Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 3.0L V6
Power:
240 HP / 406 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
7.2 Seconds
Top Speed:
135 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,795 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
23.6 CU FT
MPG:
20 City / 29 HWY
Porsche Finally Brings North Americans An Oil Burner



North American purists of the Porsche brand, those who broke into tears and sobbed when a sport utility vehicle and five-door hatchback joined their beloved automaker's lineup, are going to need to suck it up once again – diesel has arrived.

While Europeans have been embracing and enjoying the torque and fuel efficiency of oil-burning Porsches since 2009 ("embracing" is actually an understatement – about 50 percent of Cayenne sales are diesel-powered overseas), the all-new Cayenne Diesel is the automaker's first non-gasoline model in our market.

Porsche flew us up to Alaska, the least densely populated state in the country, to put its latest Cayenne model through the paces amidst the region's spectacular scenery. It was a calculated move, but brilliantly played. Most thirsty SUVs require the driver to check the fuel gauge on a regular basis, but the miserly Cayenne Diesel returns 30-plus miles per gallon on the open road. Instead of staring at a moving needle, our attention turned to the melting glaciers, massive jagged mountains and abundant wildlife – but more importantly, we enjoyed a full day's worth of spirited seat time on less than half a tank.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel side view2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel front view2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel rear view

We have enjoyed a slew of gasoline-powered Cayenne models since the SUV's introduction in 2003. The diversity ranges from the entry-level Cayenne (300-horsepower, 3.6-liter VR6) to the powerful Cayenne Turbo (500-hp 4.8-liter V8). There is even a hybrid gasoline-electric model. Despite their differences and price points, all are performance oriented.

The new SUV boasts EPA numbers of 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

In contrast, the arrival of the Cayenne Diesel, a second-generation E2 chassis fitted with a diesel engine, is a distinct change of direction – it is oriented towards efficiency. The new SUV boasts EPA numbers of 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. Not only do those figures cleanly blow away the standard VR6 model's fuel economy (its EPA ratings are 16 city/23 highway), but they knock the Cayenne Hybrid (20 city/24 highway) down to second place on the environmentally friendly green podium.

Under the hood of the Cayenne Diesel is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (the engine should look familiar to Volkswagen and Audi SUV owners, as a variant of the powerplant is currently under the hood of the Touareg TDI and Q7 TDI). The Gen-II engine, unique to Porsche at the moment (Volkswagen and Audi will get it for 2013), is constructed with a vermicular graphite cast iron block and aluminum alloy cylinder heads for strength, durability and low weight. The powerplant features common rail direct injection and a variable-vane turbocharger for increased output and efficiency, and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection to reduce emissions. With a compression ratio of 16.8:1 and a maximum engine speed of 4,600 rpm, Porsche quotes 240 horsepower from 3,500-4,000 rpm and 406 pound-feet of torque between 1,750-2,500 rpm.

2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel engine

The V6 is mated to an electronically controlled eight-speed automatic transmission (Porsche calls it Tiptronic S) sending power to all four wheels. The permanent all-wheel-drive system, shared with the Cayenne Hybrid, splits torque 60 percent to the rear and 40 percent to the front under most driving conditions. If one of the wheels loses grip, an automatically self-locking center differential will transmit engine torque to the axle with the most grip. Porsche Traction Management (PTM) will also enable variable distribution of engine power to the rear of the vehicle to enhance turn-in.

With a curb weight of 4,795 pounds, Porsche conservatively estimates it will accelerate to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds.

With a curb weight of 4,795 pounds, Porsche conservatively estimates that the Cayenne Diesel will accelerate to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, with its top speed of 135 miles per hour reached in sixth gear (seventh and eighth are overdrive ratios). The SUV is rated to tow upwards of 7,700 pounds, when properly equipped, a figure that bests both the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and BMW X5.

The Cayenne Diesel mirrors the standard Cayenne in physical appearance (the only diesel badging is found on each front quarter panel) and it is configured and priced accordingly. The base price is $55,750 (plus a $975 destination charge), slightly higher than the standard model. Full power accessories, partial leather seats and 18-inch alloys are standard, but upgrading with just a few of our test vehicle's options, such as a navigation system ($3,675), air suspension and PASM ($3,980) or 21-inch Sport Edition wheels painted black ($6,505), will quickly drain the piggy bank.

