2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Published on April 04, 2013

Published on April 04, 2013

Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press

Before 2003 if the only two cars in your garage were Porsches you wouldn't likely be seen as a pragmatist, but these days the two Porsches could include a fuel-efficient SUV plus a four-door sport sedan. You might even be seen as an environmentalist if you opted for one of the Stuttgart brand's hybrid models.

The Cayenne Hybrid joined conventionally powered V6, V8 and V8 Turbo iterations two years ago, and this year Porsche added an unlikely albeit ideal alternative, clean diesel power. The 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, pulled from Porsche's new parent Volkswagen, is the same as offered in the namesake brand's Touareg TDI and Audi Q7 TDI offshoot, although Porsche's upped output by 15 horsepower for a total of 240 while seeing no need to increase torque that's already rated at 406 lb-ft.

If you think the Cayenne Diesel's ample thrust should cause it to rocket away from stoplights as quickly as a V8-powered Cayenne S that only puts out 369 lb-ft of torque you'd be right, at least within the first few seconds. Within the next three seconds the Cayenne S taps into its deep reserves of power to pass 100km/h in only 5.9 seconds whereas the diesel needs another 1.7 to achieve the same feat, passing 100km/h in 7.6 seconds flat. But really, in real life who's counting? Can you possibly tell that the new diesel is exactly 0.1 seconds slower than the gasoline-powered Cayenne V6? Certainly there's something to be said for seat of the pants experience, and to that end the Cayenne Diesel will shoot forward from standstill quickly enough for most, as it did for me, while its engine and exhaust notes were surprisingly stimulating. Maybe it's that I'm getting so used to direct-injection gasoline engines (which sound a lot like diesels) that this new turbo-diesel actually sounds sporty, or possibly Porsche managed to tune it to play mechanical music, but either way it won't leave enthusiasts feeling flat.

Porsche mated it to its ultra-efficient eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and provides steering wheel buttons to shift through the gears. They're not as engaging as regular paddles, but once you get used to upshifting via either spoke by pushing forward with your inner palms and pulling back to downshift with your fingers it becomes second nature.

Likewise this is a very easy SUV to drive quickly. It glides along the highway at Autobahn speeds so effortlessly that you'd better keep an eye on the speedometer so as not to pay penalty from the regulators, and likewise it winds through circuitous backroads with the kind of Porsche-engineered excellence we've come to know from the brand, no matter the model being offered. Three driving modes are available, ranging between Comfort and Sport, with the latter upping performance considerably albeit without reducing ride quality too much.

Despite its superb handling you wouldn't be too far off the mark by naming the Cayenne Diesel as Porsche's least sporting model. The zero to 100km/h time mentioned is slower than any other vehicle in the brand's lineup, albeit by a hair, and being a Cayenne, it's more utilitarian than anything else Porsche offers. Truthfully, the very existence of this clean diesel alternative has more to do with meeting ever-stricter fuel economy regulations than it does burning up the asphalt, but to Porsche's credit it's still really fun to drive and opens the brand up to the aforementioned pragmatist in a way never before possible.

In case you weren't aware, Porsches hold their value. This one, already priced well at $66,615 including freight and pre-delivery prep should depreciate less after three years than something upwards of six figures, and the very fact that running costs will be kept to a minimum thanks to claimed city / highway fuel economy ratings of 10.8 / 6.7 L/100km respectively should help it maintain if not increase its overall relevance in years to come if fuel prices continue to climb, especially when factoring in that the regular gasoline-powered Cayenne V6 can only manage a rated 12.9 city and 8.6 highway. So you see, this Porsche is very practical.

Then there's its people and cargo carrying considerations. It seats five comfortably, four luxuriantly. Yes, when the latest Cayenne was introduced two years ago it benefited from the same higher level of quality and design that ushered in the fabulous Panamera, and this Diesel, despite its lower price point, gets all of the same upgrades befitting pricier Cayenne models. It's a beautiful piece of automotive art from the outside in, the latter boasting all the expected soft-touch plastics, brushed metalwork, deep rich wood accents, sporty yet lush leather seats and trim, and plush carpets. The five circular dials that make up the primary gauge package are enough to get the adrenal glands flowing on their own, but the real eye candy is the Cayenne's centre stack, which truly isn't a stack at all but rather a gracefully canted matte and gloss black surface filled with a bevy of chrome enhanced buttons, switches and of course shift lever. It's all finished off with a cherry on top, or rather the pièce de résistance in any Porsche interior, the analog clock above the dash that would cause any horologist to do a double take. The new Cayenne interior is pretty to say the least, made all the more beautiful when stuffed full of family and gear.

There's nothing particularly innovative about the Cayenne's five-door liftback layout other than the previously unfathomable concept (before 2003 at least) of hauling up to five adults and 668 litres what-have-you in a Porsche (or 1,781 litres when you kick out the rear seat passengers and flip down the second-row seats). Then again, its sliding and reclining rear seats are more comfortable than average and 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks particularly flexible. That you can load it up with family, friends and cargo and head off to the summer cabin or ski resort with on- and off-road confidence thanks to permanent all-wheel drive and Porsche Traction Management, is a bonus. And yes I admit, being a true 4x4 fan (I was raised in the wild by an outdoor enthusiast dad) I miss the old Cayenne's unabashed off-roading prowess, but I'm guessing the new more efficient car-like Cayenne is more suitable to the brand's refined clientele. My tester included a height-adjustable self-leveling air suspension system along with Porsche Active Suspension Management for an additional $4,550, which certainly helps off the beaten path, but a true off-roader it's not as there's no longer a bull low gear set.

Refinement in mind my tester featured a Premium package that boosts the price up $8,170 while adding bi-xenon headlamps with Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) for seeing around corners, automatically dimming exterior and interior mirrors, navigation, front and rear ParkAssist, Power Steering Plus, 14-way front seats with three-way memory, and a tilt and slide powered moonroof. This combined with a full array of standard features such as dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights, cruise control, reverse camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone with audio streaming, a seven-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system, auxiliary and USB ports, Porsche Stability Management, six standard airbags, and much more.

And by the way, Porsche finally offers optional proximity sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, which is well worth the price of entry for convenience' sake alone. My tester didn't have it, instead forcing me to fumble with the electronic key fob to get in, especially impractical once arms were filled with water bottle, coffee thermos, sunglasses, etc., so I would've appreciated simply touching the door handle to open and then pressing the left of steering column-mounted start button to get going.

Other available options include adaptive cruise control, a 14-speaker Bose surround sound system, a 1000-watt Burmester audio upgrade, Online Services, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with dual screens integrated into the backs of the front headrests, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, ceramic composite brakes, Lane Change Assist, rear side airbags, and the list goes on and on.

Personally, as much as I like top-tier features the base Cayenne Diesel is nicely equipped as it is and would do me just fine. Its efficiency would be welcome too, and practical price point puts it in the same league as other premium SUVs yet ups the ownership experience with greater prestige, performance and reliability; Porsche ranked second amongst all brands in J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Dependability Study. When combined with a higher than average residual value it's looking more and more like the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel just might be the pragmatist's ultimate SUV.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, SUV, Porsche, 2013, Cayenne Diesel, $50,000 - $74,999, Midsize,

Organizations: Porsche

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