2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Introduction
Eternally stretching the boundaries of what constitutes a “real” Porsche, for the 2013 model year, the wizards of Stuttgart have introduced the first diesel powered Porsche automobile to North America—the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel. (And yes, we are aware Porsche did a diesel tractor back in the 1950s.)
Interestingly though, this time, the outcry over an automobile so non-traditionally Porsche was rather muted. This, of course, was in stark contrast to the response to the original Cayenne ‘s introduction back in 2002. Back then, the thought of a Porsche automobile being anything other than an out-and-out sports car was next to heresy for die-hard fans of the brand. However, when the Cayenne arrived and demonstrated itself to be an outstanding offering in every conceivable sense, the skeptics were silenced in pretty short order.
Further, being as luxurious as it was in addition to all its other attributes, the Cayenne soon found itself parked out front at country clubs all across the United States. What’s more, the success of the model paved the way for the first Porsche four-door sedan—the Panamera. These days, when Porsche does something outside of the generally accepted “norm” for the brand, it’s met with considerably less skepticism.
Which brings us to the subject of this review, the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
Porsche offers the Cayenne is six different models, each of which is based upon the nature of the engine installed in the automobile. The lineup includes Cayenne, Cayenne S, Cayenne Diesel, Cayenne S Hybrid, Cayenne GTS, and Cayenne Turbo. For the 2014 model year, yet another variant is being added—Cayenne Turbo S.
Standard equipment for the $57,575 (including destination charges) Cayenne Diesel model includes:
• A set of 18-inch alloy wheels
• Automatic headlights
• LED daytime running lights
• LED taillights
• Front and rear foglamps
• Rear privacy glass
• A power liftgate with programmable opening height and a separately opening rear window
• Automatic windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles
• Heated exterior rearview mirrors
• Remote central locking and an antitheft system with passenger compartment monitoring
• Cruise control
• Dual-zone automatic climate control system with charcoal filtering and pollen filtering
• Five 12-volt power outlets
• Eight-way power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment and driver memory functions,
• A leather trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel,
• Leather upholstery
• Driver and passenger illuminated vanity mirrors
• Floor mats
• A 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, which slides and reclines
• Extendable cargo cover and four chrome-plated cargo tie down eyelets
• Bluetooth handsfree phone connectivity and audio streaming
• A 10-speaker sound system with a touchscreen display, CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface
As is Porsche tradition, the Cayenne Diesel’s options list is exceptionally lengthy (and very pricey too). For a full list of the options available for the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel a visit to Porsche.com/usa is highly recommended.
However, there are some key options packages worth noting here.
The $2160 Bose Audio Package includes:
• Bose Surround Sound audio system
• Six-disc CD changer
• SiriusXM Satellite Radio Receiver
The $5,640 Convenience Package includes:
• Porsche Communication Management (PCM) with navigation
• Bi-Xenon headlights with the Porsche Dynamic Lighting System
• Driver Memory Package
• Heated front seats
• Auto Dimming Mirrors
The $7,710 Premium Package includes all the components of the Convenience Package, along with:
• Porsche Servotronic speed sensitive steering system
• 14-way power adjustable front seats with memory
• Front and rear ParkAssist sensors
• Heated steering wheel
The $10,180 Premium Package Plus includes all of the features of the Premium Package and the Convenience package, plus:
• Lane Change Assist
• Rearview Camera
• Electrically retractable rear sunscreen
• Interior comfort lighting package
• Heated and ventilated front seats
• Heated rear seats
From there, you can choose the type of leather you’d like, the type of stitching you’d like, the nature of the wood, aluminum, or carbon fiber trim you’d like, Alcantara upholstery and accents, as well as from among a variety of audio and communications systems. You can also upholster even the blades of the HVAC vents in leather.
And, it only gets crazier from there.
In other words, it is very possible to configure a $150,000+ Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Design
Never really known for doing “beautiful cars, the shape of a Porsche is typically dictated by the practicalities imposed by aerodynamics and its overall mission in life—including the mechanical hardware it is designed to contain. With that said, there is no mistaking the Cayenne for anything other than a Porsche product, even though development of the vehicle was shared with Volkswagen for the Touareg and Audi for the Q7.
In other words, if you park all contemporary Porsche models side-by-side you will definitely see a familial resemblance. The sloped nose, the oval headlights, the voluptuous curvature of the front fenders, all of those traits can be traced directly back to the most iconic Porsche model of all—the venerable 911. Speaking of the front fenders, tastefully understated diesel badges adorn the Cayenne’s to announce the alternative fuel the model uses.
Of course, the Cayenne is a Sport Utility Vehicle, so it has the tall profile required of the genre, along with the elevated ride height required to clear obstacles when the Porsche is driven off road. Large windows ensure outward visibility with minimal impedance. The rear hatch is fitted with an opening rear window, and a discreet tail spoiler resides just above it. The center high-mounted stop-light is integrated into the spoiler.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
SUV though it may be, the Cayenne was designed with an eye toward running on the Autobahn in mind too. This means its ergonomics are highly intuitive, and its secondary controls quite logically placed. Seating is exceptionally comfortable and designed to help you stay in place when the Porsche is—well—being a Porsche.
