Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive

2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Front Angle View Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive
Long with the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, makes the Porsche Cayenne Diesel one of the most enjoyable to drive SUVs on the market.The exterior far sharper and more sporting than before and the inside benefitting from massively improved materials and the cockpit feel of the Panamera.

Despite larger exterior dimensions (to the benefit of passenger space inside), the Cayenne looks smaller on the road. That’s a clever trick, and makes the Cayenne a far better rival for its German premium SUV competition. Fitted with the optional PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) and larger 19-inch wheels, the Cayenne Diesel rides decently enough.

2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI rips it up in worthy style. This is far more than some nasty farm implement dressed up with a Porsche crest.

Porsche is serious about this diesel deal, so don’t start with the bellyaching. The Cayenne diesel works like a Porsche should, featuring the same basic engine in the same basic vehicle architecture as used in the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg. Remember, if Porsche had restricted itself to the 911 sports car, the company never would have built up the cash reserves to absorb the whole VW Group these days. And without the Cayenne, the upcoming Panamera program would have been running on fumes and Porsche itself would be little more than a fancy engineering division at the VW Group.

Besides, if you drive the 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI as if you were pedaling a Toyota Prius on a hypermiling dare, its 26.4-gallon fuel tank could get you from El Paso to San Diego on one fill-up, hombre. That in itself is pretty cool in a Porsche way, except that there aren’t any immediate plans to bring this SUV to North America at the moment.

Porsche Has Diesel Blood
The Porsche name actually first adorned a diesel long ago, when the production of a long succession of farm tractors (often called “Schlepper” in German) started in 1934. The final Porsche tractor model was called the Master AP144 and it accelerated to a top speed of 22 mph thanks to a 50-horsepower, air-cooled 3.3-liter four-cylinder engine. It had a redline of just 2,000 rpm. Now you know.

The 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI is the first Porsche diesel since production of the tractors ended completely in 1964. It’s a reminder that Porsche isn’t necessarily about horsepower but instead engineering solutions for the right applications and usually at the right time.

So if you get there while being pulled along by a team of horses or just a few really big ones, it should be all the same.

A Tractor This Ain’t
Unlike a tractor, this Cayenne diesel seats five people in quiet comfort. The turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine comes to Porsche from the VW-Audi Group, incorporating a cast-iron crankcase, aluminum cylinder heads, a balance shaft to control vibration from the tall compression ratio, a variable-geometry turbocharger and twin intercoolers.

Lord knows what sort of CO2 emissions rating the old Porsche tractors inflicted on Mother Earth, but the V6 TDI engine has the very latest piezo units for the common-rail direct injection, clever exhaust gas recirculation and a standard diesel particulate filter, so it emits 21 percent less CO2 than the Cayenne’s 3.6-liter gasoline V6 and improves mpg by 39 percent. The Cayenne diesel jumps to 100 km/h (62 mph) from a standstill in just 8.3 seconds, only 0.2 second slower than the gas V6, and this is mainly due to the diesel’s added 154 pounds at the curb (4,939 pounds in total).

Truly a Porsche Engine?
We asked Klaus-Gerhard Wolpert, Porsche’s man in charge of SUVs, why exactly didn’t Porsche at least goose the output of this engine above its rating of 236 hp and 405 pound-feet of torque just to set it apart from the same engine in the Audi Q7 and VW Toureg. After all, it’s a Porsche.

“You know,” Wolpert said, grinning, “that’s the sort of question my boss [CEO Wendelin Wiedeking] sometimes asks me as well. The challenge is that to add that little burst of power or torque would have first threatened our CO2 rating of 244 grams per kilometer, taking us over the magic 250 level.” (Below 250 grams apparently results in a marked tax and insurance advantage in several countries.)

“Then there’s the sheer cost of the investment to make such changes to existing powertrains,” he adds. “That would have seriously damaged the business case.”