2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel interior

In spite of its unique powerplant, we found that the 3.0-liter turbodiesel drove much like its gasoline counterpart (splendid news for those harboring 80's-era diesel fears).

Credit a lighter curb weight and lower gearing, as turbo lag felt nearly non-existent.

A twist of the left-mounted key fob initiated the starting sequence. Quick-heating glow plugs (necessary to start compression-induced diesel combustion) heated up to 1,800 F in less than two seconds and the engine fired up immediately. The exhaust note is nearly nonexistent. Rather deliberately, the engineers in Stuttgart have done an admirable job hiding the diesel powerplant's characteristic clatter. Lift the hood and it is evident, but it's almost imperceptible from within the cabin.

Unlike the Euro-spec first-generation Cayenne Diesel we previewed nearly three years ago, fitted with the Gen-I 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel and a six-speed automatic, the new model moved smartly from a standstill. Credit a lighter curb weight and lower gearing, as turbo lag felt nearly nonexistent. The lower gears moved the SUV briskly around town, and the engine pulled effortlessly. Despite a curb weight 300 pounds heavier than its gasoline-powered V6 sibling, and 60 fewer horses, our seat-of-the-pants impression is that the oil-burning Cayenne Diesel is quicker and more spirited at the lower end of the speedometer (there is no denying the thrust provided by an additional 111 pound-feet of torque).

2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel driving

As speeds increased, the turbodiesel effortlessly held highway velocities up and down Alaska's sloping grades. Diesel powerplants are excellent on the open road, as their engines turn over at lower speeds. And, thanks to the aforementioned torque, they downshift far less frequently than their gasoline counterparts. Passing power was adequate, but it did require the gearbox to drop a few ratios.

For those with Le Mans dreams, Porsche will allow diesel customers to add range-topping performance options.

The engine was muted on the highway, and wind noise permeating the cabin was low. Unfortunately, our test car was optioned with massive Michelin high-performance 295/35-21 summer tires on all four corners. The sticky rubber with its large tread blocks roared on the asphalt, so we'd forgo the big tires on the diesel and stick with the standard package.

In terms of driving dynamics, the Cayenne Diesel will mostly mirror that of the standard gasoline V6 model, though the diesel does carry that aforementioned weight penalty. The steering (variable ratio, speed-sensitive hydraulic) and brakes (six-piston, fixed aluminum monobloc front calipers and four-piston rear calipers over internally vented discs) are the same, as are nearly all of the other goodies. For those with Le Mans dreams, Porsche will allow diesel customers to add range-topping performance options such as Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) and Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB).

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel

As mentioned, we put the Cayenne Diesel through its paces in Alaska, spending time on paved highways, dirt roads, gravel paths and wet silt river beds. It cruised serenely at near triple-digit speeds, passed huge trucks with ease and inched its way through plenty of muck. Aside from getting very dirty and peppered with the carcasses of a zillion deceased flying insects, it brushed off everything we threw at it. In fact, with the proper wheels and studded tires, this Porsche would make an excellent all-season arctic sled.

Comparisons to the diesel competition – all German Europeans at this moment in time – are inevitable. Audi markets its Q7 3.0 TDI (turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 225 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque), BMW offers the X5 xDrive35d (twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six rated at 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque) and Mercedes-Benz peddles its ML350 BlueTEC (turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 240 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque). Styling and ergonomics aside, the Audi is the heaviest, slowest and least efficient of the pack (it's due for second-generation replacement next year), but it offers the most room. The BMW isn't any younger (its third-generation replacement will also arrive next year) and its turbine-smooth diesel is the loudest, but the X5 is also the quickest and fastest of the group. The Mercedes is the gentleman, excelling at being luxurious, well-rounded and fresh. For years, the three have owned the segment.

