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First drive: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche.

First drive: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
Is the new Cayenne PHEV good enough to consign the diesel model to history?

 



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Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

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Porsche's hybrid version of its new Cayenne beats the diesel variant of the big SUV to market, which is a clear sign of intent from the German car maker. While retaining everything that we already like about the Cayenne, the E-Hybrid is much faster and more efficient than its predecessor, meaning it'll appeal to more British buyers than ever before.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
Pricing: 67,128
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol plus electric motor
Transmission: four-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 72-78g/km*
Combined economy: 83.1-88.3mpg*
Top speed: 158mph
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Power: 462hp at 5,250-6,400rpm (system maximum)
Torque: 700Nm at 1,000-3,750rpm (system maximum)
* depending on wheel size

What's this?

The E-Hybrid is the first hybrid version of the third-generation Porsche Cayenne SUV to be launched (we expect others in time), using the same powertrain as the Panamera E-Hybrid, which is turning out to be rather successful. It also uses a boost strategy borrowed from the Porsche 918 Spyder, in that the battery pack is charged as quickly as possible when in Sport Plus mode so that maximum acceleration is always available.

That battery pack, incidentally, weighs the same as the battery in this car's predecessor, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid (138kg), but has 30 per cent more energy capacity, at 14.1kWh. It can be charged from an external source as before and takes as little as 2.33 hours to fully charge depending on the source and whether you've specified the optional 7.2kW on-board charger. Power from this battery feeds a new electric motor that produces 400Nm of torque between 100- and 2,400rpm and 136hp at 2,800rpm. Despite the 2,295kg unladen weight of the Cayenne E-Hybrid, electric power alone can propel it to about 84mph. Porsche quotes an electric-only maximum range of up to 27.5 miles.

The electric motor sits between an eight-speed automatic transmission (sending power to all four wheels via PTM - Porsche Traction Management) and the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, a turbocharged unit lifted directly from the entry-level Porsche Cayenne. For the record, it produces up to 340hp and 450Nm of torque. Working together, there's a considerable 462hp and 700Nm of torque on tap, enabling a 0-62mph time of just five seconds and a top speed of 158mph. Its predecessor had 416hp and 590Nm, took 5.9 seconds to hit 62mph and topped out at 150mph.

Suspension is carried over from the rest of the line-up, featuring a multi-link design made from aluminium, with steel springs and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM - adaptive damping in Porsche speak) as standard. Air springs and rear-axle steering are options. Despite the hybrid powertrain, the E-Hybrid retains its towing capability of up to 3,500kg for a braked trailer.

Externally, there are green-edged 'e-hybrid' badges and similarly green brake callipers to set the E-Hybrid apart, though buyers can change those at order time if they don't like the colour or look. Internally, the hybrid version is differentiated from its siblings by the addition of extra display options and menus. The E-Hybrid also gets the Sport Chrono package as standard, so the round steering wheel features Porsche's rotary driving mode selector on the steering wheel and the cabin is generously equipped as standard.

Retail pricing for the UK starts at 67,128.

How does it drive?

That really does rather depend on which driving mode you choose. The default setting is E-Power, which prioritises electric running. The Cayenne is acceptably brisk in this guise and very refined, making it ideal for dealing with heavy traffic situations and, despite its motorway speed capability, low-speed driving. The car automatically switches into Hybrid Auto when the battery charge is depleted to a certain level or the driver pushes the throttle all the way down, activating the 'kick-down' switch. Saying that, there's an E-Launch function that enables electric-only standing starts. Pointless in a large and heavy SUV, perhaps, but fun all the same. In Hybrid Auto, the petrol engine and/or the electric motor work together as the system deems fit for the given situation. It's the best all-round setting, we found, and one we suspect most British owners of the E-Hybrid will default to.

Above that are Sport and Sport Plus. As well as altering the characteristics of the power steering, damping, throttle response, exhaust note and transmission, these affect the use of the hybrid powertrain, for maximum acceleration in the case of Sport Plus. This car is undeniably fast in all situations, even without revving the engine out and going for the full electric boost, so the Sport Plus mode can feel a little over the top on the public road. Drivers can access all its characteristics for 20 seconds at a time by pressing the Sport Response button, anyway, which I suspect will be sufficient for most owners.

Aside from the impressive straight-line performance, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is quite dynamically sorted - more so than you might reasonably expect. The only significant negative point is an odd sensation through the brake pedal at low speeds, especially if the engine switches off as you slow down to a stop. At higher speeds, the brake pedal feels more or less as natural as that in any other Cayenne. Likewise, the E-Hybrid handles its extra weight well, allowing quite ludicrous cornering speeds and even some mid-corner adjustability. There's precious little in the way of feedback through the steering wheel rim, but the steering itself is well-judged in terms of weighting and directness, helping the Cayenne feel smaller and lighter than it is. On top of all that, the damping does an exceptional job of keeping body movements in check and it does so without getting too firm for carrying passengers on board.

Verdict

Porsche has made significant improvements to its hybrid SUV offering in the shape of the new Cayenne E-Hybrid, which is indecently fast, can be efficient if you religiously plug it in for a charge at every opportunity and surprisingly competent on the road. Buyers of the Cayenne that were holding out for the new diesel version might have to think twice.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 22 May 2018









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2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche.2018 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche.








 

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