Alright, Porsche purists, you’ve had 14 years to get over the fact Porsche makes SUVs. Fortunately, Porsche’s SUVs have been dynamically excellent from day one and not flimsy badge-jobs like the Saab 9-7X and Acura SLX. But to those who criticized Porsche back in 2003, was it really justified? After all, Porsche had already broken their own formula and built the front-engined 928, one of which I spotted following a new Macan.
Ok, ok, so the 928 was a coupe like the 911 and not a hulking SUV. But it was a grand tourer with an engine up the front, two extra seats in the back, and generally fitted with an automatic transmission. By the time of the Cayenne, the shock of a front-engined Porsche had subsided as the German marque had sold the 928 for 17 years and also offered the 924/944/968. The real surprise was that the Cayenne added two extra doors and could go off-road. Well, I might add.
It was really quite progressive of Porsche to launch the Cayenne when they did, beating Aston Martin, Lotus, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. They saw where the market was, they saw how profitable a premium SUV could be, and yet still they didn’t half-ass it even though they desperately needed a return to profitability. And though the Cayenne’s launch was met with some skepticism, sales immediately took off and Porsche’s profitability instantly increased.
The Cayenne and Macan may use some VW Group mechanicals and offer diesels and hybrids and great off-road performance, but Porsche engineered them to be some of the best of their breed and to make the Porsche brand proud. And although the 928’s long production run likely helped Porsche amortize development costs, it didn’t electrify Porsche’s profitability like the SUVs did. We still have the classic 911, and that’s thanks in large part to the Cayenne and Macan.
Curbside Classic: Porsche 928 – Blasphemy With a Big Butt
Curbside Classic: Porsche 928 – The Future Of Porsche, Twenty-Five Years Too Soon
Future Classic: 2015 Porsche Macan – Even Better Than The Real Thing
The 911 IS Porsche. It’s certainly changed over the years and probably is now positioned more like the 928 was in its day but will never go away. People who wanted a 911 back in the day now gravitate more to the Cayman as dynamically it is more akin to the older formula, mainly being smaller.
I never realized how the Macan certainly harkens back to the 928 until I saw your lead picture. Those rear ends share more than a passing resemblance.
The market today is much more accepting of the Macan and the market in the mid-2000’s was much more accepting of the Cayenne than anyone was of the 928 upon its introduction and in fact for most of its long lifespan. Of course (relative) price has something to do with that.
You can see the 928’s rear end in the Panarema, a four door 928.
and not flimsy badge-jobs like the Saab 9-7X and Acura SLX.
Ahem, Volkswagen Touareg. Whatever dynamic qualities it may very well have(never have or plan to drive one), it’s clearly a Touareg with a 911ish nose grafted on. The 928 was a bespoke halo model, a genuine would be replacement for the 911 had things gone as planned. The Cayenne is more like the 914 with it’s major deviation in driveline (ok, excluding racecars) and it’s clear relationship to VW.
I’m not over it. I’d never put a poster of that thing above my childhood bed and that’s the only relevant test for a sports car brand. You want to cash out the name, do what Ferrari does and make cheesy merchandise.
I agree with you 100%, but for better or worse Ferrari is the last Italian sports car manufacturer without an SUV, now that “sister” brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati have “crossovers” and Lamborghini “crossed that bridge”, albeit on a limited scale, decades ago.
I even read recently that Aston Martin is considering some kind of SUV/CUV.
So is Lotus.
Ah, two diametrically opposed cars from the same manufacturer. So of course, I have diametrically opposed views on them.
I really like the Porsche 928, I think it’s a good looking car, I love the idea of a V8 Porsche with the engine in the right place, and it’s one of those cars that the more it ages, the better it gets. If the repair costs didn’t cost your children’s entire college fund, I would consider owning one in the future.
On the other hand, the Macan is cynical in the textbook definition of the word. It’s no different then the Bentley Bentayga, the Jaguar F-Type, the Maserati Levante, and other high end SUVs and CUVs made by manufacturers nowadays.
Came back to my car yesterday to find a Jaguar F-pace parked next to it. In my little town! They must be getting common….
The 928 always looked to me like a flattened AMC Pacer.
My sentiments exactly on the 928.
