The Porsche Cayenne family of vehicles is growing faster than casino jackpot, as the 2013 model year adds a sixth variant to the nameplate with the new Cayenne Diesel. Although it debuted in 2009 for the European market, the Cayenne Diesel is slated to hit American soil for the first time in September.
Why the delay in U.S. availability? According to Porsche, the original European spec emission system needed to undergo several extensive revisions to meet our stringent emission regulations. Like most clean diesel vehicles sold in America, the U.S. spec Cayenne Diesel employs selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, which converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water by injecting a urea-based liquid called AdBlue directly into the exhaust flow. The AdBlue tank resides beneath the spare tire well for easy access and requires a refill about every 10,000 miles.
The heart of the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel is a slightly modified version of the Volkswagen Group's 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 diesel engine, which pumps out a healthy 406 lb-ft of torque beginning at 1,750 rpm. This low-end grunt scoots the Cayenne Diesel from 0-60 in roughly 7.2 seconds with a top-speed of 135 mph. While we never reached the 135 mph mark during our test, we did come away thoroughly impressed with the Cayenne Diesel's remarkable passing power and linear power delivery. The 8-speed automatic transmission is both quick-witted and smooth, with precision-tuned software that seamlessly selects the appropriate gear for the current driving condition. The characteristic rough idle and raucous sounds of traditional diesel engines do not apply to the 2013 Cayenne Diesel, as cabin noise levels appeared to be on par with gasoline-powered Cayenne models.
The EPA rated the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel at a respectable 19 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Given its 26.4-gallon fuel capacity, the Cayenne Diesel is capable of driving up to 740 miles on one tank of fuel. While a 29 mpg rating might sound like an early Christmas present to most SUV buyers, the news gets even better. Throughout our evaluation we were able to achieve over 33 mpg on the highway - at least according to the on-board telemetry. The Cayenne Diesel also maintains the model line's impressive 7,716 pound towing capacity.
Apart from the unique powerplant and a pair of "diesel" badges affixed to the front fenders, the Cayenne Diesel looks virtually identical to the rest of the model range. Suspension componentry and chassis tuning remains unchanged as well, though considering the Cayenne's reputation as one of the most dynamic SUVs ever built, we can't fault Porsche for preserving the original formula.
With a starting price of just under $57,000, the 2013 Cayenne Diesel commands a near $10,000 premium over its corporate stablemate, the Volkswagen Touareg TDI, and undercuts the BMW X5 xDrive35d by a few hundred dollars. Porsche expects the new Diesel model to account for around ten percent of total Cayenne sales, with that number steadily increasing as Americans warm-up to the idea of diesel vehicles.