The new 2015 Porsche Cayenne S Diesel is as mighty as ever – and good value with it.
Sean Carson | January 2015
The Porsche Cayenne is the German sports car firm’s best-selling model across the globe. The same goes for the UK, which is why last year the company chose to treat the Cayenne to an update.
Porsche’s big SUV has been on the road since 2002 (this is the second generation model), and over that time it’s turned from an ugly duckling into, well, a less ugly duckling. But with the new 2015 Porsche Cayenne things are better still.
The car’s facelift might be subtle, but Porsche assures us that every panel apart from the roof and doors is new, and that under the skin the chassis has been revised for increased comfort and better body and wheel control.
What fundamentally hasn’t changed, however, is the engine in the Cayenne S Diesel model. Thankfully.
What’s the Porsche Cayenne S Diesel like to drive?
It’s a 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel pushing out 385hp (that’s 35hp more than a 911) which means this whopping 2,215kg off-roader can leap off the line and on to 62mph in 5.3 seconds with the optional Sports Chrono package fitted.
It’s not the power that strikes you when you first squeeze the accelerator though. Maximum torque of 627lb ft is available from just 2,000rpm. As the boost builds the Cayenne S Diesel scorches down the road to a gruff growl – it’s a pleasant sound fitting of the performance.
In either auto or manual mode, the PDK gearbox is sublime, switching between its eight gears with no fuss and near instant response. It’ll shift up when cruising to maximise fuel economy, hold a gear in Sport mode for when you want to dissect a B-road and down change promptly for a burst of acceleration.
The slick powertrain is matched by an agile chassis. Given the Cayenne S Diesel’s size and weight it changes direction quickly and feels nimble for a big SUV, but the driving experience is more about comfort.
Porsche claim new bearings and revised suspension geometry mean greater control, but importantly an improved ride. With the adjustable Porsche Active Suspension Management dampers set to Comfort, the car is floaty and soft, and wafted around the Buckinghamshire countryside, easily soaking up smooth undulations and some harsh winter potholes.
Sport mode firms things up, with Sport Plus going one step further to the point where big bumps send quivers through the chassis – these two modes need only be reserved for very smooth European roads.
Comfort is the best option for British Tarmac, and combined with improved precision from the steering and that great powertrain it means you can briskly and serenely cover ground. It’s genuinely impressive off-road, too.
Is the Porsche Cayenne S Diesel better than a Range Rover Sport?
The Cayenne S Diesel’s biggest rival is the Range Rover Sport 4.4 SDV8 – and it’s engine trumps the Land Rover’s 339hp output. The gearbox is snappier in manual mode and just as smooth and syrupy on the changes when left to do its own thing.
Both cars are luxurious, fast SUVs, and the Porsche is on a par with the Range Rover Sport when it comes to ride comfort and equipment. However, the Rangie claws back ground when it comes to interior design.
The Cayenne’s cabin isn’t quite as slick. Fewer buttons in the Sport mean it’s easier to find most functions, as opposed to Porsche’s festooned centre console. If you need to find a button quickly, your prodding finger could be wandering around the centre console for a while.
Despite the Cayenne’s performance hold over the Range Rover Sport, it’s actually more efficient, too. Porsche claims 35.3mpg combined with 209g/km, whereas the diesel V8 Rangie can only manage 32.5mpg with 229g/km CO2. That last number is important, because it puts the British off-roader into the tax band above, meaning 12 months’ Vehicle Excise Duty is £485 – £200 more than the Porsche.
Big, luxurious SUVs still have to be practical, and while both cars offer plenty of room, with spacious yet cossetting cabins (a very clever trick to pull off), the Porsche trumps the Range Rover once more: 670 litres of boot space plays 489 with the seats up, 1,780 litres vs the Range Sport’s 1,761 with the rear seats folded.
Then there’s price. At £61,474 it’s true that the Cayenne S Diesel is a significant wedge. But it’s a quality product that represents strong value for money – this is not a twin test, nor a Range Rover Sport deconstruction, but at £82,650 for the British 4×4 in Autobiography Dynamic trim, the Cayenne seems cheap.
Especially given that effortless powertrain with huge levels of performance in reserve. Do you need this much? Probably not. The regular diesel is enough day-to-day, but once you’ve sampled the S, you’ll want it.
Verdict: 2015 Porsche Cayenne S Diesel
A few issues surrounding tremors through the structure of the car in the firmer suspension settings aside, the Cayenne S Diesel is a mighty car. And now with its new bumper, bonnet and boot designs it’s more graceful than before.
That trait is matched by the chassis, which blends performance with long distance cruising ability and plenty of ride comfort. This might very well be the pick of the new Porsche Cayenne range.
Specification: 2014 Porsche Cayenne
Engine: 4.2-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel
Gearbox: eight-speed PDK automatic with paddleshifters
Price from: £61,474
Torque: 627lb ft
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Top speed: 157mph
MPG: 35.3 combined