2014 Porsche Cayenne S diesel first drive review

Jan 13th

What is it?

This is the first version of the newly facelifted Porsche Cayenne that we’ve driven.

It’s now available in five distinctly different guises: as a base V6 turbo diesel, a base V6 turbo petrol, a V8 twin-turbo diesel, a V8 twin-turbo petrol and, in a month or so’s time, as a V6 petrol hybrid, too.

Porsche claims the latest Cayenne is more powerful and faster, yet more economical, than at any time in its 12-year history, in all of its myriad new guises. And to be perfectly honest, having spent some time driving the new phenomenal new S diesel variant, we’re not inclined to doubt such claims for a single second.

With a stonking new 4.2 litre twin-turbo diesel V8 beneath its bonnet that produces 380bhp and, deep breath, 626lb ft of torque, the Diesel S Cayenne is a complete rocket ship in a straight line.

With the optional Sport Chrono pack fitted and its eight-speed paddle-shift automatic gearbox set to Sport Plus mode, it can hit 62mph from rest in a mere 5.3 seconds and, even more incredibly, will waft its way to 100mph in just 12.8sec. And that makes it faster, even, than the original petrol Cayenne Turbo that so completely blew our minds on its debut in 2002.

Porsche hasn’t just stopped at the powertrain with its latest range of upgrades to the Cayenne, though. Also fresh and noteworthy are the styling updates front and rear. These include new LED lights at the back and a less deep but more potent-looking grille at the front (that’s Porsche’s claim, rather than my observation). 

Likewise, the suspension has been tweaked extensively to deliver yet more control on and off road, both electronically and via its hardware thanks to alterations to the pick-up points front and rear. 

And inside it’s now genuinely hard to find much fault with the Cayenne’s mix of quality, technology, logistics and architecture. Or its packaging, space in the rear seats and boot being as good as it gets within this class – although there isn’t quite the sensation of majesty that washes over you when you climb inside a Range Rover.

What’s it like?

The Cayenne S diesel backs up its Santa Pod-style acceleration with a combined economy figure of 35.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 209g/km.

Which, broadly speaking, means it is twice as economical as the first Cayenne Turbo, and less than half as bad for the planet into the bargain.

On the road the S diesel really is a remarkably competent car. It feels as fast as it is agile, as refined as it is rampant, if and when you find the space to bury your foot in the carpet and hold it there for a while.

It also rides far better than before in its Comfort setting thanks mainly to several software tweaks, Porsche says, and yet it feels sharper and more alert than ever in Sport.

Porsche claims that the Cayenne’s twin-turbo diesel V8 engine provides the normal advantages of a tradition diesel engine – unmatchable economy, in a nutshell – with the emotional appeal of a petrol engine.

We’d agree with that almost entirely in this extraordinary instance, but for one aspect – the fact that it won’t rev beyond 5000rpm. But then this is simply never going to happen with the diesel combustion process, what with a 16:4 compression ratio and common rail diesel injection.

In practical terms it means you have to short shift like mad when in manual mode under full throttle to avoid constantly engaging rev limiter. Everywhere else, though, it delivers the best of everything. It even sounds like a proper rumbly V8, for heaven’s sake.

Should I buy one?

At £61,474 the Cayenne S diesel represents a comparitively incredible amount of car for the money, seemingly.

Admittedly, however, its options list is long and could – if you got completely carried away – hike the price to not far short of six figures.

This aside, and whichever way you cut it, the Cayenne S diesel is a phenomenal machine. One that the good people at Land Rover might well be somewhat flummoxed by when they realise how and why it can do, what it can do.

Porsche Cayenne S diesel

Price £61,474; 0-62mph 5.4sec; Top speed 157mph; Economy 35.3mpg (combined); CO2 209g/km; Kerb weight 2215kg; Engine V8, 4134cc, twin-turbocharged, diesel; Power 380bhp at 3750rpm; Torque 626lb ft at 2000-2750rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic with paddles

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