If you fancy 911-style performance but with the ability to take the family along, too, Porsche has just introduced the Cayenne S Diesel – a car with the unique honour of being the first diesel-powered Porsche to wear an S badge. And as you’d expect from a car with such an accolade, Porsche has taken the engineering of its new performance diesel model very seriously.
For a start, instead of the 3.0-litre V6 that’s fitted to standard Cayenne diesel models, the new car gets a 376bhp 4.2-litre V8. And while the power figure is an impressive 134bhp more than the V6, it’s the 850Nm of torque – 150Nm more even than the flagship petrol-powered Cayenne Turbo – that really gets things moving.
All that torque arrives at the 18-inch alloys through an eight-speed auto gearbox and the latest Porsche Traction Management four-wheel-drive system. On light throttle loads, and under gentle acceleration, the new engine is calm and docile, but at 2,000rpm, the full 850Nm is unleashed and fires the Cayenne forward with seriously impressive acceleration, while decent brakes and smooth, direct steering help deliver a decent all-round drive.
The 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds is quick, but that doesn’t tell the full story either, as the in-gear power that’s available means that a spot of spirited overtaking is just a tiny flex of your right foot away.
The engine is sourced from Audi, but Porsche has fitted new valves and pistons for added power, while a sports exhaust gives you a really interesting noise. The engine note is vocal, but more in the way a performance petrol engine is, rather than a gruff diesel. Under hard throttle, the engine emits a satisfying growl that’s right in line with the Cayenne’s sporting pretensions.
Efficiency is also pretty impressive for such a large and fast car. The engine features a stop-start system, which is a world-first for a V8-powered diesel SUV. And while you’re unlikely to get the claimed 34mpg fuel economy if you drive aggressively, a motorway stint will see decent economy figures - particularly if you use the new adaptive cruise control - and the 100-litre fuel tank gives a decent range, too.
The only downside to the extra cruising potential is that the ride of the Cayenne is very susceptible to reacting to small ridges in the road, particularly if you opt for larger wheels, which gives a slightly jittery ride.