The Aisin's two extra ratios explain much of the second-generation Cayenne's improved fuel efficiency. In the standard European consumption test, the V-6 version uses around 20-percent less gas than before. A similar improvement is expected by Porsche engineers when EPA certification is completed. Other fuel-saving strategies include an Auto Start Stop system, and a package of friction reduction and thermal management mods for the direct fuel-injection engine. In short, most of the tech expected in a recently developed engine. Like, for example, the Panamera's V-6.

So why wasn't the superior V-6 used in the second-generation Cayenne? After all, Porsche's engineers admit that it would easily fit. The answer lies in the long-ago negotiations with Volkswagen before the development of the first-generation Cayenne. The program was to deliver Porsche's first SUV, plus the Touareg for VW, and the Q7 for Audi. Porsche wanted a V-6, and the VW Group was prepared to supply one. But to get the deal done, Porsche had to commit to using the bought-in engine for two complete model cycles.

Meanwhile, along came the Panamera. Realizing the tall VW narrow-angle engine wouldn't package beneath the low hood of the big, four-seat GT, Porsche engineered the solution: an engine that could be manufactured on the same lines of machine tools at its Zuffenhausen engine plant, and a cleverly compact all-wheel-drive system.

With this powertrain the second-generation Cayenne V-6, with all its other improvements, could have been a wonderfully polished SUV. As the situation stands, customers who want a Cayenne but can't afford the V-8 (or Hybrid) price tag have two choices. Wait six or seven years for the next all-new model. Or pressure Porsche Cars North America to import the turbo-diesel V-6 version on sale in Europe. With this modern VW Group engine the new Cayenne can match the gasoline V-6's performance while burning much less fuel ... and does it all with properly Porsche-like polish.

2011 Porsche Cayenne
Base Price $46,700
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-seat, 5-door SUV
Engine 3.6L/295-hp 295-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve narrow-angle V-6
Transmission 8-speed auto
Curb weight (dist f/r) 4398 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 114.0 in
Length x width x height 190.8 x 76.3 x 67.4 in
0-60 mph 7.4 sec (mfr est)
EPA city/hwy econ Not yet rated
On sale in U.S. Fall 2010