THE BOXSTER is extolled and the 911 drowns in a sea of purple prose, but it’s the Cayenne SUV that keeps Porsche viable, by accounting for 50 percent of all sales globally.
And just to rub the purists’ upturned noses in it, the biggest seller is the humble V6 diesel.
The good news is that Porsche has obviously been mulling over this issue, hence the arrival of its first ‘performance diesel’. As such things go, the S Diesel is a pretty easy proposition to understand: take a Cayenne S petrol V8, unbolt the engine and drop in the Audi 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 already used by the Q7 and A8.
Of course, to live up to Porsche’s position within the VW Group hierarchy – topping Audi, no matter what – the DOHC 24-valve engine has been tweaked to kick out an extra 23kW and 50Nm, taking outputs to a sizeable 281kW and stupendous 850Nm. No diesel SUV boasts a higher torque number.
Even so, the S Diesel doesn’t accelerate with wild abandon. Combined with a smoothly slurring ZF eight-speed auto and 2195kg kerb weight, it has a determined irrevocability. Porsche claims 0-100km/h in 5.7sec, but it’s the 13.8sec 0-160km/h and even the 25.7sec 1000m sprint that say much about its irresistible urgency.
Add in an 8.3L/100km claimed fuel consumption (aided by stop-start), theoretical fuel range beyond 1000km and 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity and it’s easy to see this Cayenne’s appeal.
So what’s not to like? The ride was a tad sharp, which might have been partly the multi-mode air suspension or the winter tyres fitted when we drove it in Austria; the quality interior is nominally five seats but really only four of them are useable. And being a Porsche, the S Diesel is expensive. At $155,500 it poses just as much threat to other Cayennes as it does to rival brands. It sits $3600 above the petrol S and $8900 below the slow-selling petrol-electric hybrid. Only rabid CO2 considerations would prompt you to buy the latter over the Diesel.
And if you must have a nat-atmo petrol V8 Cayenne, opt for the GTS, which is the best driving Cayenne of them all and priced identically to the hybrid. Or, of course, you could just go for the Diesel V6 and save $40,000. Most Cayenne buyers do.
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