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Oil crisis? Image by Porsche.

Oil crisis?
Is the Porsche Cayenne Diesel a forward thinking reality check, or greatest bastardisation of a brand ever?
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From February next year the queues at Chelsea diesel pumps will be significantly longer thanks to this, the Porsche Cayenne Diesel. If ever there was a 'business case' car, here it is.

If you're the type who likes to spend your weekends in the pub debating the pros and cons of air-cooled versus water cooled 911s while drinking real ale and carefully caressing your moustache, you're likely to feel very, very sick right now. But you can't say you weren't warned - it's been coming for a while, and now it's here: the Porsche diesel SUV.

Porsche claims the Cayenne Diesel is a riposte to "changed legal regulations, resulting in tax incentives for vehicles with diesel engines," but we all know what that really means: this beast will sell like cakes that are hot.

Let's put our prejudices aside for a moment and take it for what it is. It's ugly; there's no getting away from that; like a 911 stretched upwards using Photoshop. However, it's a physics-defying technological tour de force and it makes a mockery of its mammoth size and weight on the road. And now it's cheaper to run too. Plus, much more importantly, it's relatively guilt-free.

That is really relative, mind, because the Cayenne Diesel still puts out 244g/km of CO2 and does only 30.4mpg combined. It's worse than a hot hatch, but still miles better than the 358g/km and 19mpg of the Cayenne Turbo. (And we'd eat our hemp hats if even one Cayenne Turbo owner has got anywhere near 19mpg from a tank of super unleaded.)

The performance case is compelling too: the Diesel serves up a massive 406lb.ft of torque and 240bhp, and because it's twist that governs acceleration, the new Cayenne will get from 0-10mph quicker than most of the other cars inside the London congestion zone. The Audi-sourced 3.0-litre diesel engine is the same as that found in the Q7 SUV, so expect a similar 0-62mph time as the 8.5 seconds posted by that, perhaps slightly quicker.

Americans still hate diesel though, so this Cayenne is destined only for Europe at present, where it's bound to burgeon Porsche SUV sales even further. Despite being the archetypal evil Chelsea tractor, Porsche sold more than 45,000 Cayennes over the last financial year. And with a price tag of about £40,000 putting the Diesel just above the base 3.6-litre model, it will without doubt become the best seller - despite its CO2 rating putting it in the second highest tax band next year - good for a £415 per year tax charge. Ouch.

Still, what price for a clear conscience? And for a sweet Porsche track day at Silverstone, which comes as standard. It's not the last of the clean Cayennes either - there's a Hybrid on the way before the decade's out. How times have changed.

Mark Nichol - 21 Nov 2008

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Porsche.    - Porsche road tests
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