Posted Dec 12th 2012 2:59PM
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-litre 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 (0-96 km/h) 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 US$71,500 (We're not getting S version here but the Diesel S-less version is $64,500 in Canada), or just over 25 per cent more than the S-less Cayenne Diesel Michael left in Alaska.
If, that is, the Cayenne S Diesel was destined for North America, 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-litre 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 2,270 kilogram (5,005-pound) curb weight, this SUV can easily return an average of 25 miles per gallon EPA (9.4 L/100km).
- 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 3,494 kg (7,700 pounds). It feels like the Cayenne S Diesel would prefer five passengers and about 5,443 kg (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.