Porsche purists should look away now – this is the first drive of the company’s first-ever diesel production car. And it gets worse – the car in question isn’t a 911 with an oil-burning flat-six slung between the rear wheels. Rather, Porsche has fitted its first diesel engine – actually an Audi-derived unit in a (whisper it) vee-configuration – into the Cayenne, the awfully ugly SUV that Greenpeace loves to hate.
Then again, perhaps it’s best for Porschephiles that Dr Diesel’s oily invention only sullies the most un-Porsche of Porsches.
So Porsche’s new Cayenne diesel isn’t any good?
Far from it. We have to begrudgingly admit that the Cayenne can handle – Porsche performed a physics miracle when it created the two-tonne 4x4. It’ll grip like you won’t believe, brake like a true Porsche and the clarity of the steering, while no where near that of a 911, will be a revelation for other SUV drivers.
But what about this oil-burning engine?
Ah yes, that thing. It’s a 3.0-litre V6 bought and brought in from Audi, with 237bhp and a hefty 405lb ft delivered from 2000 to 2250rpm. Which makes the Cayenne V6 TD acceptably quick, with a respectable 8.3 second run to 62mph and enough oomph for the daily commute - though you might crave more torque in certain situations, such as accelerating off short motorway slip roads for instance. There's also a Sport button (unique to the Porsche) that sharpens the throttle response, while Stuttgart has given the six-speed auto and (optional £1931) air suspension a tweak too.
Sadly, the diesel isn't particularly tuneful for a Porsche and it’s not that quiet either; it certainly can’t compete with the likes of BMW’s brilliant engines. An X5 3.0-litre diesel will do 34.9mpg and 214g/km, to the Porsche’s 30.4 and 244g/km, and over nearly 400 (admittedly fast) motorway miles we only averaged 23mpg.
What about downsides?
Besides the looks, the average engine, and the death threats you’ll receive from both Porsche purists and 4x4-haters? The Cayenne might be a big car, but it feels relatively small inside, with a crappy old dash and antiquated infotainment system. Enough?
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The Cayenne (unbelievably) currently accounts for half of Porsche’s sales globally. To the average man or woman in the street a diesel option now gives them the chance to claim fuel consumption figures in the 20s and prove they’re not causing global warming.
But look a little closer and you’ll pay nearly £3000 more for the diesel Cayenne over the 3.6-litre petrol with its 286bhp and 284lb ft. Plus diesel costs more than petrol. Build us a little sports car instead Porsche, and we’ll make the kids walk to school. And if you must have a more frugal Cayenne? Both an improved diesel and petrol hybrid are in the pipeline.
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