Our area is lousy with Cayennes and Macans. No doubt they are the best driving wagons in their class, but I suspect the owners are more focused on obtaining the Porsche badges at the lowest cost. I’d also say the Macan blurs the line between “SUV’s” and hatchbacks.
Now the 911, Cayman, and Boxster… these are what I think are worthy of the badge and the legacy… as long as they have three pedals!
You can criticize Porsche or other manufacturers like Jaguar, for making crossovers and SUVs if you want. However if they would like to remain independent manufacturers and continue to build a line of low production sports cars, they need to sell product. Jag’s new F pace is outselling the entry level XE model. Domestic automakers have trouble selling sedans and sports coupes while high profit SUVs fly out the door. Of course Mercedes Benz came from a traditional broad manufacturing base that included lower priced car models, trucks and other equipment. Does it lead to dilution of the marque? I think that if the new models are well designed and built they can widen the audience for the manufacturer. The alternative is worse.
I don’t really have an issue with the Macan and Cayenne, as there are horses for courses and different strokes for different folks etc. I wouldn’t buy either, but I also have no interest in a 911. But I’d have a 928 (or a 944) in a heartbeat.
Unlike the Cayenne, Macan or 911, the 928 was aesthetically excellent and so futuristic-looking for 1978.
The Cayenne/Macan break the mould for Porsche, but not for SUVdom – especially not when you consider the related VW/Audi/Bentley SUVs. And stylistically, the Cayenne/Macan are products of now, and not really forward-looking. Neat tail-lights on the Macan though!
The 911 may have been mould-breaking in 1963, but it’s still clinging to that original (some would say outdated) mould.
The 928 was mould-breaking, for both Porsche and the motoring world. Stylistically it looked like the future – and still looks modern and relevant today. And that, to me, is the true definition of a great car.
I’ve never quite understood why people react so strongly to ‘unworthy’ additions to a manufacturers range, such as the Porsche crossovers. It’s as if they have forgotten that these companies are all businesses first and foremost. If a vehicle isn’t to your liking, that’s fine; don’t ignore it. But to get indignant over it is just silly. Porsche isn’t obligated to conform to any one person’s static vision of it.
Only conform to one greedy businessman’s static vision of it. The business thrived for 50 years before the Cayenne building only sports cars, I don’t buy that the business wouldn’t be around today had they not stuck with it. Unfortunately I could envision the death of the sports car line in the long run quite easily now, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.
I don’t buy that Porsche could have survived on sports cars alone. But I’m speaking more to the feelings of surprise and betrayal displayed in peoples’ reaction to such deviations from tradition. It sounds like there’s a sense of entitlement there, which is unwarranted.
In 2015 Porsche produced 235,000 vehicles. 70% of those were either Cayennes or Macans. Another 6% were Panameras. No way would Porsche still be around without them and the parts much of those lines share with much higher volume products at VW and/or Audi.
Many of those were sold to people that already have a 911 or Boxster or Cayman in the garag. The rest were sold to people who can justify a Porsche but need a car to be more practical than the sports car lines offer.
928s I’ve worked on include 78, 79, 84 and most recently an 88 S4. These are like a German version of the IROC camaro. Real Panzers these! You feel the weight while watching your wallet get thinner at a frightening pace. NLA parts galore! Two oil pans with a CORK oil pan gasket! I actually preferred the gearing and simplicity of the 78 if I just had to have one. I’m sure they made for a great Autobahn cruiser back in ze day….
Meanwhile, back in the land of awesome, my old 74 911 keeps ticking along. Mostly original. 2440lbs with me inside it. Can be repaired with mostly simple tools. Parts exist in multiple manifestations. New bushings in suspension gave it surefootedness above 120mph on track. No wings or extra blarney. Was bought for used Honda Civic money back in 2009. Junkers JU88 vs FW 190.
And the Macan? Should’ve been called the Recall….. A lot of minor issues. But a LOT.
It is a good seller though.
The 928 looked like a bloated whale to me when if first came out. The other day I saw one parked between a BMW 4 series and a recent Merc S class coupe and was shocked to find it looking chiselled and svelte!
Cars are getting fatter not longer and all look like they 3 times the original models.