Love them, indifferent, or hate them, the Cayenne was really good for Porsche. They resulted in a significant cash boost for the company that allowed them to really invest in development of the 911 and basically everything else since these SUVs were launched in the early 2000s. So the next time you see a 997 GT3 RS 4.0 driving along, think to yourself, “Thanks Cayenne.” Okay, so maybe that isn’t the first thing that will pop into your head, but you get where I am coming from.
Today, I wanted to look at a Cayenne that isn’t the lease special V6 but also not the insanity that was the Cayenne Turbo and Turbo S. The GTS trim on any model always was, and still is, that sweet spot for those who want something a few notches up from the base model but aren’t spending $200,000 on a Turbo or GT car. The Cayenne GTS was a really nice spec Cayenne that had some different body work, 21″ wheels, and a 400 horsepower 4.8 liter V8. Even better, it was offered in a 6-speed manual that was completely off the table for any person who was married. This 2009 up for sale in Texas has the standard automatic that is significant other friendly, but at the end of the day can still do 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. The best part? They are getting cheap.
The year is 2019 and we are full into an era where a first generation Porsche Cayenne can be had for the cost of a German Shepherd puppy. Seriously these, along with its hunky cousin Volkswagen Touareg, are trading for shockingly low prices thanks to the classic formula of low demand, low quality and higher than normal repair costs at a higher than normal rate. Buying one of these now is a gamble that I don’t think anyone is really ready for because while money can fix anything, you can’t buy more time from the inconvenience that these things can cause. If you wanted to snag one for a pure hobby knowing that this is going to be a bumpy ride, there is one special build that is worth looking out for: the 6-speed manual.
For whatever reason, Porsche brought over a handful of 6-speed manuals mated to their 240 horsepower version of the 3.2 VR6 in the 5,000 lb. base model Cayenne. I’m sure every dealer who were allocated these had thoughts about not setting the parking brake and letting them roll away given how hard these were to sell when new. While Porsche also brought the 6-speed manual in the GTS model, that one was mated to a 405 horsepower V8 and sold as a performance model, so it made sense in a way. Here we are now some 14 years later and a handful of these bounce around on the used market in conditions you would expect an old Porsche SUV to be in. Everything is sticky, it smells like crayons and the center carrier bearing probably needs replaced again. Still, this example up for sale in Chicago might have you thinking about it if you are just crazy enough.
Did the world need a 450 horsepower Porsche off-roader? Maybe not. Is it cool that one exists? Certainly. Porsche came to the SUV party a little later than Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even corporate partner Volkswagen, but when it did it came in with some serious motivation. Alongside the VR6 and V8 models – already fairly potent engines – came a twin-turbocharged 4.5 liter unit. With 450 horsepower and 460 lb. ft of torque mated to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission, acceleration was blistering. The 5,700lb heavyweight hit 60 in a sports car embarrassing 5.3 seconds and was capable of topping 170 mph. Massive six piston Brembo brakes provided 911-like braking capability, too, and while in default the car had a 60 percent power bias to the rear, Porsche Traction Management system could transfer up to 100 percent of the power to whichever axle needed it most – or, more properly, was using it best.
That hinted that this was more than just a tall on-roader like the X5. No, the Cayenne was a serious off-roader. With lockable center and rear differentials, a low-range box with planetary gearing and height adjustable air suspension, it was more than competent when the going got rough. And with short overhangs both front and rear, it could actually conquer big elements. Pushed, it could also head through nearly 2-foot deep water, as well.
For most Cayenne (and especially Cayenne Turbo models), these features were about as useful for most owners as the top speed of the entire 911 range in the U.S. is. Nevertheless, it pointed towards Porsche’s careful engineering of the Cayenne to be a true all-around performer. And that unique focus on performance has inspired some individuals to capitalize on the model’s prowess:
I constantly shop for SUVs to replace my winter beater Land Rover Discovery that could either die tomorrow or two years from now. But, probably it’ll be tomorrow. My search usually goes from the logical choice of a Toyota Land Cruiser to the ”Andrew, we’d like you to seek psychological help based off your 3 a.m. eBay Motors searches for Volkswagen Touaregs.” So once in awhile the Touareg’s upper-middle class cousin, the Porsche Cayenne, crosses my mind when I see a rerun of The Sopranos. Logically, I jump on eBay Motors to see where the market is at on them. I was surprised.
The Porsche Cayenne is always a sore subject when brought up. Often the primary transportation of upper-middle class housewives such as Carmela Soprano and alike, the Porsche purist cringes when one drives by. But in 2010, Porsche decided to add a little flair to it’s normally mundane and mall cruising SUV to honor their victories in the Transsyberian Rallies. What we got was a truly off-road capable vehicle. This 2010 Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia located in Central Illinois can have you ready to tackle the woods in your Porsche — if you don’t mind the color orange.