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Black pepper. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

Black pepper
Ever thought you'd see the day a Porsche badge would adorn a diesel-fuelled off-roader? It has arrived and the world still turns.

   



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| First Drive | Berkshire, England | Porsche Cayenne Diesel |

Yup, you can now buy a car that is both diesel-powered and of sport utility vehicle flavour with a Porsche badge on its high-set bonnet. The Cayenne Diesel has arrived. A word to all you dedicated Porsche enthusiasts around the world lamenting the potential dilution of the brand: Porsche is one of the most profitable car makers on the planet and its continued success is thanks to knowing what its customers want and well, right now that means a diesel SUV.

In the Metal

Nobody will guess you've opted for the new diesel-powered Cayenne to begin with. There are no external clues whatsoever and if you opt for some of the larger alloys on offer everyone will assume it's one of the sportier models in the range. Last year's facelift improved the Cayenne's cause no end, and though it could never be described as pretty, it could never be confused with any other car.

Peer inside, and you may spot that the instruments have been minutely changed, the new rev counter face reflecting the lower redline of the diesel engine. Otherwise there's as much space as ever, if not quite the same 'hewn from solid' feel you get in a 911 - or a Cayman for that matter.

What you get for your Money

The basic Cayenne Diesel starts at 39,404, which represents a jump of about 2,600 over the entry-level V6 petrol model. About 1,700 of that difference is accounted for by the standard fitment of the Tiptronic S gearbox to the diesel model and the remainder should soon be paid back by lower fuel and tax bills. Porsche offers a massive list of tempting options though, including the effective - if expensive - air suspension, which has several settings (Comfort, Normal and Sport) and an adjustable ride height.

Driving it

Turbodiesel technology has moved forward apace recently, with novel features such as cooled exhaust gas recirculation, diesel particulate filters and high-pressure injection cleaning up its image and items like the Cayenne's variable turbine geometry turbocharger allowing engineers to reduce low-speed turbo lag without sacrificing top-end power. Porsche borrows the 3.0-litre V6 from VW and makes few changes other than a new induction system to suit the Cayenne's engine bay.

Power peaks at 236bhp, but it's the 406lb.ft of torque that matters most and that's available at just 2,000rpm. Thanks to this low-end grunt the Cayenne Diesel beats the Tiptronic S-equipped petrol V6 model to 62mph, though its top speed is lower. In practise, there is no need to override the automatic's calibration with manual gearchanges, as the low-end urge is enough for most situations and a Sport button alters the strategy in pursuit of more urgency anyway.

Our test car was fitted with the optional air suspension, which is highly effective at either cruising or tightening up the body control to allow the driver to have some fun. Thanks to large tyres and the advanced four-wheel drive there is rarely a lack of traction and as standard the torque split favours the rear wheels for a sportier feel. It's not surprising that there's precious feel through the steering wheel rim, but Porsche's engineers have managed to give the Cayenne good manners and for an SUV it's really good to drive. Only the BMW X5 and X6 can compare really.

All that is true of all Cayennes. The diesel engine is well suppressed, thanks in part to a thicker windscreen, and only really audible if you have the windows down or your foot is planted on the floor.

Worth Noting

We still think of Porsche as a small producer of cars, but each of its model ranges is actually quite large, allowing it to appeal not just to different preferences, but crucially to different budgets. The entry-level Cayenne for instance starts at about 36,800 and prices rise to nearly 89,000 for the Turbo S model. In between sit the Cayenne S, S Transsyberia, GTS and the 'regular' Turbo. That's an awful lot of SUVs from a company that is renowned for its sportscars.

Summary

Diesel is used by about 90% of all SUVs sold in Europe, so it would be foolish for Porsche not to listen to its buyers' wishes for a Cayenne Diesel. The Touareg's 3.0 V6 TDI engine is perfectly suited to the large SUV, endowing it with the right mix of performance and economy for the price and in a manner still befitting the Porsche badge. No doubt it'll contribute to Porsche's bottom line in a significant manner.

Shane O' Donoghue - 27 Feb 2009



  www.porsche.co.uk    - Porsche road tests
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2009 Porsche Cayenne specifications:
Price: 39,404 on-the-road (93,270 in Ireland).
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 133mph
Combined economy: 30.4mpg
Emissions: 244g/km
Kerb weight: 2240kg

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.



2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Cayenne. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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