2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel rear 3/4 view

But now there is good reason for the competition to be very worried. A newcomer – the lightest, most fuel efficient and best handling of the group – is attempting to take a big slice out of their pie. While Porsche executives are cautious when discussing sales estimates, they are predicting an initial take-rate of just 10 percent (for the record, Q7 TDI take-rates have exceeded 40 percent since the model's launch).

Based on our positive first drive, we feel the automaker's early sales estimates for its new 2013 Porsche Cayenne likely to prove very conservative. Those new to the segment will recognize Porsche's aggressive pricing. Conquest customers, those already driving competitive brands, will focus on the sporty driving dynamics and economy of the lightweight Cayenne. Of course, Porsche is also betting that more than a few of those brand purists, the vocal owners of beloved air-cooled 914s and 911s, will purchase diesels to tow boats to the lake and race cars to the track.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      loopless
      • 2 Years Ago
      This engine is going to be kick-ass in the Q5
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great combination of performance and economy.
      GoSpeedRacerGo
      • 2 Years Ago
      cachet, not caché
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        robespierex
        • 2 Years Ago
        What's the towing capacity of your Civic?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @robespierex
          [blocked]
        cdooley30
        • 2 Years Ago
        I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or just a moron. Incase its the moron option, This is a nearly 5,000 pound SUV, not a riceboy SI. Congrats on a "sports version" of an economy car getting to 60 in the same time as an SUV. My V8 Pathfinder does 0-60 in 7 flat but the trade off is 15.5 mpg average, so I am pretty impressed with almost 30 highway. I will gladly trade .2 seconds for 10+ highway mpg gain. Next stop Cayenne Diesel, here I come.
        Gorgenapper
        • 2 Years Ago
        The Civic Si is a pretty pathetic attempt on Honda's part.
        Chris Doan
        • 2 Years Ago
        You have it the other way around, its actually quite amazing a 5000# SUV being able to match the MPG of Civic that weighs over a ton less and a much lesser drag coefficient. As for towing, that is just another line in a laundry list of things this SUV can do while a Civic can't.
        ravenosa
        • 2 Years Ago
        Not like the anemic little FWD econobox isn't pathetically torqueless enough, but you want to compare it to a diesel Porsche??? Really???
      Tweaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm still trying to figure out how a 5,000 lb vehicle that seats 5 can be considered green in any way. All the while, burning filthy diesel. And notice it won't be coming here because it won't pass emissions (Edmunds Inside Line). Is this another clue that diesel won't pass with stop/start?
        Tweaker
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tweaker
        Should have said the 4.8l won't be coming here because of emissions.
      RCheung28
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unless you plan to drive it for seven or more years, the price you're paying (car + gas) is still more than a regular V6.
        Matt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RCheung28
        Modern diesels are more about the following than the economic benefit: 1. The joy of endless torque 2. Never having to worry about finding the rare filling station with ethanol-free gas, as all diesel is thankfully free of performance-robbing alcohols 3. Getting 700+ miles to a tank without having to stop for fuel 4. Knowing that if the middle east implodes, your fuel price won't be affected as much (the U.S. refines more diesel than it can burn domestically) 4.b. In the event of the apocalypse, your car can probably burn vegetable oil or kerosene for a while 5. Being able to drive hundreds of thousands of miles without major engine repairs (although modern common-rail diesels wear out fuel pumps like tires) 6. Getting to tell your friends that you pour synthetic piss into your exhaust system (urea injection) 7. Diesel vapors are not explosive, so you can smoke while fueling up (Disclaimer: Don't actually do this)
          carney373
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matt
          Ethanol does not rob you of performance. It reduces range, but it has a higher octane rating. And you're living in a dream world if you imagine that one oil derived fuel is better than another oil derived fuel from a macro-economic or geo-strategic perspective. OPEC permanently controls the world oil market by controlling oil supply to manipulate prices.
          graphikzking
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matt
