2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Published on September 07, 2011

One hot looking SUV, and it drives even better than it looks. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

New Cayenne design makes its biggest improvements to the rear end. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

The new Cayenne handles brilliantly while delivering superb fuel economy. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

If you like the Panamera's interior you're going to like the totally revised Cayenne's cabin too. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Porsche does seats very well. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Published on September 07, 2011

Under the hood this Cayenne is radically different, with the orange wires indicating high-voltage electrical power. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

The words Porsche and hybrid will likely seem as oddly associated now as the words Porsche and SUV did when the Cayenne started production nearly a decade ago, but we've all grown fondly familiar of the Teutonic sports car brand's sport utility and those in the know have learned that a jolt of electricity can certainly be motivating off the line.

Lexus was the first premium brand to use hybrid technology as a performance enhancer first and foremost, electrifying the V6 of its GS 450h for quicker acceleration than its V8-powered sibling while simultaneously reducing fuel economy. Others would follow from Lexus, as would a few from competitors, Porsche's entry being the first in the hybrid-SUV segment to truly put performance as priority number one.

The result is an SUV worthy of its Cayenne "S" Hybrid nameplate, with combined ICE-electric motor output equaling 380-horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 427 lb-ft of torque at a staggeringly low and ridiculously tractable 1,000 rpm. Compare this to the V8 in the standard Cayenne S, which produces a maximum of 400-horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm and its easy to see why the hybrid is the Cayenne performance choice this side of the Turbo, at least on paper. The engine specs show that what it gives away in power it makes up for by attaining its maximum rating a thousand rpm sooner, and the torque comparison holds no argument with 58 lb-ft more available 2,500 rpm sooner! And this from an engine that's two cylinders and 1.8 litres smaller in displacement at 3.0 litres, plus the addition of a supercharger.

Say what? Yup, leave it to a sports car maker to strap a blower to a hybrid, and that they did in order to maximize performance across the rev spectrum. It's pulled right out of the Audi S4, incidentally, good company indeed. And what's more, unlike most hybrids there's no spongy continuously variable transmission under the centre console but rather a real modern-day torque-converted automatic with no less than eight forward speeds.

The result of such wondrous trickery isn't quite what I expected after reading the engine specs, however, as the standard V8-powered Cayenne S sprints from zero to 100 km/h in less than six seconds whereas the new hybrid takes a half second longer. That might have something to do with the electrically-powered Cayenne's extra 175 kilos (386 pounds) of mass and the V8's 20 extra horsepower once the revs reach maximum spin, but either way the Cayenne S Hybrid lays down respectable acceleration.

More advantageous is the Hybrid's speed as it passes by the refueling station, all the while achieving an estimating rating of 9.7 L/100km in the city and 8.0 on the highway. Even without the Hybrid's regenerative braking and idle start-stop technology the V8-powered Cayenne S comes pretty close to matching the electrically infused variant on the highway at 8.8 L/100km, but the real savings come in the city where most of us drive with the V8 chugging down 13.4 L/100km of premium unleaded. My real world testing had me close to the U.S. EPA metric-equivalent rating of around 10 L/100km combined city/highway. Excellent by any SUV's standards let alone one with the Cayenne S Hybrid's performance credentials and luxury appointments.

Up until this point it might have seemed like the new Cayenne S Hybrid is only about performance and fuel economy, but that would be far from the case. Rather it gets all of the updates granted to other 2011 Cayennes, including an all new much lighter weight body shell, that I must admit to liking a great deal more than its predecessor from a styling standpoint. Inside it gets what I can only call the Panamera treatment, which means ultra-cool design and upgraded materials quality, plus new features galore.

All Cayennes come nicely fitted with all the expected powered functions, plus items like a heated multifunction steering wheel, eight-way power heated partial-leather seats, a touch-screen infotainment interface, a powered rear liftgate, and 18-inch alloy rims on P255/55R18 all-season rubber. The Cayenne S, including the Hybrid, adds black front air intake trim, larger brakes with silver-painted calipers, and memory function to the front seats.

Interior roominess is good, by the way, and cargo space is decent at 580 litres (20.4 cubic feet) behind the second row and 1,690 litres (59.6 cubic feet) when those 60/40 split seatbacks are tumbled forward. That's slightly less than conventionally powered Cayennes, by the way, which offer another 90 litres (3.2 cubic feet) of cargo carrying space with the seats up or down.

The Cayenne S Hybrid starts at $77,500 plus $1,115 destination, $4,800 more than the V8-powered Cayenne S. Is it worth it? You'll have to compare by figuring in the Hybrid's 20-percent fuel economy advantage over the V8 and then factoring for your personal driving habits for a dollar for dollar evaluation. Improvements in CO2 emissions plus the feel-good factor of driving a hybrid are more difficult to weight out mathematically.

My seat of the pants assessment is that Porsche has succeeded in offering a hybrid worthy of its storied name, in the same way that its new Cayenne is one of, if not the best sport-luxury SUV currently on the market. Somehow the terms Porsche and hybrid associate just as well as Porsche and SUV do now. You'll appreciate this more fully once you drive it.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Porsche, 2011, Cayenne S Hybrid, $75,000 - $99,999,

Organizations: Porsche

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments