Porsche Cayenne Diesel S

Extra muscle for an already powerful physical presence

When is a Porsche not a Porsche? When it is built on a Volkswagen platform and powered by an Audi engine, perhaps? But I’m not sure it actually matters when that alleged Porsche is a 2.2-tonne SUV.

Were it a low, lightweight coupé or roadster, its Porsche badge would confer a certain set of expectations. But in terms of what you expect from a car like this Cayenne Diesel S, the badge is almost an irrelevance. It might be a Porsche in name only, but that doesn’t stop it being the best example of its breed we have so far seen.

Here’s why. Until now those inclined to park a Porsche Cayenne outside their mock-Tudor mansions have been facedwith a stark choice: you either spend a vast amount of money on a very fast Cayenne and, while you might not be bothered by its appalling fuel consumption, the need to refuel every couple of hours will be irksome in the extreme. Alternatively, you could buy a diesel-powered Cayenne and eke almost 40 miles out of every gallon and just put up with the fact that, every so often, some bright-eyed young loon in a Ford Fiesta is going to come flying past and there won’t be a damn thing you can do.

No longer. The Diesel S resolves these issues in a trice, courtesy of nothing less than the most powerful diesel engine on sale, a 382bhp, 4.2-litre V8 provided not by Stuttgart, but Audi up the road in Ingolstadt. Now you can drive aCayenne that’ll still do almost 35mpg, blow away any junior hot hatch that has the temerity to sniff your exhausts and also accelerate more briskly than a brand-new Boxster.

If this reads like a winning formula for Porsche’s biggest beast, it is. For the first time in more than a decade of production you might say the Cayenne at last has the engine it’s needed from the start.

However impressive its power output might sound, the engine’s torque is positively startling – boasting more than any other Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini or Rolls on sale. Twitch a toe and it doesn’t need to wonder whether to change down or not, it’s just gone, with a thoroughly satisfying yet suitably muted roar from beneath the bonnet.

True, it doesn’t handle like a Porsche, but which Cayenne ever did? What matters is that for a 2.2-tonne SUV, it’s perfectly composed on difficult roads but provides a notably comfortable ride. I’ve always had my admiration for the Cayenne under fairly close control – indeed I’m on the record as saying I wished it had never been built. But it has and it’s here to stay. And now at least there’s one that’s a properly rounded, entirely convincing example of its art, whether you consider it a Porsche or not.

Engine 4.2 litres, V8
Power 382bhp @3750rpm
Torque 627lb ft @2000-2750rpm
Transmission eight-speed Tiptronic S semi-auto, four-wheel drive 0-62mph 5.7sec
Top Speed 155mph
Economy 34mpg CO2 218g/km

Andrew Frankel