The Cayenne S Hybrid is a parallel full hybrid, distinctly different from demure cousins like the Toyota Prius. It mates a direct-injected, 3.0-liter DOHC V6 to a 47-hp electric motor/starter/generator powered by a 240-cell NiMH (nickel metal hydride) battery pack, weighing a meager 152 pounds and producing a peak 288 volts. The entire powertrain provides 380 bhp and 427 lb-feet of torque. The battery pack fits in the former spare-tire well. An eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, with two overdrive gears, is a subtle snub to new-fangled CVTs.
For an overseer, Porsche installed an brain called the Hybrid Manager. The Hybrid Manager coordinates the power sources to create one seamless control system. The Hybrid Manager can reengage the ICE in a mere 0.3 seconds.
How capable is this system? Unsurprisingly, Porsche’s engineers crafted a phenomenal machine. With a top speed of 150 mph, the Cayenne is no soccer mom’s recreational vehicle, and it has a respectable 0-60 sprint at 6.1 seconds.
Porsche adds eco-friendliness to the Cayenne’s elegant performance. Achieving an EPA estimated 24 mpg (combined) is a gargantuan leap from the 13/19 mpg of the past Cayenne S. Porsche engineers equipped the Cayenne with “sailing,” which allows coasting up to 97 mph using only electric power. The Cayenne, driven by a reserved driver, can travel on all-electric power up to 31-40 mph. And, like most hybrids, the Cayenne employs regenerative braking and a stop/start ICE function. Two power modes, E-power (all-electric) and E-boost (complementary electric boost) complete the package.
How does this hybrid hulk handle? With an independent double wishbone front suspension, independent multilink rear suspension, and outfitted with Porsche’s baby of an AWD system, the Cayenne S Hybrid handles seamlessly. It is neither rollicking nor feisty, but it does deliver a creamy smooth ride and impeccable handling.
The interior is lavishly strewn with luxurious features, including:
• HD infotainment interface;
• Bluetooth/USB capability;
• Adaptive cruise control;
• Navigation system;
• 16-speaker, surround-sound audio system with rear DVD display;
• Rear-view park assist.
The Cayenne S Hybrid features a cornucopia of front and rear airbags, 4-wheel ABS, braking assist, sturdy A-pillars, traction control, stability control and a TPMS, all to protect its 4,398-pound body.
Will it sell? The hybrid is only expected to be 5-10% of U.S. Cayenne sales. But that isn’t the point. The hybrid is a poster child, meaning that fewer decibels do not mean tedium, efficiency does not mean lack of performance, and Porsche still means peak performance.