Many people appear really steamed that the Volkswagen-Porsche convergence/reengineering is proceeding so quickly and thoroughly. The latest example is the derivation of the new Cajun, the small Cayenne, from the Audi Q5. Above is Inside Line’s rendering.
The U.K.’s Car Magazine reports that the new Q5 will provide four Audi engines, tweaked for the Cajun and including a hot V6 diesel possibly for the U.S., plus the Audi platform, Quattro AWD, and a four-door configuration (with a two-door to follow in 2014). There are virtually no positive reader comments of the approximately 30 that I read, but you know Brit car fans have a lock on skepticism.
Visually, it looks way too much like a Q5, in my opinion not an attractive car, though the new car looks much better than the present one. So Porsche continues to be sucked into the VW maw and increasingly programmed to produce semi-ugly (though well-engineered) models like the Panamera and Cayenne (itself a tarted-up Touareg).
Of course, it makes business sense to do this kind of rebadging—up to a point. That point is when you lose brand identity, and the old GM is the classic example of that. Porsche apparently will try to distinguish the Cajun through engine choices, a whole bunch of Porsche-specific options, better brakes, a Sport Pack and so on.
The new Q5 Hybrid (right), however, will have much of the performance of at least the lesser-powered Cajuns, it seems, and Audi will be pushing this car very hard. Many details are on the AudiWorld website. Are the Porsche nameplate and brand worth approximately 15 percent more?
Differentiation is everything in branding, and one hopes that VW-Porsche will not fall into the trap that snared so much of the U.S. industry. The kicker seems to be that 309-hp, 405-lb-ft-torque diesel. If Porsche, as rumored, offers that in the Cajun, they will have a very hot-performing small SUV and likely a real differentiator.
Is Porsche really going down Rebadge Road with the new Cajun? Is this a mistake?