Porsche offers up a diesel Cayenne
If the idea of a Porsche SUV ticked you off, this diesel version debuting at the New York Auto Show may ruin your day.
Beyond the "diesel" badging on the back, there aren't any cosmetic exterior changes to this version of the Cayenne, although Porsche says that for 2013 all Cayennes get some very subtle interior modifications. Forget the new analog clock; let's dive right into the diesel specifics.
Same V-6, More Power
The Cayenne borrows its 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission from the diesel versions of the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg. For the Porsche, though, power is upped from 225 hp to 240 — torque is the same in all three vehicles at an ample 406 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard. We quite liked this powertrain as installed in our long-term Audi Q7 TDI, so with the added power, lower weight, and Porsche-tuned chassis, this Cayenne should be even more pleasant. Porsche pegs the diesel Cayenne's 0-to-60-mph time at 7.2 seconds, a number we expect to improve on somewhat; when we last tested the slightly heavier Touareg TDI, the sprint took just 6.9 seconds. The diesel's towing capacity is listed as 7716 pounds, the same as the gas-fueled Cayenne V-6 and Cayenne S.
Unlike other Cayenne variants that are equipped with an eight-speed gearbox, the diesel won't have an optional engine stop-start system. EPA fuel-economy ratings aren't available yet for the Cayenne, but Porsche estimates it will score 20 mpg city and 28 highway. If accurate, these numbers would put the diesel Cayenne just barely at the top of its class of luxury-badged diesel SUVs. The Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec is rated at 20/27, and the BMW X5 xDrive35d is rated at 19/26.
Pricing and the "Uh-Oh" Moment
Pricing for the diesel Cayenne starts at $56,725. That puts it far below the $70,000-ish Cayenne S hybrid, but above the basic 300-hp, 295-lb-ft gasoline Cayenne V-6, which starts at $52,175 with the optional automatic transmission. A price gap of more than $4000 versus the conventional gasoline Cayenne will take a long time to overcome in fuel savings. A full list of features for the diesel Cayenne hasn't been released yet, but we expect that most — if not all — of the price premium is due to the expensive urea-injection system that cleans the exhaust enough to meet U.S. emissions standards. Meanwhile, truly eco-chic shoppers may prefer the image of the Cayenne S hybrid.
In spite of this biting rationality, the diesel Cayenne is good news both for diesel fans and Europhiles. The more diesels that are sold here, the better the business case is for future diesel offerings from all automakers. Bring 'em on.
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In spite of this biting rationality, the diesel Cayenne is good news both for diesel fans and Europhiles.No manual transmission, on a diesel? Forget it, not interested then.
I like the comment suggesting that the more diesel models sold in the US, the better the business case for more European style diesel models. Diesels are now clean, quiet, and powerful, plus they are overall hardier with better torque, longer lasting and more fuel efficient than gasoline engines. I look forward to the day when, like Europe, more than half of the models sold in the US will burn diesel, or why not even a diesel-electric hyrbid? Fingers crossed!
The Diesel Cayenne is way underpowered. A 5000lb SUV is not going to have much towing capacity unless its engine is at least 300hp. The use of clever computer controls and advanced transmission will keep this Porsche from feeling like a giant slug. But it's neither sporty like the gasoline-engined Cayenne, nor as fuel-efficient as the expensive hybrid, it a mediocre blend, and that is the worst of both worlds.