A Porsche SUV powered by a VW diesel engine. If you think the very notion of this would have Dr. Ferdinand Porsche spinning in his crypt, you’d be wrong. Being an engineer first and foremost, and having started the Porsche diesel-powered tractor program in the 1930s, the good doctor would surely approve of this all-wheel-drive oil-burner.
The fact that it is arguably the best Cayenne in the stable doesn’t hurt.
New for 2013, and carrying a base price of $64,500 (it’s the second most affordable vehicle in the Cayenne lineup), the Cayenne diesel could very well become the bestselling Cayenne model here in Canada. We seem to like our premium diesel SUVs (the Canadian take-rate on the Mercedes ML- and GL-Class is about 70 percent diesel), and with its competitive sticker, fine driving experience, and parsimonious fuel consumption, it presents itself as all the Cayenne you’d ever reasonably need.
I say “reasonably” because there will always be the faction who require the conceptually questionable but undeniably nutty-fast Turbo models.
This is not to imply the all-wheel-drive Cayenne Diesel is slow. The 3.0L twin-turbo V6 may only produce 240 hp, but the wallop of 406 lb-ft from 1,750 rpm means there is insistent urge under your right foot at all times. Throttle response is a bit lazy however, but selecting sport mode mitigates this issue and calls up a more aggressive shift map for the smooth eight-speed Tiptronic that keeps the engine in the sweet spot of its torque band. This, of course, will not help fuel economy.
You can shift the Tiptronic manually but proper shift paddles are not found here – just those annoying push-me-pull-you thingies on the steering wheel spokes that Porsche has blessedly phased out of its sports cars. It’s a moot point really because the tranny works beautifully on its own.
Porsche has tweaked this VW/Audi turbodiesel V6 with its own injectors and variable-vane turbo technology (thus the extra 15 hp), and as with the Touareg and Q7, this oil-burner beats its competitors when it comes to NVH. Unless you’re standing beside the hood, you’d be hard pressed to know this is a compression engine. The interior is totally devoid of any tell-tale vibration or audible clatter.
The cabin has an intimate feel with that big console awash with buttons rising up towards the dash. The comfortable leather seats are bolstered just enough to let you know that, yes indeed, you are driving a Porsche. Standard fare is a sunroof, powered liftgate, good sounding 10-speaker audio, Bluetooth, Homelink, trip computer, and heated/retractable mirrors. It’s a very pleasing and ergonomic effort, although a persistent buzz somewhere in the dash was a bit disconcerting.