To mark the Cayenne’s 20th anniversary, Porsche is looking back at key moments in the SUV’s development. This time, it’s focusing on the rally-bred Cayenne S Transsyberia.
To showcase the then-new Cayenne’s off-road capability, Porsche entered the 2006 Rally Transsyberia, which sent competitors on a 6,000-mile-plus odyssey from Berlin to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, via Moscow, Irkutsk, and Lake Baikal in Russia. A pair of Cayenne S models made a one-two finish that year, with the winning Cayenne co-driven by Porsche engineer Jürgen Kern, who had worked on the first-generation Cayenne’s development.
The race vehicles were mostly stock, the main changes being different tires, underbody protection, snorkels, winches, and auxiliary lights. They also had a locking differential and off-road air-suspension with specific tuning, which were factory options at the time.
This success encouraged Porsche to set up a customer-racing program. The automaker built 26 Cayenne S Transsyberia racers for use by privateer teams in the 2007 Transsyberia rally on an abbreviated route from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar.
These vehicles were more extensively modified, sporting roll cages, reinforced wishbones, and shorter axle ratios to improve acceleration. The Transsyberia racers also got more extensive waterproofing than stock Cayennes, enabling a wading depth of 29.5 inches with the air suspension at its highest setting.
The 4.8-liter V-8 was stock, but by 2007 the Cayenne had received a power boost to 379 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, up from the previous 335 hp and 308 lb-ft. The Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control active anti-roll system had also been added by that time.
Porsche continued to dominate the event. In 2007, Cayennes swept the podium and took seven of the top 10 places. The same fleet of vehicles was also used in 2008, locking out all but seventh place among the top 10 finishers.
With its point proven, Porsche shifted focus to building a road-going special edition to commemorate the Cayenne’s rallying success. Launched in 2009 as a 2010 model, it had the engine from the Cayenne GTS and thus actually had more power than the racers, at 400 hp. It also came standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, with which it could do 0-62 mph in 6.1 seconds (a Tiptronic automatic gearbox was also available).
Off-road lights and special color schemes replicated the look of the rally cars. Just 285 were built, making the special edition more common than the rally versions but still quite rare. Porsche hasn’t built anything like it since.
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