Not so long ago, our Michael Harley drove the Porsche Cayenne Diesel up in flannel-lovin' Alaska, and he returned home safely from that expedition pretty well convinced that Porsche knows how to create a really heavy, mountain-topping 4x4. In fact, since the test for the first generation of the Cayenne Diesel back in 2008, it's been clear: The diesel version of the Spice Islands Porsche is among its very best.

I'm not taking away from the spectacularity of the latest Turbo S or GTS Cayennes, but when it comes to traditional 4x4 duties, a gnarly turbodiesel's progressive power delivery and spitting torque make for great satisfaction. And a 4.2-liter biturbo V8 diesel is just bound to do something right for you. Cue this drive of the Cayenne S Diesel.

Over the standard Cayenne Diesel, the S's horsepower is up by 137, torque is up by 221 pound-feet, and straight-line oil-burning acceleration to 60 miles per hour requires just 5.6 seconds, maybe less. For this additional chutzpah, you'd be staring at a window sticker with a starting price of around $71,500, or just over 25-percent more than seen on the monroney for the S-less Cayenne Diesel Michael left in Alaska.

If, that is, the Cayenne S Diesel was destined for the US, which it sadly is not.

Driving Notes
  • Whether you really like or really hate the Cayenne, I have to say that since the first-generation packaging got itself fully sorted around 2006, this interior is about the most robust and finely crafted cabin in the automotive business. Not a flabby or overstuffed anything in sight, though; it's all muscle with an undeniable sense of premium quality.
  • Check out the exhaust tips to hear the voice of the Cayenne S Diesel. As one Cayenne team member asked us, "It's not at all like a diesel, is it?" And it's almost entirely true that there's almost no hint of a diesel mill under the hood. Blipping the throttle and accelerating hard stresses this point even further. Pretty impressive (see video).
  • Whereas for the most part the exterior still gives me troubles, from certain angles, this thing looks pretty incredible. The front three-quarter view is the best angle on the Cayenne, while I feel the rear three-quarter could also be as great if it weren't for the taillight design on this generation.
  • The 377 horsepower peaking at 3,750 rpm is impressive, but it's the towering 627 pound-feet of torque punching things forward between 2,000 and 2,750 rpm (almost all of it available from 1,650 rpm) that can separate my retinas.
  • A 4,400-rpm redline is a reality on this 4.2-liter V8 biturbo diesel. That rev limit is no limitation at all, though, as far as holding the throttle in a given gear for a long time.
  • The eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission's action and the Porsche Traction Management chassis has reached near perfection here. The half-step gears here help smooth things while also improving fuel efficiency for cruising.
  • Despite this storm of energy and the vehicle's 5,005-pound curb weight, this SUV can easily return an average of 25 miles per gallon.
  • The performance figures for this Cayenne S Diesel are well beyond the thrills experienced in the already good V6 diesel. Punching the throttle is simply vicious in the midrange.
  • Recommended braked towing weight remains 7,700 pounds. It feels like the Cayenne S Diesel would prefer five passengers and about 12,000 pounds to tow. Uphill.
  • European deliveries of this exceptional tank begin before the end of the year. Russia is foreseen as a huge market. What a surprise.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2013 Porsche Cayenne S Diesel

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Holy frack! 5005 lbs. and 25 MPG AVERAGE?! Dang I have yet to see something like that in an American SUV of similar size with a weight above 3000 or 4000-ish lbs. No wonder I wish there were more diesel engine vehicles in the US.
      Neutral President
      • 2 Years Ago
      Definitely sounded like a diesel on the return trip. Also... WANT!
      • 2 Years Ago
      And in 5 years it will be forgotten and worth 1/10 as much as it was new.
        • 2 Years Ago
        This is far from the same Cayenne as the one introduced in 2002, but hey, if their value drops like a rock that's fine by me! Means I can get one for myself even sooner.
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yet another diesel monster. Wonder when they will plonk the 12 cylinder diesel monstrosity that powered the Touareg and Q7 in Europe.
      Valverde and Boesch
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds like my old Jeep Grand Cherokee V8
      Basil Exposition
      • 2 Years Ago
      I apologize for the off-topic comment, but there is no area for general non-post-related comments, so I have to put it here. Where is the post on the passage of Right-To-Work in Michigan??? This is huge news with massive ramifications for the auto industry and I don't see a post about it. How is this possible?
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        Probably because it's not directly tied to the auto industry, and they don't want to address politically sensitive stories unless it's absolutely and completely on-point. Oh, and apologizing doesn't make it any less acceptable to run completely off topic in an attempt to get a political argument going. There are a million forums for that, or just the CNN comments section. You don't need to drag it onto Autoblog.
          Matthew Davis
          • 2 Years Ago
          Yep, that political stuff on the site traditionally goes over like the proverbial lead balloon.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not sure, but I think the q7 V12 is slower than this. And would probably ruin the car, as in weighs a lot. The Touareg's biggest diesel was the 5.0 V10, the petrol one had the 6.0 W12.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yes you are right on both counts. The Q7 is a heavier car by design as well. The Cayenne has gone on a diet for the latest iteration. So even with the V12 Tdi, the Cayenne might be much lighter than the Q7.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like the video I like Porsche but cayenne to me looks Hyundai Santa Fe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dan's Holy Wrath of God Review (the kids at ABG will understand...): :( not lightweight :( diesel :( not aero enough :( not cheap :) fast Four of Five Angry Dans Gabriel's trumpet is blowing, and 4 odd dudes on we're saddling up their horses.
      • 2 Years Ago
      This engine needs to go in the Panamera yesterday. With the Sport Turismo concept's styling. And then Porsche will have made my dream car. And it sounds like a diesel to me. Oddly like a Detroit 2 stroke diesel, but a diesel none the less.
      • 2 Years Ago
      When is a Porsche not a Porsche.
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