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Driven: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. Image by Porsche UK.

Driven: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
The same drivetrain as the last hybrid Porsche we drove, only this time sitting a little higher off the road.

 



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Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: styling, interior, handling, refinement, brilliance of the car with the battery pack charged up

Not so good: it's a petrol V6 hauling a lot of weight around when the battery pack isn't charged up

Key Facts

Model tested: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
Price: Cayenne range from 55,965; E-Hybrid from 67,128, car as tested 81,327
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol with supplementary 100kW electric motor and 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic, PTM all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door plug-in hybrid SUV
CO2 emissions: 79g/km (VED Band 76-90: 95 in year one, then 440 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 130 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 83.1mpg
Top speed: 157mph
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Power: petrol 340hp at 5,300-6,400rpm; electric motor 136hp; combined system maximum output 462hp from 5,250-6,400rpm
Torque: petrol 400Nm from 1,340-5,300rpm; electric motor 400Nm; combined system maximum output 700Nm from 1,000-3,750rpm
Boot space: 645-1,610 litres

Our view:

With Porsche backing away from diesel, then this part-electrified Cayenne SUV is the future of fuel-saving models for the German brand. It's the E-Hybrid, which teams a 3.0-litre, 340hp V6 turbocharged petrol with a 100kW (136hp) electric motor, in order to serve up official figures of 83.1mpg combined and 79g/km of CO2. Save for the fact it ran a 330hp 2.9 V6, this is - in essence - the same drivetrain as the last Porsche plug-in hybrid we drove, only installed in a taller body.

To be fair, though, the Cayenne Mk3 is a handsome old thing. We've never liked the aesthetics of the largest Porsche SUV prior to this, but by steady evolution and tweakery over the course of 16 years, the Cayenne has now veered into the realms of the 'visually acceptable'. Attractive, even. With its full-width rear light strip, four-point LED front running lamps and little touches of acid-green detailing (for the badges and brake callipers, to signify the hybrid nature of the machine), it's a cohesive piece of design. The interior is even better, because it's hugely spacious and beautifully wrought, while there are superb visual and ergonomic touches everywhere, such as the giant and crisp touchscreen for the Porsche Communication Management infotainment, that banked array of haptic buttons on the sloping centre console, the vertical dash face with two upright air vents framing it either side and the part-digital 'five-dial' instrument cluster, with an analogue rev counter front and centre - an age-old Porsche trait.

The E-Hybrid's main skill, though, is the way it drives. It manages to blend all the luxury, comfort, noise suppression and mechanical refinement you'd expect of a high-end SUV with the marque's historic ability to get the best from steering feel, handling and performance. The electrified Cayenne is an absolute joy to drive quickly, as large SUVs go, with near-perfect body control and also Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) allowing the 20-inch wheels to breathe with the road, the E-Hybrid never thumping into compressions and small potholes. However, it's the incredible comfort of the Cayenne which sticks in the memory - on the motorway and cruising along A-roads, it feels as serene and smooth as a luxury limousine. It's a wonderful thing to be in, which is lucky because we did almost 500 miles in it during a week. We'd have happily done plenty more.

The key to unlocking this comfort is the optional Adaptive Air Suspension with PASM (1,511), which brings us onto a slight niggle. Porsche is still the brand most known for having a very lengthy and expensive options list, on which you really do need to tick several things come ordering time. So there's part-leather as standard, but for the full hide of our test car, you need to shell out a further 2,331. A sedate metallic paint, such as Moonlight Blue, is 749 - Porsche is not alone in charging for metallic colours, but 750 notes is a little on the high side for such a thing. Ditto 497 for soft-close doors, 548 for a textured aluminium interior package and 413 for your roof rails to be in a matte aluminium finish, although we would heartily recommend the 956 Bose Surround Sound System, which is marvellous.

All told, when you start adding goodies to the E-Hybrid's circa 67,000 starting price, you end up with a five-seat SUV - there's no seven-seat option in the Cayenne - that is 81,327. And you still have the main issue that pertains to any plug-in hybrid EV, which is that you need to charge it regularly to get the best from it. Like Porsche's other hybrid models, the Cayenne uses its electric and petrol reserves most efficiently when you programme in a destination on the satnav (so, even if you know where you're going and the route by which to get there, it's best to key it into the PCM anyway), as it works out where it needs to run on its EV motor to get the best overall economy. With a full charge in the battery, we drove from Porsche's UK HQ in Reading to a hotel just outside Woking at rush hour, a snarled-up journey down the M4 and A329(M), and yet this big SUV managed to turn in 62.3mpg during a 29-mile journey that took a crippling hour and ten minutes. That's fantastic stuff - and yet, once motorway runs were factored in (we charged the E-Hybrid two more times from a domestic socket during the week), it gave back an overall figure of 34mpg, which is not quite so good for a diesel alternative... but perhaps it's worth remembering that this is a 462hp, two-tonne, all-wheel-drive, automatic vehicle that can run 0-62mph in five seconds dead, so 34mpg over 490.3 miles is not too shabby at all.

Anyway, the long and short of this review is that, despite its expense, lack of seven-seat option and the middling fuel economy you'll see if you deplete the battery pack completely, in every other respect this is the best Porsche Cayenne we've driven yet. Cultured, great handling, wonderfully built inside and nice to look at outside, this is Stuttgart's largest SUV in its most sensible - and desirable - guise yet. As long as you don't have a larger brood than three children, there are few vehicles in this class that we'd recommend above the Cayenne E-Hybrid.

Alternatives:

Audi Q7 e-tron: this runs a similar system to the Porsche but because it's not as powerful, it's not as quick nor as good to drive. Also, the Q7 is no aesthetic beauty.

BMW X5 xDrive40e: a new X5 is here, so we await a refreshed PHEV version, but the BMW has a coarser 2.0-litre, four-pot engine, poorer ride and less thrilling handling. Porsche wins, hands down.

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine: the big Swede doesn't get close to the Cayenne E-Hybrid for handling dynamics, but on refinement, looks and interior finishing, it's on a par. And it has seven seats, too...


Matt Robinson - 25 Oct 2018









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

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








 

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