The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

1.5 The Panzers' army

Some other examples again come from the VAG Group again, or rather the Porsche-VAG, I should say.

The cars are the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, together with their extended wheelbase version, the Audi Q7. I could have talked about theVolkswagen Phaeton and the Bentley Continental Flying Spur instead, but I feel like the Bentley case is much larger argument.

Proceeding by order, let's forget for a second what the Cayenne is and what it represented for Porsche, the point is the relationship with the Touareg.

Historically, Porsche and VW have always been in close ties, with the first 356 being a sort of coupe model of the VW Beetle, really sort of. It wasn't a simple tuning program, nor an external company acquiring the rights and modifying the project. It was all Porsche's work, and by Porsche I mean Ferdinand and his son “Ferry”. With the first creating the Beetle and the latter the 356. Obviously, there wasn't space for a car like the 356 in VW's line-up especially at that time, but the potential couldn't be discarded either, therefore a new brand was somehow required, and born too.

The two companies worked together again with the 914 project, which despite good selling figures for the 4 cylinder variant, it isn't even the first car, from both brands, that comes to mind when you think about them.

Fast forward and we come to the SUVs mentioned above.

Considering the previous happenings, it's not the sharing of the engines or the common project of the whole platform the issue. Rather, if it wasn't for the badge, would the Cayenne still be recognized as a Porsche? No, in my opinion. Besides being one of the fastest SUVs on the market, and besides having those odd-fried-eggs headlights, and some other bits here and there, it isn't carrying over the brand's spirit, it doesn't fit in what you would expect from them, regardless of it being an SUV. If it was something more rally-raid oriented, with a name and a technical approach reminiscent of the 953 and 959 prototypes at the Paris-Dakar races, it would have been great, even if in the end the off-road capabilities would have been surely resized in favor of a supremacy on the road. Unfortunately they didn't and the only effort to bring the car some heritage are the participations to the Transsyberia race with an army of Cayenne S every year (see post header).

On the other hand we have the Touareg, which besides being quite expensive being a VW, it just served as a simple way to reduce Cayenne's costs of development. It also did what the Cayenne should have done, it raced, and won, in the Dakar race. Even being aware the two cars has just the name in common, still it has a marketing point, and it should also being considered the 959 who raced was actually a prototype of the forthcoming road car.

It has always been seen as the poor sister of the Porsche, but that's was exactly its purpose, and indeed it found its customers among those who couldn't afford a more expensive car, or its V8 engines (indeed lately came the V6, the diesel and in a little while the hybrid powertrain for the Cayenne).

The Q7 is just the bigger version of the Touareg. There was a spot left available for healthy customers but not interested in performance in first place, even if now the Audi is, or shortly will be, available with an enormous V12 diesel engine, good for 500 hp. Pointless if you ask me, with the only purpose of trailing your track day car to the local circuit next weekend.

Critics received? None, basically, apart from the obvious fact a lot of enthusiasts never wanted an SUV from Porsche, but the success has been so large, every now and then rumors of a smaller Tiguan-based model surface, and they sound credible too.

With the existence of two similar cars like the Touareg and the Q7 ( a la Fiat Bravo and Lancia Delta, controversy name apart) being quite obvious and even comprehensible, the only point is Porsche declaring, publicly, it doesn't care about cars, about their style, or about enthusiasts, just give us the money, thanks.

photos sources: Touareg V10 TDI, 959 Rally, Race Touareg 2, Audi Q7, Cayenne GTS.

photo header source: Cayenne S Transsyberia

No comments:

Post a Comment