Besides these practical matters, we also got a few Porsche leaders to admit that there could have been certain political risks should Porsche assert its growing powers within the VW Group by demanding the same powertrain as in the VW and Audi but with more of everything.

That said, this Cayenne feels like a Porsche diesel and not like the VW or Audi equivalent. There is a substance and a comportment here that sets this Porsche V6 apart.

So Many Torques
Farmers and horse owners and truckers already get this, but someday it will be possible to say the word “torque” and not hear crickets chirp in a crowded room of everyday people. Regarding the vast majority of passenger vehicles, torque is the king in how you accelerate, haul, or even lay waste to competitors.

The 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel provides 405 lb-ft of torque in a vital flurry between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm. After that there’s a solid give-and-take between the climbing horsepower and tapering torque until the horses take over at 236 hp between 4,000 and 4,400 rpm. (Compare this to the base Cayenne V6 with 290 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.) The greatest strength of the Cayenne diesel is this authoritative thrust from a stop, matched with phenomenally efficient highway cruising.

Thus the aforementioned 8.3-second launch to 62 mph, the calming 2,300 rpm we experienced on the super slab in the very, very tall (0.69:1) overdrive 6th gear at 80 mph, and surprising ability to tow (the Cayenne is rated at a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds).

Power in Transmission
For all we’ve whined on and on about the five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission in past Porsche sports cars, we’ve always lived just fine with this six-speed Tiptronic S in the Cayenne format. We’ll never love the thumb-shift toggles on the steering wheel, but the Tiptronic S six is the right technology on this big boy.

There’s no need for crackling crispness at this weight density and with diesel’s terrific wash of energy as momentum builds. The rhythms of the Tiptronic S programming fit well with the sporting characteristics of this diesel.

Then we plinked on the Sport mode that comes as part of the package when one opts for the Porsche Active Suspension Management with air suspension. Thus set up, the Cayenne diesel verily bolts from stops as well as when coming out of curves in 2nd or 3rd gear in manual mode.

There’s some cleverness going on as well, as the alternator and air-conditioning compressor disengage briefly during full-throttle acceleration to give you more power, while a twin-disc lockup clutch engages during cruising to enhance fuel economy.

Cleverly Quiet
Diesel engines make a little more sound than their gas-propelled brethren thanks to the tall compression ratio that makes the diesel fuel ignite without a spark plug. The acoustic penalty over a gas engine is getting less and less each year, though, and the sound profile of the Cayenne diesel is nearly the same as a conventional Cayenne S under acceleration.

Sitting inside the 2010 Porsche Cayenne diesel, it can sometimes be hard to tell that the engine is running when it’s idling at 750 rpm. Porsche has also included more of a new-generation lightweight acoustic insulation that VW has recently used to tremendous effect in the new Golf VI. As a result, it’s really quiet in here, which in turn helps communicate that premium quality we all expect in a Porsche.

Laminated acoustic glass has also been used for the windshield and this new-age five-layer glass is remarkable stuff in the way it absorbs a huge amount of sound without adding any weight to the glass itself. The effect in the Cayenne diesel renders it arguably quieter than any other Cayenne in the lineup. You simply feel bass tones coming into the cabin versus the treble feel you get in cars with gas engines and traditional windshield glass.

North America Can’t Have It
Porsche’s goals for sales of the Cayenne diesel are humble. In the first full year, it’s hoping to sell up to 8,000 examples. We personally feel that the Porsche people are deliberately lowballing their estimates so they can later announce “vastly better sales than expected.”

European deliveries start in mid-February. The straight dollar conversion from the base German price in euros is $60,800, though if on sale here would be more like $54,000 according to a Porsche spokesperson, which is about as much as we could get anyone to talk about possible U.S. plans for the 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel.

This is where we are with the diesel era. Not only can a diesel be powerful, fuel-efficient and even quiet, but it can even be a Porsche. The world is changing.
2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Front Side View Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Interior View Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Rear Side View Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Seats View Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel Side View Review : 2010 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI First Drive

1 comment

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