You’re not without options when it comes to trim levels of Porsche’s Cayenne; the incredibly popular-selling SUV from the German automaker.
There are seven variants to choose from, including a base V6 gasoline engine, a Hybrid model and even a performance-oriented Turbo S with an outstanding 550 horsepower.
But nestled between the entry-level Cayenne trim and the Cayenne S is a vehicle that doesn’t make a lot of noise — contrary to popular perception — but speaks volumes and adds a new dimension to the family: The 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
Aside from the soft twang of the diesel engine’s hum (which I’ll get to a little later on), there is little on this SUV that denotes what kind of model it is. How do you know of its fuel-efficient capabilities unless you’re looking at the digital range display on the instrument cluster? This Cayenne is subtly designated by a “Diesel” badge on the left and right front fenders.
With daytime LED lights in the front, a sleek profile and a robust yet toned rear end, this spicy SUV has visual appeal both on the outside and in.
Slip inside the full leather interior (a $4,170 option) and take your throne behind the multifunction steering wheel.
Getting comfortable doesn’t take long at all. With the 18-way adaptive sport seat ($2,520), finding the perfect setting position is only a push of a button away.
Furthermore, the Cayenne’s cabin has a host of technological gadgetry that can be controlled also by the push of a button. For example, the self-levelling air suspension ($4,550) allows the ride height to travel up or downwards depending on the driving environment. The ride-height control is easily found on the centre console and can travel from a maximum ground clearance of 10.5 inches down to a loading-level ground clearance of 6.2 inches. Normal ground clearance is 8.3 inches.
While most won’t venture too far off the beaten path with this vehicle, keeping it at the lowest suspension ride height proves ideal for everyday city and highway driving.
In the driver’s seat, there’s a lot going on around you, primarily in the form of buttons. One passenger likened it to being inside a fighter jet. I can see why. That said, everything has its place and can be deciphered easily. It took a little getting used to, but I have no qualms with it.
Using a specially tuned version of the same 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine also found in the VW Touareg TDI and the Audi Q7 (they’re all vehicles under the Volkswagen umbrella), Porsche infuses it with their own flair. Producing 240 horsepower and 406 foot-pounds of torque, needless to say, it’s not a sleeper. Nor is it a boring vehicle to drive. With settings such as a Sport mode, its personality shape-shifts to give it even more life-giving qualities.
Its engine is then paired with a seamless eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic with gearshift controls on the steering wheel. You can also manually change gears via the gearbox itself, should you so desire.
There may still be a looming stigma around diesel engines. But you’d be hard pressed to peg this as a loud and smelly vehicle if you’re sitting inside the cabin. Engine noise is faint and minimally audible. Even when standing outside the vehicle with it running, it’s phenomenally quiet. Yes, there is still that certain buzz to it, but nothing like diesels of the past.
The Cayenne Diesel’s permanent all-wheel-drive system was a perfect complement for a drive up the local ski hill for an evening on the mountain. With the frostbitten and snow-covered roads, it offered solace when conditions got a little slippery.
And while sub-zero temperatures dictated the outside world, inside, the warmth of heated seats and a dual-zone climate control system created a cozy cabin.
Also keeping cozy was our outdoor gear in the cargo area. The Cayenne has a maximum capacity of 63 cubic feet, or 24 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats.
If that’s not enough and you need more, feel free to tow up to 7,716 pounds behind this luxury SUV.
Aside from the host of standard and optional creature comforts, the Cayenne Diesel is widely recognized for its fuel economy and range. When the trip indicator told me I had more than 900 kilometres before I needed to fill up, it was like I won the fuel lottery!
Its estimated fuel consumption is 10.8L/100km in the city and 6.7L/100km on the highway. I averaged 9.8L/100km combined.
Not only does the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel offer an engaging time behind the wheel, you can also stay behind the wheel for a lot longer on one fill.
Engine: 3.0L V6 diesel
Power: 240 horsepower, 406 foot-pounds of torque
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Price: base/as tested: $64,500/$97,385 (including destination charges)
Fuel economy: 10.8 litres per 100 kilometres (city), 6.7 L/100 km (hwy.)
Cargo capacity: 24 cubic feet (behind second-row seats)
Pros: very quiet, amazing fuel economy, great design
Cons: no Bluetooth audio, many buttons on the centre stack
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Read more: Cozy and quiet in the diesel Cayenne