2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Review and Photos by Jeff Wilson

Suppose you’re the sort who chooses a golf shirt boldly emblazoned with a Hugo Boss word mark or a handbag with the iconic Louis Vuitton LV logo pattern covering most of the surface area.

You’ve likely spent a fair amount of money for a product that doesn’t fulfill its destiny in any superior manner than another shirt or bag without those heady brands attached. Some might even suggest the lesser-branded ones are less ostentatious and offensive, yet are still made by the same people in the same far-away factories and of largely the same materials.

So why spend so much more?

Fashion and how it makes its owner feel good about him or herself, that’s why.

The same must be true for someone who spends more than $75,000 on a Porsche Cayenne Diesel.

The Cayenne is a very good crossover sport utility vehicle. It’s a wholly capable machine on road and off. It’s safe, well–built and reasonably comfortable for five people. Best of all, the Cayenne wears the intricate and highly coveted gold crest of the storied luxury sports car maker from Zuffenhausen.

And like those fancy-brand golf shirts, the Cayenne fits a driver well with a size that’s just big enough to fulfill its mission as a practical family vehicle for the well heeled, but compact enough to enable the valet at Holt Renfrew to park it easily.

Porsche has suffered (or more likely ignored) the griping of so-called purists who have complained for more than a decade now about the legendary sports car maker selling its soul to jump on the SUV gravy train. The buying public has spoken however, and the Cayenne has proven to be an undeniable sales success and the enabler of the marque to continue building the magnificent sports cars enthusiasts adore.

2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel gauges2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel centre stack2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel drive mode selector
2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel gauges, centre stack, drive mode selector. Click image to enlarge

Plus, the Cayenne is truly the Porsche of SUVs, with driving characteristics more comparable to a smaller and less spacious sport sedan than a crossover.  Having a series of monstrously powerful V8 engine offerings doesn’t hurt either – especially when they bellow a roar that would make a lion tremble.

While lacking the big-cat-scaring soundtrack, this diesel version still possesses most of the hotshot Cayennes’ driving pluses.

With a suspension tune that is stiffer than all but its most sporting competitors, the Cayenne will not submissively roll over for a belly rub every time the driver carries a bit of extra speed into an onramp curve. Unsurprisingly for a Porsche, the Cayenne is solid and planted without feeling overly heavy.

2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel. Click image to enlarge

This isn’t to suggest the Cayenne will abuse its passengers over potholed Canadian roads. There is still ample suspension travel and damping to keep the Porsche (and its occupants) from becoming too perturbed with anything other than the worst craters. It’s a rather good thing too since the seats are surprisingly firm and while surely chiropractor-approved for their support, are not quite as luxuriously coddling as one would find in a BMW X5 or Lexus RX.

The precise nature of the Cayenne’s steering feel could be used as a lesson for most modern “sport” sedan manufacturers on how to provide a more engaging driving experience. The 13.8-inch front and 13-inch rear brakes are plenty powerful too, but require a considerable push to get them really grabbing.

The engine – a 3.0L V6 common rail fuel injected diesel – puts out a modest 240 horsepower, but robust 406 lb-ft of torque. These figures are enough to earn the Cayenne a 7,716 lb towing capacity – a figure presented in Porsche promotion for the first time since the early days of tractor production, I’m sure. As if to emphasize this point (and because let’s face it, it looks really cool), Porsche Canada sets up its mobile command centre at events in a gleaming silver Airstream trailer towed to the event by none other than a Cayenne diesel.

Upon twisting the car-shaped key (in the ignition, left of the steering wheel, naturally), the diesel comes to life with a gruff idle. If you’ve still not yet experienced a modern diesel engine, having written them off as noisy, smelly and rough, you could not be more wrong; this great mill is none of those things. That said, compared to the company’s V8s or even the V6 diesel found in the Mercedes-Benz ML, the Porsche’s power plant is coarser.

Mated to the standard eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission, the Cayenne diesel pulls away from stoplights smartly. Surely this would not be the SUV of choice if you’re planning to moonlight at the drag strip betting pink slips (that’s what the Cayenne Turbo S is for) but having a transmission with so many cogs ensures the abundance of torque is always flowing to the wheels.

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