Four of the five seating positions offer outstanding comfort, while the middle position in the second row is best employed occasionally. If you’ve got three kids, you’ll want to look at something with a third row of seats for longer trips. Which is something Porsche does not offer with the Cayenne.
Cargo capacity is a selling point, at 62.9 cubic feet with the rear seat folded and 23.7 cubic feet with the rear seat in place. Granted, some of the Cayenne’s competitors offer more, but this is still quite substantial. In addition to folding, that rear seat also slides and reclines to improve comfort.
The usual array of storage bins, center console storage, and glove box storage is well represented too. All in all, as the “family” Porsche, the Cayenne works just as well as it goes—which is to say, really, really well.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Seated in front of the immaculately trimmed Porsche steering wheel, the view forward immediately announces you’re in a performance-oriented automobile. The instrument panel is dominated by the large centrally positioned tachometer, just as it is in every other Porsche model. Grab handles on the doors and the center console are perfectly positioned to help driver and passenger maintain stability when the acrobatics this SUV is capable of performing are underway.
Speaking of the center console, the Cayenne uses a configuration similar to the one introduced with the Panamera for secondary controls. Grouped according to function, at first glance it’s a bit busy, but once you acclimate yourself to the layout, operation is second nature.
Just behind the shift lever you’ll find the controls for ride height, differential locks, the sport mode and etc. Again, the sheer logic employed in arraying the switchgear speaks to the mind of someone interested first and foremost in driving pleasure. The steadfast adherence to the placement of the ignition key to the left of the steering wheel is one of those touches reflecting the racing heritage of the company we find very endearing.
If you’re unfamiliar with why Porsche does it this way, it goes back to the days when road races started with the cars all parked in a row on one side of the track and the drivers standing on the other. When the signal was given to begin the race, drivers ran across the track, jumped into their cars, started them, and were off. Someone at Porsche realized if they placed the ignition key to the left of the steering wheel the driver would have an advantage.
Using their left hand to start the car and their right hand to put the transmission in first gear simultaneously, gave them an advantage over drivers who had to first start their cars with their right hand, and then put their car into first gear. By the time those drivers got their cars started and ready to go, the Porsche driver was already rolling onto the track.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
Developed by Volkswagen, the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 diesel engine produces 240 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs of torque. Yes, we know 240 horsepower mated to a 4,800-pound vehicle is usually a recipe for slow—but don’t overlook those 400+ ft-lbs of torque. Torque is what sets the vehicle into motion and the vast majority of the Porsche Cayenne Diesel’s torque is available at 1,750 RPM.
In other words, the moment you tip into the throttle, the Porsche just goes.
Naturally, the engineering team at Porsche made a few changes to extract more performance from the engine than Volkswagen does, just as the Cayenne itself is different from the Touareg and the Audi Q7, even though all three share the same basic architecture. This was done largely with the engine control unit’s software.
Porsche representatives say you can expect a 7.2-second 0-60, and a top speed of 135 miles per hour.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is the only power transfer option available. It drives all four wheels. The diesel is rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway.
Towing capacity is 7,716 pounds (when properly equipped).
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
The smoothness of the Cayenne’s diesel engine does very little to betray the fact this Porsche is an oil burner. The transmission does its part quite willingly as well. Seemingly always in the right gear, it never gets caught hunting for the proper ratio. And yes, that huge torque output helps tremendously in this regard.
With the torque peak available at a low 1,750 rpm, acceleration is good, though you do run out of revs pretty quickly and so consequently top speed is compromised. However, when it comes to pulling, the Cayenne is pretty tough to beat, whether we’re talking about trailers or away from a traffic signal. Press it and you’ll know you’re piloting a proper Porsche product.
Similarly, the lively feeling you get from the steering and the driver’s seat also say Porsche loudly and clearly. The responsiveness of the Cayenne is almost telepathic. It’s as if the SUV is in tune with your thoughts as much as it is responsive to your physical inputs. The brakes are exceptionally strong, and the chassis lets the two-ton Porsche change directions with the aplomb of a much lighter vehicle.
All in all, the Porsche Cayenne Diesel is a very satisfying automobile to drive.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Safety Equipment/Ratings
Key safety features include:
• Antilock brakes with enhanced brake assist and readiness
• Stability control
• Traction control
• Driver’s side knee airbag
• Front side airbags
• Full-length side curtain airbags
• Rear side airbags
• Proximity sensors
• Rearview camera
• Blind-spot warning system
Neither NHTSA nor the IIHS have published crash test data on Porsche Cayenne models.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
As SUVs go, for the driving enthusiast, this is definitely the one to have. Porsche’s penchant for infusing all varieties of its automobiles with engaging performance attributes was first demonstrated with the Cayenne. The addition of a diesel engine to the platform only gave it more versatility—along with superior fuel economy.
By the way, the Porsche diesel engine has been available to European customers since 2009, so it’s hardly new technology. For anyone looking to enjoy the driving dynamics of a Porsche, coupled with exceptional towing capacity and good fuel economy—the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel is strongly recommended.
Be aware though, by the time you get the Cayenne Diesel optioned up you’ll be into it for a sizable chunk of your liquidity.
2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Exceptional performance
• Outstanding interior treatment
• Really good fuel economy (for what it is)
• Ability to tailor it precisely to your specification
• Very pricey options sheet