Road Trip: 2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
Blues, catfish, wine and bombers
2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel
Price: $65,500 base, $74,300 as tested.
Engine: 3.0-L turbo-diesel V6.
Power/torque: 240 hp/406 lb.-ft.
Fuel consumption L/100 km: 10.8 city, 6.7 hwy.
Competition: Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel, Mercedes-Benz ML 350 BlueTec, Audi Q7 TDI, BMW X5 xDrive35d, VW Touareg TDI.
What’s Best: fuel economy, dynamics, driving position.
What’s Worst: options add up.
What’s Interesting: 20 per cent of the Cayennes sold in Canada are diesel.
Luxury diesel SUV makes easy, frugal work of journey to Delta Grand
I heaved my guitar and amp into the back of the ol’truck, fired up the diesel engine and pointed ‘er south in search of the blues.
Old Blue, my one-eyed mutt rode shotgun. With my left arm baking in the sun, and smoke from the filterless Camel stinging my eyes, Muddy Waters Crackled front the tired AM radio.
Oh, sorry. Got a bit carried away there.
Actually, the audio in the 2014 Porsche Cayenne Diesel (hardly an ?ol truck) is really quite good, and no, I wasn?t heading for the Mississippi Delta.
I was headed to the Grand River delta and an outdoor gig in Dunnville, Ont., where I was to back up two of Canada?s finest blues harp players.
I also don?t smoke, and the guitar in question is a bass guitar ? gosh, where?s the romance in that? Know any famous blues bass guitarists? Didn?t think so. We?re the diesels of the band ? steady, efficient and reliable. No flash.
So I can relate to this Porsche SUV ($65,500) that gets its life juice from the yellow hose. It may not be as glamorous as its sportier gas-powered siblings, but it sure gets the job done.
And it works for cheap. At the end of the 200-km road trip that took me from Oakville through Niagara wine country, over the escarpment to Dunnville and then home, the trip computer read an astonishing 7.5 L/100.
That is economy-car fuel consumption. If this SUV was a slug, that figure might make more sense, but the 240-hp VW/Audi-sourced 3.0-L turbo diesel V6 is a strong, smooth and largely silent partner. It effortlessly wafts the Cayenne down the road on a 406-lb.-ft wave of torque.
Select Sport mode, keep your foot in it and the 8-speed Tiptronic S auto puts the engine right in the fat of the power, hurtling you forward with a determined urgency.
Of course, keeping your foot in it is not how to conserve fuel, so I adopted an easy truckin? shuffle for this Saturday summer road trip. Think Joe Walsh and Rocky Mountain Way.
I ducked off the Niagara-bound QEW at Fifty Road and jumped on 81, which cuts through the heart of wine country.
There are close to 80 wineries in the region and, although every trip here invites a visit to an untried vintner, I stopped at one of my faves: Organized Crime. Not only does this boutique winery whip up a fine Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir, the label on the bottle fits well into the theme of this trip.
Organized Crime does not refer to Mafioso activities. Early in the past century, a rivalry between a couple of Mennonite congregations in the area came to a head when one group stole the organ out of the other?s church and chucked it down a ravine. Had the organist been playing the blues?
Jan Tarasewicz, the owner of Organized Crime, was very interested in the Cayenne, as he?s in the market for a Euro-diesel SUV.
I extolled the virtues of its direct steering, form-fitting seats and fine handling that do indeed carry more than a few strands of Porsche DNA.
He liked the intimate, cockpit feel of the driver?s environment, but thought the sunroof was pretty skimpy in size, and was quite surprised that, with an as-tested price of $74,300, there was no back-up camera. Or satellite radio. That?s another $860.
Well, the world of Porsche is a funny place. The base Cayenne Diesel comes with navigation, but to get a back-up camera, you have to buy the $10,990 Premium Plus Package, which also bestows heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, lane-change assist and a few other goodies that could be considered default gotta-haves in this segment.
Granted, you?ll likely get more stuff for less money with the other German marques (and certainly the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel), but that wasn?t really bothering me as I worked my way over the escarpment, thoroughly enjoying the Cayenne?s poise and pace.
Decently comfortable ride, too, surely helped by the 18-inch wheels with their relatively high-profile tires.
Cutting through the farmlands, a roar overhead alerted me to one of the incredible aspects of living in this region.
The silhouette and sound of a 1945 Lancaster bomber, based at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, is quite common here in the summer. One of only two operational Lancasters (the other is in Britain), the drone of those four Packard Merlin V12 engines never fails to give me chills.
If you come into Dunnville from the east on Highway 3, you?ll be greeted by Muddy, which, at 50 feet, is the world?s largest catfish statue. Lots of big catfish in the Grand River, apparently.
Just outside of town is another aviation museum: the No 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum. This was the site of a WWII pilot training centre ? only a few remain of the 28 built in Canada. It operated from 1940 to 1944, and standing guard is a yellow Harvard trainer.
After a fine dinner of perch at a local marina, I made my way to the Shared Harvest Community Farm ? host of a blues harp educational workshop and site of this evening?s concert.
I pulled the Cayenne Diesel up in front of a makeshift stage and hopped out. It was hot, humid, and the bugs were ravenous. An ancient willow with its massive canopy offered some respite.
Just over yonder was a weatherworn 19th-century log house, with a sprawling porch from which the plaintive strains of some fellas playing the harmonica convinced me that, yes, I had found the blues.
The vehicle tested by freelance writer Peter Bleakney was provided by the manufacturer.