          The major advantage of diesels are the torque (especially low end) and the great suburban/highway mpg. The fuel pumps, urea, exhaust, glow plugs, cost (in Pennsylvania) are all a nuisance if you ask me. Diesel costs are directly tied to home heating oil pricing though. In the winter it goes up because more use. ( at least here in Eastern Pennsylvania it does). Diesel is sometimes .75 cents more per gallon than regular gas and it's not found in 3/4 of the gas stations here in Pennsylvania. If you are worried about an apocalypse then buy a Nissan Leaf with solar panels on your house. (I'm 1/2 way there with solar panels at least. - just holding on on the electric car until those battery prices drop). I wish VW would come out with a small pickup and throw some of these diesel engines in them. 24/35 in a small pickup would be my next truck. I'm not towing a 20,000 lb trailer. I just need something to haul the kayaks, throw the bikes in the back when they are all muddy without lifting them onto the roof. Who would rather see VW/AUDI/Porsche focus on putting this engine as a performance version of a small pickup and the standard diesel of the Jetta as the base engine.
          creamwobbly
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Matt
          Ah, point 5. Many are the ways, etc. Point 4b., Also pond scum. We're still waiting for this to take off, but it looks like the major refiners are ready to do it in the event of dino-diesel shortages.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RCheung28
        [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      stp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Better fuel economy than my Highlander Hybrid, with 10x the driving & handling prowess. Me likey. And anyone calling the Cayenne a 'poseur-mobile' has likely never sat in one, driven one, or had the resources to own one. Funny how those of us who can't are quick to throw stones at those who can (p.s. I'm in the 'can't' group). Hey Matt, do you also call into sports radio to rail on how your crappy local pro & college teams should be operated? Yeah, I thought so....
        Matt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @stp
        Anyone that can afford a Touareg can afford the Cayenne, since they mostly overlap in pricing (Porsche just offers a ton of esoteric options). The 'poseur-mobile' comment stems from the fact that Porsche is a sports car brand, and there is no debate that the premium associated with a 911/Cayman/Boxster buys you an appropriate amount of sports car heritage. I argue that someone who pays for the esteemed Porsche sports car heritage on their crossover family hauler could be fairly described as a "poseur", but then again I think the same about anyone who buys any other Porsche with an automatic transmission. Branding aside, there is no doubt that the Cayenne/Touareg is an amazing vehicle.
      GoSpeedRacerGo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I kinda doubt that the target market (mostly suburban housewives from what I've seen) could give a rat's a$$ about fuel mileage, torque, handling, off-road capability or anything other than the nameplate caché. But if it allows for more trips to the mall per tankful, why not?
        Robdaemon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GoSpeedRacerGo
        Following along your antiquated stereotypes, you're neglecting their husbands who also have to drive it.
          Ben Lee
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Robdaemon
          supposedly, the wives make the car decision
        francinela
        • 2 Years Ago
        @GoSpeedRacerGo
        For a smart shopper that is set on an SUV, this is a very good one. Everyone cares about MPG these days. Gas prices cut into everyone's budget, unless they're shopping for a Cayenne Turbo. They care about torque because of how it feels, that's why people like V8s (especially in luxury cars). I think diesel is a fantastic offering to the luxury market.
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      The only Cayenne I would get is the Base V6. It is the only one with a Manual Transmission. It gets about the same performance as the diesel for about $8000 less. Only 22 mpg highway, but $8000 would soften that blow.
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        According to fueleconomy.gov, you'd spend about $950 more per year in fuel for the gasoline Cayenne than the diesel using their standard method of calculation. That $6,900 price difference (looking at base to base prices) will erode as each year goes by. Also, $3000 of the price difference is due to the mandatory addition of the 8spd automatic on the diesel.
      CWT092079
      • 2 Years Ago
      Put this motor in the Carrera 4 please and thank you!
      mitytitywhitey
      • 2 Years Ago
      The next model up should be the 313hp biturbo diesel that Audi sells in the A6 Allroad overseas. But I'd settle for this engine as aggressively priced as it is. Well done VAG.
        montoym
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mitytitywhitey
        Or this one, http://www.autoblog.com/2012/09/12/porsche-cayenne-s-diesel-to-debut-in-paris-w-video/ But, we won't see that one, nor will we likely see the Biturbo either. Nice to dream though.
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