Overall rating: 4/5
Dynamically, we've never questioned the Porsche Cayenne, and though the petrol-powered models grab the headlines, it's only the Diesel version we could heartily recommend to buyers in this part of the world. Now, finally, Porsche releases the Holy Grail - a higher performance oil-burner, the Cayenne S Diesel.
In the metal 4/5
Other than a couple of 'Diesel' badges on the front wings, there's nothing to tell the new model apart from the petrol-fuelled Porsche Cayenne S, which features silver brake callipers and black air intake grille detailing. This car is still quite colour and wheel sensitive, but is a lot less divisive than when the first generation was launched.
Inside, it's the same story, which means buyers benefit from a high-quality interior that's distinctly different from any other manufacturer's offering. There's loads of space for five adults and their luggage too.
Driving it 4/5
Not long after setting out on our test route we came across an awkward junction that required a quick squirt of the throttle to turn sharp left. Somewhat surprisingly the Cayenne's rear tyres seem to take the majority of the engine's output, resulting in an unexpected slide. It wasn't unsafe (indeed it was huge fun), but with all the safety systems in their default mode we'd have expected the electronics to be more restrictive. Later in the route through a series of uphill hairpin bends we found it was easy to repeat this and indeed possible to 'drift' the car when space allowed. Admittedly, it does feel like the tyres are being tortured when you drive the Cayenne to its limits.
Naturally this is not what the Cayenne was designed for - not even this S Diesel model - but it's an indication of how Porsche sets up its large SUV, and driven within the limits of its grip it's still more interesting to thread down a twisty road than most other cars of this size. Yet, when fitted with the optional PASM system (Porsche Active Suspension Management) the Cayenne also plays the luxury cruiser convincingly, soaking up bumps and imperfections admirably. It's even quiet and refined.
None of that is new for a Cayenne of course. It's what's under the bonnet that sets this model apart. The 4.1-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel (Porsche refers to it as a 4.2-litre for some reason, despite the 4,134cc capacity) produces 382hp at just 3,750rpm, but it's what happens below that speed that defines the car - it puts out 850Nm of torque from 2,000rpm. That's a lot of torque and goes some way to explain how the big SUV manages the 0-100km/h sprint in just 5.7 seconds. On the road this performance is very accessible, making overtaking a breeze, and no doubt German autobahn users must love it. Press the Sport button and it sounds even better with a real throaty V8 noise emanating from the exhaust.
What you get for your money 3/5
The Cayenne S Diesel costs a good deal more than the regular V6-engined Diesel model. You're paying for nearly 140hp and 300Nm of torque more and a drop in the 0-100km/h time by nigh on two seconds. Emissions and fuel consumption increase, though 218g/km and 34mpg are still impressive given the massive performance on offer. The specification is broadly similar though, including part leather, but excluding Bluetooth. And the options list, as ever with Porsche, is long, expensive and highly tempting.
If you've in the market for a Porsche Cayenne S Diesel, make sure you test drive a representative example, as there are several key driving systems that are optional. We suspect that several of these were fitted to our test car, including Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), which applies a brake to the inside rear wheel under hard cornering, resulting in more torque being distributed to the outer wheel - mimicking the action of a mechanical limited slip differential. Then there's PASM as mentioned above, plus air suspension and PCCB ceramic brakes...
Porsche's new Cayenne S Diesel is pretty much as we expected it, and as promised by the figures: it's as quick in the real world as any variant of the large SUV and retains the car's inherent cornering ability while being almost as efficient as the sensible entry-level diesel model. Depending on options, it can also be surprisingly lively and entertaining in the bends. It's certainly worth premium.