We drive Porsche's Cayenne S Diesel

Latest launches

By Jesse Adams in Graz, Austria

We have a new heavyweight champ. Porsche launched its Cayenne S Diesel last week, and now all other turbodiesel SUVs, no matter how badass they may be, must bow down to the new king.

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Some of the new options in the Cayenne are adaptive cruise control, an updated headlight system and speed limit recognition, which make this diesel monster a pleasure to drive.

Under the bonnet you’ll find the VW/Audi/Porsche group’s 4.2-litre V8 TDI, as used in the Touareg and Q7, but with output cranked up to 281kW and 850Nm, making it the most powerful diesel SUV on the market today. Obligatory performance stats include a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 252km/h, but it’s the blasé way it goes about business that’s most impressive.

Each engine revolution, even with miniscule throttle inputs, sends enough torque to the Cayenne’s four wheels to pull the Titanic back to shore, and it feels like it’ll do so without breaking a sweat.

It’s actually rated to tow a maximum of 3.5 tonnes.

But I’m sure that’s only because the towing ball will snap off long before the snarling biturbo V8 calls it quits. So, without a load you can imagine how effortlessly the big Porsche moves itself around.

Porsche has also done a fine job in tuning the exhaust to sound less tractor and more Nascar, and when the pedal’s given a boot there’s a lumpy petrol-like roar from the dual rectangular tailpipes.

From behind the wheel the whole experience is petrol-like too with a muscular growl filling the cabin, but relatively low shift points of around 4000rpm are a dead giveaway that it’s diesel power providing the thrust.


As in almost every other Cayenne model sold today, gearbox duty is performed by an eight-speed Tiptronic with an ultra-low first gear that replaces the previous model’s low-range transfer case. But this doesn’t mean it’s any less hardcore, because even with its 911-inspired front end and generally suave looks, this Cayenne is capable of dirty off-road deeds if need be.

Optional rear and centre differential locks, and an air suspension system that will raise the body high enough to clear a small poodle, will happily take you as far away from Sandton as you want to get.

New options in the Cayenne range include adaptive cruise control that will automatically keep a safe distance from the car ahead, a new headlight system that will adjust focus based on information received from the navigation system, speed limit recognition, and some new sound system features.

The Cayenne S Diesel will be launched here early next year at a starting price of R889 000.

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