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The original Porsche Cayenne was almost based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Porsche Cayenne 20 years old nowmade its debut at the 2002 Paris International Motor Show. But Porsche’s first SUV may have taken a very different development path than the one that eventually ended up on stage in the French capital. .

Porsche has revealed the first-generation Cayenne almost based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class (the forerunner of today’s GLE-Class).

Mercedes-Benz ML 320

Mercedes-Benz ML 320

When Porsche began working on a third model alongside the 911 and Boxster, it looked at the last five concepts that were converted into minivans or SUVs. The minivan concept has been taken up by the automaker’s US arm, which sees an SUV as more attractive to the higher-income buyers that Porsche wants to attract.

At that time, Porsche still had relatively limited resources to develop the car and was looking for a partner for the SUV project. Also around this time, Mercedes is preparing to launch the M-Class. The two automakers recently collaborated on Mercedes 500 E sports sedan and Mercedes are not opposed to the second partnership.

Porsche Cayenne prototype in Weissach, Germany, 2000

Porsche Cayenne prototype in Weissach, Germany, 2000

“At that stage, we envisioned the Porsche SUV as a high-performance division of Mercedes,” said Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert, former Cayenne product line manager. It will share some technology with the M-Class, but with unique exterior styling and a Porsche-supplied engine and chassis, Wolpert said.

The two automakers began negotiations in 1996, but the deal fell through due to financial disagreements, according to Porsche. Mercedes launched the M-Class solo in 1997 and it became one of the company’s best-selling models. In June of that year, Porsche decided to work with Volkswagen to develop the Cayenne alongside the first generation Touareg. The similarity of parts, as well as the use of the VW factory for production, made the deal financially viable for Porsche. The rest, as they say, is history.

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