Oh, how we loved to detest the ‘H’ word. Once upon a time, hybrids were engineered as fuel-sippers, nothing more, with strange brake pedal feel, batteries that ate up half the cargo area, and a driving experience that only your aging parents would find acceptable. But then came hybrid powertrains in Formula 1 and then they were found in the latest supercars, including the Porsche 918 Hybrid. And now, everything is different says Porsche. Hybrid doesn’t indicate vehicular buzzkill, it represents performance. But is Porsche right or is it just feeding you a load of electrons?
Consider first that Porsche’s original Cayenne E-Hybrid was actually a bit of a buzzkill. That hybrid system was mostly optimized for the same purpose as most garden-variety hybrids: returning better fuel economy to its penny-pinching or more likely, eco-conscious driver. But now, Porsche tells us that the hybrid system in its new Cayenne E-Hybrid might be somewhat more fuel efficient than the powertrain in the up-market, sporty Cayenne S, (might be, no EPA numbers are available yet) but the real reason you should buy one is because it starts at $3,000 less than the Cayenne S and gives virtually as much performance. In fact, the E-Hybrid’s 0 to 60 mph time is lower. And if you factor in the extra standard equipment in the Cayenne E-Hybrid, you’re looking at a nearly $10,000 savings over a comparably equipped Cayenne S. Now you’ve got our attention, Porsche.
The all-new Cayenne E-Hybrid looks pretty much the same as any other third-generation Cayenne on the market, but look closer and you’ll see the acid green ‘E-Hybrid’ script on the front fenders and the acid green coating on the brake calipers that tell people you opted for the other Cayenne. The one that doesn’t sell too well. Want to tone it down a little? New for this generation, Porsche will let you have the script in black and the standard brakes with raw cast-iron finish calipers. Granted, you won’t be fooling anyone when they get inside where a four-mode drive mode dial swaps between Hybrid Auto, E-Power, Sport and Sport Plus modes and the instrument panel and 12.3-inch center display both proudly display remaining electric-only range, among other functions including a dedicated Hybrid menu screen.
But now, as Porsche recommends, you can tell your confused passengers that “Wait! Hybrid actually stands for Performance!” And when you slam your foot down on the long skinny pedal on the right while in Sport Plus mode (or any mode, really, but mostly Sport or Sport Plus mode for the sharper response and full dose of electric power) your passengers will actually believe you because in just 4.7 seconds you’ll have hit 60 mph and they’ll be pulling their noggins out of the leather-wrapped headrests and wondering where you learned to drive like this. This is all made possible by the single-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine underhood (335 hp/332 lb-ft of torque) paired with an electric motor (134 hp/295 lb-ft of torque–43% more output than the previous version) for a total of 455 hp and a whopping 516 lb-ft, which is why your neck has been sore all week. That’s nearly as much power and the same amount of torque as the initial second-generation V-8-powered Cayenne Turbo.
As mentioned, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is quicker from a standstill to 60 mph than the more expensive Cayenne S, partly due to the low-down torque of the electric motor, though the 600 lbs of extra batteries stuffed underneath the slightly raised cargo floor help temper that edge as speed increases. In the end, the Cayenne S will hit a top speed of 164 mph versus the E-Hybrid’s 157 mph, but as much as you think you will, you’re never going to go that fast anyway. Especially not in a Cayenne. On the plus side, battery capacity is up some 30 percent and we saw an estimated electric-only range of about 25 miles from our tester on a full charge. Porsche’s not quite yet willing to say how accurate that range is, but we can say that with approximately 15 miles of E-range left and a 12-mile city-street jaunt back to our hotel at the end of the day, we made it back with a just over a couple miles of indicated range to spare.
The various drive modes also regulate how much of the battery’s power you get to play with and how quickly the battery is recharged. Both Sport and Sport Plus modes allow nearly full use of battery power, but while Sport only recharges at a minimal level, Sport Plus aims to keep the battery topped up as much as possible. The E-Power and Hybrid Auto modes limit battery output to conserve power for electric-only driving, which can be done up to 83 mph, though acceleration past 30 mph or so in E-Power mode alone is fairly slow going. Best to get up to speed with both electricity and gas, then hold your cruise with E-power alone. When you run out of juice, plug your Cayenne E-Hybrid in with the supplied standard 3.6 kW charger and you’ll have full batteries in about 6 hours. Opt for the $840 7.2 kW quick charger and the same deed is done in half the time, 2.3 to 3 hours, says Porsche. Or just manage charging with the gasoline engine while you’re driving.
Of course, all the other bells and whistles of other current Cayennes are found here, including the nifty all-wheel steering system, eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic gearbox (it’s no PDK, but it’s plenty smooth, quick and responsive for an SUV) and Porsche Traction Management system that we’ve discussed in other Cayenne reviews. Porsche says you can even tow up to 7,716 lbs with the Cayenne E-Hybrid should you specify the optional trailer hitch when you place your order. Which you can do right now, if you want to. The ordering process has begun. The base price of $81,150 (including the $1,250 destination fee) includes the Sport Chrono Package, Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Traction Management, 4D Chassis Control and LED lighting.
In fact, we’re even hinted that there just might happen to be quite a few Cayenne E-Hybrids sitting at the docks, just waiting to be put into the garages of their excited new owners as soon as Porsche finalizes its fuel economy figures with the EPA. Not that any Cayenne E-Hybrid buyers should care what those are.
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Specifications
|MOTOR||3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/335 hp @5,300-6,400 rpm, 332 lb-ft @ 1,340-5,300 rpm plus electric motor 134 hp, 295 lb-ft; combined 455 hp, 516 lb-ft|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD SUV|
|L x W x H||193.6 x 78.0 x 66.7 in|
|0–60 MPH||4.7 sec|
|TOP SPEED||157 mph|