Not so long ago, our Michael Harley drove the Porsche Cayenne Diesel up in flannel-lovin' Alaska, and he returned home safely from that expedition pretty well convinced that Porsche knows how to create a really heavy, mountain-topping 4x4. In fact, since the test for the first generation of the Cayenne Diesel back in 2008, it's been clear: The diesel version of the Spice Islands Porsche is among its very best.
I'm not taking away from the spectacularity of the latest Turbo S or GTS Cayennes, but when it comes to traditional 4x4 duties, a gnarly turbodiesel's progressive power delivery and spitting torque make for great satisfaction. And a 4.2-liter biturbo V8 diesel is just bound to do something right for you. Cue this drive of the Cayenne S Diesel.
Over the standard Cayenne Diesel, the S's horsepower is up by 137, torque is up by 221 pound-feet, and straight-line oil-burning acceleration to 60 miles per hour requires just 5.6 seconds, maybe less. For this additional chutzpah, you'd be staring at a window sticker with a starting price of around $71,500, or just over 25-percent more than seen on the monroney for the S-less Cayenne Diesel Michael left in Alaska.
If, that is, the Cayenne S Diesel was destined for the US, which it sadly is not.
Whether you really like or really hate the Cayenne, I have to say that since the first-generation packaging got itself fully sorted around 2006, this interior is about the most robust and finely crafted cabin in the automotive business. Not a flabby or overstuffed anything in sight, though; it's all muscle with an undeniable sense of premium quality.
Check out the exhaust tips to hear the voice of the Cayenne S Diesel. As one Cayenne team member asked us, "It's not at all like a diesel, is it?" And it's almost entirely true that there's almost no hint of a diesel mill under the hood. Blipping the throttle and accelerating hard stresses this point even further. Pretty impressive (see video).
Whereas for the most part the exterior still gives me troubles, from certain angles, this thing looks pretty incredible. The front three-quarter view is the best angle on the Cayenne, while I feel the rear three-quarter could also be as great if it weren't for the taillight design on this generation.
The 377 horsepower peaking at 3,750 rpm is impressive, but it's the towering 627 pound-feet of torque punching things forward between 2,000 and 2,750 rpm (almost all of it available from 1,650 rpm) that can separate my retinas.
A 4,400-rpm redline is a reality on this 4.2-liter V8 biturbo diesel. That rev limit is no limitation at all, though, as far as holding the throttle in a given gear for a long time.
The eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission's action and the Porsche Traction Management chassis has reached near perfection here. The half-step gears here help smooth things while also improving fuel efficiency for cruising.
Despite this storm of energy and the vehicle's 5,005-pound curb weight, this SUV can easily return an average of 25 miles per gallon.
The performance figures for this Cayenne S Diesel are well beyond the thrills experienced in the already good V6 diesel. Punching the throttle is simply vicious in the midrange.
Recommended braked towing weight remains 7,700 pounds. It feels like the Cayenne S Diesel would prefer five passengers and about 12,000 pounds to tow. Uphill.
European deliveries of this exceptional tank begin before the end of the year. Russia is foreseen as a huge market. What a surprise.
2013 Porsche Cayenne S Diesel [w/video] Quick Spin