Porsche Cayenne Diesel blends destined for success

Mary Welch | March 26, 2013

Driving the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel reminds us of three things: the wonders of German engineering, Steve Jobs and Bradley Cooper.

Let’s start with German engineering. Precise, intelligent, intense thinking and impeccable engineering define Porsches and makes them so desirable. It’s obvious that the Cayenne Diesel benefits from the best of German engineering. The Cayenne Diesel was first seen at the 2012 New York Auto Show and we predict as more people read about and test drive this wonder, they will drive one home. Actually, a lot of people are doing just that.

Porsche’s gamble on entering the SUV market was met with disdain by whiny car aficionados who like their Porsches sporty and fast. Well, it seems like a lot of soccer moms like their SUVs sporty and fast as well. The Cayenne carved out almost 50 percent of Porsche’s U.S. sales in 2012, according to Autodata, and the new diesel hit the market like lightening. Even though it was only available for four months last year, it accounted for more than 10 percent of the Cayenne sales. Reportedly Porsche expects one-third of its Cayenne sales to be diesels. We won’t argue. Expect to see a lot more Cayenne diesels on the highway this year. It’s that great of a car.

The car runs on a 3-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine with a common-rail injection system. The turbocharger features Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG), which works its engineering magic and electronically varies the turbine blades continuously adjust to prime top performance. The car boasts 240 horsepower and maximum torque of 406 lb-ft.

This is a car made for road trips. It goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds. And, while diesel fuel is slightly more expensive than regular gas, on the highway, the diesel kicks in and gas mileage is great. On the highway it gets 29 miles per gallon; 19 in the city for a combined 23 miles per hour. Annual fuel costs are $2,500 and it’ll cost you $900 more in fuel costs over five years to drive the Cayenne diesel. We suggest eating out less and wearing last year’s fashion to pay for the fuel. This car is so worth it.

We resisted the urge to drive to Florida and back just so we can drive it on the highway. We actually made it as far as Gwinnett and we cruised up I-85 without a care in the world -- except for the fact we were going close to 90 miles per hour and it felt like 40. I can’t image how fast you have to drive this car to make it feel like you’re speeding.

The impeccable German engineering delivers a smooth car that delivers a sharp, quiet, responsive, precision ride where bumps disappear and corners hardly matter.

Once one opens the door, one will see the driver-centric cockpit common to all Porsches. A sense of immense power, control and excitement is felt as one sits in the thickly bolstered seats that fit perfectly. It feels and looks rich and, as the car’s engineering speaks to the road, the interior speak to the passengers.The seats in the Cayenne models are practical, comfortable and sporty, just like the rest of the interior. Front seats come with 2-way head restraints and (again making it perfect for long road trips) also feature an 8-way electric adjustment including fore/aft, height, squab length and squab/backrest angle settings. One gets the feeling that even after a marathon ride, one would get out of the car refreshed without feeling that muscle atrophy was setting in.

The driver and passenger feel is something that Steve Jobs would appreciate -- if not design himself. Of course, the centerpiece is the Porsche Communication Management (PCM), which is the central control system for all information and communication functions.

The centerpiece is a seven-inch high-resolution touchscreen display that is operated by a rotary push-button control. The menu layout is incredibly clear and clean (Job’s signature look) with no more than five entries per page for easy reading and operating.

Radio functions comprise 42 presets, an FM twin-tuner with RDS frequency diversity, which continuously searches the airwaves for the best possible signal from the selected radio station, and dynamic autostore. The sound systems boasts 10 loudspeakers and a total output of 100 watts, again perfect for cranking up the volume on the highway.

Our favorite feature (again, think Steve Jobs) is the park assist that tells you how close you are to the curb, the parked car behind you and other nearby obstacles. Most cars have this but Porsche takes it a step further. In addition to seeing the car’s surrounding, a car pops up on the screen that shows the predicted course of the vehicle based on the current position of the steering wheel. So very cool.

The Cayenne Diesel is a welcome addition to the Porsche family. It has so many impressive characteristics and enough to make it a valued alternative to Porsche’s Cayenne branch (Cayenne, Turbo, Turbo S, S Hybrid, S, GTS). Priced at $56,725, it’s quite reasonable, although even Porsche says that the options are so irresistible that it expects most of the diesels will sell for around $70,000. Again, so worth it.

Oh, why does the Porsche Cayenne Diesel make us think of Bradley Cooper? Easy. The Cayenne Diesel is simply gorgeous.