Porsche is certainly no stranger to controversy. When it first introduced its Cayenne, not only was the idea of a Porsche SUV a large pill to swallow, but it quickly followed that up by introducing its first turbodiesel model – a mere few years earlier it had vowed it would never do so… That said, despite the first-generation Cayenne’s awkward looks, it sold well, and even though the turbodiesel model only reached South Africa late in its product life-cycle, they were quickly snapped up.
The latest generation, however, shows just how far the company has come, and if the fact that Porsche SA can’t keep up with the current demand for its diesel derivative is anything to go by, then it’s clear to see that the general public has more than warmed to the idea of a SUV Porsche. Perhaps, they’ve simply been distracted by that other controversial Porsche, the Panamera…
But I digress… The current local line-up is made up of the Cayenne 3,6-litre V6, the Cayenne S, the Cayenne Turbo, the Cayenne hybrid and the Cayenne diesel. At a recent Porsche function in Cape Town, a few of the ladies in the industry were able to drive the entire Cayenne range. While I can say a kind sentence or two about all the models on offer, it is the diesel that impressed me the most.
The route between the newly re-launched Porsche Centre in Cape Town and our lunch venue was made up of open roads and mountain passes – the best kind, in other words.
This 176 kW diesel engine is impressively refined and with 550 N.m of torque available from as early on as 2 250 r/min, there is more than adequate grunt available from early on – as soon as my foot touched the throttle, the Cayenne was off with quite a thrust.
I’m usually overly cautious when it comes to handling an SUV – the higher centre of gravity usually haunts me, but this Cayenne showed its Porsche genes by lapping up the twisty roads around Cape Town. The steering is precise and there’s nice weighting, too. There is little hint of body roll and that usual top-heavy sensation you find in most large SUVs was non-existent.
It would have been nice to see how this vehicle would cope with a bit of off-road action, but let’s be honest – those in the market for a Cayenne seldom plan to take their precious Porsches off-road. However, I’ve got enough off-road experience with the Cayenne (for our October 2010 road test of the Cayenne S) to guess that the Cayenne diesel would manage very well indeed, especially with that torque figure.
For this diesel model, Porsche claims a zero-to-100 km/h time of 7,9 seconds on the way to a top speed of 218 km/h. Economy and emissions are said to be 7,4-litres/100 km and 195 g/km of CO2 respectively.
At R680 000, the Cayenne diesel does not cost that much more than its closest rivals. Considering the badge on the nose and likely resale value, it is actually good value for money. No wonder that Porsche can hardly keep up with demand.
As far as the other Cayenne models go, I’ll sum each one up in a sentence:
Cayenne V6 (R645 000): Adequate, but I’d rather fork out an extra R35 000 for the diesel.
Cayenne S (R775 000): The pick of the petrol models. Good value pricing. (see CAR October 2010).
Cayenne hybrid (R830 000): The amount of torque that kicks in from under 1 000 r/min took me quite by surprise.
Cayenne Turbo (R1 430 000): A bit over the top. The “lesser” Cayenne S is more than enough…