights alone. It wasn’t just that they had to incorporate the low and high beams and the cornering light while preserving the clear lines of the Cayenne body – these were among the components that guaranteed the brand identity.
This remains evident today in the distinctive shoulder at the back of the Cayenne E1 – in which Ferdinand Alexander Porsche played a significant design role – as well as the smooth surfaces of the body and the omission of a traditional radiator grille between the headlights. These classic Porsche characteristics also reduced the significance of the comparatively large air intakes in the front apron. A front-mounted engine requires air for combustion and cooling. And Porsche customers were already used to front air intakes from the sports cars. In this case, though, they are responsible for cooling the brakes.
The options that remained to solve this were a more sloping design of the rigid side windows behind the rear doors, and the addition of a spoiler to extend the roof line.
Overall, even from today’s perspective, the first Cayenne with its formal clarity and emphasis on characteristic Porsche elements is a consistent member of the model range. The interior of the E1 was, however, strongly influenced by Volkswagen.
Porsche was still able to include a number of characteristic elements: its own three-spoke steering wheel, hand-grips on the centre console that underline the superb off-road performance of the SUV, and the ignition lock that can be found in the same place as in every Porsche – to the left of the steering wheel.
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