24.3.2020Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid review
Porsche’s Cayenne - alongside the Panamera - is a key model for the German manufacturer when it comes to electrification. There are two plug-in hybrid versions available to buyers, the Cayenne E-Hybrid and range-topping Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. We drive both to see how these PHEVs perform within Porsche’s large SUV range.
Review by Chris Lilly
Alongside conventional petrol-powered models, the Cayenne is unusual in being offered with two PHEV options. The lower powered Cayenne E-Hybrid is hardly lacking in oomph, thanks to the combination of a turbo V6 petrol engine and 100 kW electric motor. Combined output is rated at 462 hp, with 700 Nm of torque available to push the Cayenne along. It allows for a 0-62 mph time of 5.0 seconds, and enough mid-range performance to satisfy most drivers’ performance requirements. For those that are in an even greater hurry, Porsche has just the ticket. The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid uses a 550 hp twin-turbo V8 petrol engine alongside the same 100 kW electric motor. This pushes the output to a simply colossal 680 hp and offers 900 Nm of torque. The acceleration time drops to just 3.8 seconds, and it feels it. The shove from the Cayenne when the throttle is pushes hard is hefty in ‘even’ the Cayenne E-Hybrid, with the electric motor providing most of the shove low down the rev-range. That instant response then passes the baton on to the petrol motor, to allow what is a large, heavy car, to outperform any a sportswear. The Turbo S E-Hybrid performs similarly, but more so. That push in the back is something I’ve only really experienced in very fast EVs and supercars previously, making this version of the Cayenne effectively a sportscar on stilts.
Handling is excellent considering the physics to which the Cayenne has to adhere. It’s a tall, large, and heavy car, like all luxury SUVs. As such, to make the car handle as well as it does is a testament to Porsche’s engineers. The Cayenne is one of the best road-focused SUVs on the market, and the electrified versions don’t let the side down at all. The steering is precise and well weighted, it cruises along on the motorway with aplomb, and it will deal relatively well in car parks and tight streets. To truly appreciate the Cayenne’s strengths, things need to get twister, where the chassis and suspension set-ups come to the fore. It’s a genuinely fun car to drive, far more so than any SIV has any right to be. There are adjustable modes to stiffen the air suspension available, though most of the time the Cayenne handles nicely in the normal setting.
The Cayenne has grown into a fairly stylish and refined model with this latest generation, and the Porsche is about as good looking as anything else in its class. This is a large, opulent class remember, with models as varied as the Range Rover and Volvo XC90 at one end of the scale, and Audi Q7 and BMW X5 at the other. The Porsche sits nicely within the class, distinctive enough to tell you its origins, but not too brash or distinctive. The design does mean it’s one of the least practical models when compared to rivals, but since the Cayenne remains a large SUV, space is not exactly at a premium. You can get seven-seater models for similar money, or SUVs with larger boots. There are also conventionally powered, plug-in hybrid, and pure-electric rivals, and a number of them beat the Cayenne for load and rear occupant space. However, this is only an issue of you are pushing for maximum space in your car, and the Cayenne will deal with a family’s kit and people comfortably. The rear seats have good levels of head, leg, and shoulder room to allow for four adults to be transported long distances in comfort, and the boot will swallow a fair amount of luggage. There’s no hidden cable storage so you will have to factor that in when packing, but its not tricky.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Porsche is in quite a sweet spot with its interiors currently, offering plenty of tech and great design for the place to feel special, but without the cabin becoming distracting. There’s a large widescreen infotainment system that dominates the centre console, while the driver gets a series of dials, with some in fact screens for a customisable display. Switches are largely touchscreen glass based elements with haptic feedback, or physical rockers and dials. The driver focus inherent from Porsche has seen a drive-mode select placed on the steering wheel for quick access to different set-ups. Seats are excellent throughout, particularly up front where there is plenty of lateral support - important considering the performance potential.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Fuel economy is tricky to gauge with PHEVs in general, but figures are at least useful for comparative purposes. The Cayenne E-Hybrid will return 91.1 MPG, while the Turbo S E-Hybrid is rated at 74.3 MPG. Clearly, if you drive everywhere with no charge, these are never going to be attainable considering the size of the engines fitted - either of them - though regular charging will see drivers exceed these stats with ease potentially. Driving range on electric power alone is officially stated as 27 miles for the Cayenne E-Hybrid and 25 miles for the Turbo S E-Hybrid. You’ll be hard pushed to beat 20 miles in either unless you are driving very carefully, but even 15-20 real-world miles will cover most daily trips for many.
Clearly the key green elements with the Cayenne models are the electric E-Hybrid components. The plug-in hybrid system allows for drivers to solely use the 100 kW electric motor for drive, and that’s powered by a 14.1 kWh battery in both models. This can be charged at up to 7.2 kW via the on-board Type 2 inlet on either model, though the higher powered on-board charger is only fitted as standard on the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. The Cayenne E-Hybrid gets a 3.6 kW on-board charger as standard, with the option of doubling that power rating - and thus effectively halving the charging speeds. Driving modes can help tailor the driving systems for efficiency, and the engine management system can coast or use brake energy recuperation to recharge the battery a little when driving.
Porsche effectively differs its models by the powertrain type rather than trim levels. Regardless of methods, equipment levels are good across the board, though in typical Porsche fashion, there are plenty of options available to select. For example, the Cayenne E-Hybrid tested costs £68,358 to buy, but options added on had seen that cost rise to £91,002. Fitted as standard to the entry level Cayenne E-Hybrid are 19-inch alloys, Sport Chrono pack, infotainment system with navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 10-speaker sound system, LED headlights, automatic lights and wipers, climate control, electric front seats, instrument cluster with two digital displays, sports steering wheel, partial leather upholstery, and powered tailgate. The Turbo S E-Hybrid sees the addition of various elements such as 21-inch alloys, ceramic composite brakes, heated front and rear seats, and Bose sound system.
Those in the market for a sports SUV will definitely be considering the Cayenne - it’s one of the best around. The addition of a plug-in hybrid powertrain means that you can have the best of both worlds, by accessing both high performance and high efficiency in one model. The Cayenne PHEV, either E-Hybrid or Turbo S E-Hybrid, is supremely quick and excellent to drive, particularly if you’re looking for a practical family car. Add in the ability to cover short trips without firing up the engine, and it could prove an efficient way to run what should be, by its nature, an inefficient car.
Model tested: Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid & Turbo S E-Hybrid
Body-style: Large SUV
Engine / CO2: Turbo V6 or Twin-turbo V8 engine with 100 kW electric motor / from 71 g/km
Trim grades: E-Hybrid and Turbo S E-Hybrid
On-road price: From £68,358.
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars