Motors: Porsche Cayenne corners the ‘wow’ category

AT FACE value this is another Cayenne, the genuine all-roading estate (aka an SUV) which transformed Porsche’s fortunes and now supplements those of its new owners, Volkswagen.
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo SThe Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Fire this one up and you hear what may be the most exciting diesel production engine. Its rival comes from Land Rover.

This Cayenne S has a 4.2 litre turbocharged diesel engine, developing masses of power and a noise that should thrill even die-hard petrolistes. The twin turbo mill peaks at 376.7bhp and 626.5 lb foot of torque. This power pack delivers 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and 157mph maximum. The gearbox is an eight speed automatic.

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Economy looks good on paper, rated at 34 miles a gallon and 218g/km of CO2. It is the only V8 diesel SUV to have stop/start ignition. This makes life calmer in town, cleaner and more economical. In theory the 22 gallon (100 litre) fuel tank could give a range of some 750 to 800 miles. The test car arrived showing an average of 26 miles a gallon after 50 hours of driving – which suggests a tank range of 570 miles in everyday driving.

It costs from £58,243. Standard equipment includes Porsche traction management all-wheel drive (see below), leather interior, dual-zone automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, audio with seven-inch touch-screen, eight-way powered front seat adjustment, front and rear electric windows, 18-inch alloy wheels, a hill-holder system and what they call an interior lighting package.

My test car had dark blue metallic paint (£696), 20 inch alloys (£1,700), a bespoke leather interior (£2,582), navigation and a juke box audio (£2,157), a digital TV (£1,368) bi-xenon cornering lights (£1,165) and various cosmetic extras which lifted the price to a little over £73,000. There was also “active” suspension at £1,052. The ride comfort (via Michelin Latitude 275/45 tyres) was excellent and the cornering was in the “wow” category.

Porsche traction management active all-wheel drive plays a large role. I quote: “This system delivers the dynamic qualities of a rear-wheel drive car, together with its inherent benefits in terms of handling and precision. Torque is directed to the front wheels precisely according to the driving situation to improve stability and traction.”

Another whooah is caused by the acceleration – though a moderate throttle gives little clue what’s there when the pedal is hard down. The roar from the engine is a reminder of how you spent your money. At the back, note the spoiler that trails from the roof, helping to keep the 2.2 tonnes planted at high speed. The tailgate opens high – rather a reach to close if you are below average height. Under the floor there is a gap where a spare wheel could be carried. Instead, you are supplied with a seal & inflate kit which may not be up to the job of fixing a bad puncture.

Pop the bonnet, as they say, and the black cover that smothers the entire engine is badged 4.2 V8. The engine starts life with Audi but Porsche redesigned the pistons and valves, boosted turbo pressure and added the intercooler from the Cayenne Turbo to give an extra 50 horse power and class leading torque.

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The dashboard and central stack is a muddle of switches but within a day or two I had them memorised. The face of the dash is dominated by four 7-inch deep ventilation outlets with a double set of vanes on top. Passengers were very much smitten by it – though the price brought some gasps. The 242bhp 3-litre V6 diesel with a lower kit count is £47,390 and more economical. At the top end of the Cayenne price list is the new petrol turbo 4.8 V8 at more than £107,000.

VERDICT: Lusty, lovely.