Overall rating: 5/5
The new Cayenne S Diesel combines pace that's nearly a match for the mighty Turbo model with the promise of greater economy - and hence less frequent fuel stops. You'll not want to stop either, as you'll be having so much fun.
In the Metal:
New lights front and rear, revised front wings, bonnet, boot lid and a re-profiled roof spoiler identify this Cayenne as a 2015 model. The changes might sound extensive, but it's a mild refresh looks-wise, so the new Cayenne is not such a radical departure from its predecessor.
More so inside. With the exception of the new 918-inspired steering wheel you'll be hard pushed to spot any differences. That wheel does bring paddle shifters as standard though, Porsche quietly consigning the old wheel spoke buttons to the bin marked 'bad ideas'.
If the styling changes are subtle then so too are the revisions to the driving experience. Unlike the rest of the 2014 model line-up there's no sizeable hike in power for the S Diesel model, it creeping up a couple of hp to a maximum of 385hp. Torque stays the same at a faintly ridiculous 850Nm, all that twist driving through a conventional eight-speed automatic - no twin-clutch PDK systems here. There have been some chassis changes, Porsche's engineers managing to stiffen everything up for greater control, yet achieving that without creating a decrease in ride comfort.
There's the option to fiddle with the damper settings via PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), but there are few roads in the world that have the tarmac topography to allow anything other than Comfort, unless you prefer a busier ride that is. The Sport and Sport+ buttons further up the ante with the response of the engine, transmission and assistance systems.
Do so and the S Diesel isn't just doing a credible attempt at aping a sports car, it to all intents and purposes is one. Turn-in is super quick, the steering's weight and response excellent, while the Cayenne S Diesel happily allows power oversteer exiting bends. That's incredible for something so big and heavy, the way it can be chucked about never anything less than extraordinary. There are few cars with this Cayenne's sheer breadth of ability; the S Diesel even removes the need to keep a 911 in the garage for weekend thrills.
What you get for your Money:
For just two thousand more than the petrol-fuelled S the Cayenne S Diesel brings more power, significantly better economy and reduced CO2 output. That 850Nm of torque is difficult to argue with either; if you're towing anything (literally anything) then look no further.
The S Diesel may be mighty, but the Turbo still heads the range in the Cayenne line-up. It brings 550hp to the range, though falls short of the S Diesel's torque output with a 'measly' 750Nm. It's also about another third on the price of an S Diesel. We're at a loss as to why you'd bother.
It's hardly surprising Porsche didn't bother doing much to the S Diesel's powertrain in its 2014 updates. It didn't need to. It's an incredible all-rounder, with palatable economy to boot. There's no need to look at any other model in the range presently - though the forthcoming plug-in e-Hybrid might suit those city dwellers with its potential for electric only running. It could be priced at exactly the same point as the S Diesel, too.