If you missed the giant script out back, then the bright-green brake calipers are a dead giveaway. This is Porsche’s hybridized, plug-in version of the Cayenne, and it’s not shy about flaunting its green credentials.
Updates for the 2015 model year have been pretty light throughout the rest of the Cayenne range, which falls into line with the Panamera lineup, offering twin-turbo efficiency rather than V8 grumble. There’s been a facelift too, though it’s pretty mild stuff – merely a tweak or two to the sheetmetal and new taillights. Knowing Porsche, a team of talented designers were probably sweating over the details for hundreds of hours, but the resulting product is much the same as the old car. Of course, the previous generation Cayenne is selling like crack-dipped hotcakes (nearly 600,000 of them over the years), so there’s plenty of pressure to keep things on an even keel.
However, where the hybrid version of the Cayenne is concerned, there’s a bit more room to play. Yes, it looks much the same as any of its siblings, but those acid-green accents (the official colour) mark this one out as the third addition to Porsche’s plug-in model range. These include the 918 Spyder, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, and this new Cayenne. One of these things is not like the others.
Leaving aside the damn-the-torpedoes supercar, Porsche’s more family-oriented machines have benefited from a bit of trickle-down thanks to Porsche’s endurance racing, but the results are not quite as pulse-quickening as you might think. Instead, what we have is a staggeringly complex piece of engineering designed to burn as little fuel as possible.
Like the Panamera S E-Hybrid, the Cayenne now comes with a 333 hp supercharged 3.0L V6 sourced from Audi as its gasoline-burning heart. Added to this is a more-powerful 97 hp electric motor, which combines for a total output of 416 hp at 5,500 rpm and a stellar 435 lb-ft of torque as low as 1,250 rpm. 0-100km/h time is essentially the same as the previous V8-powered Cayenne S.
The battery pack is a lithium-ion unit slightly larger than that found in the Panamera Hybrid, totalling 10.9 kWh. When fully charged, a process that takes 10 hours on a 120V charger but just 1.3 hours on a level II 240V charger, it’s good for a claimed range of up to 36 km. That’s a bit optimistic, but low 20s should be achievable.
Like all Porsches, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid has more buttons than the parts bin at a calculator factory, and how it drives is all about getting your settings just right. For this particular tester, that proved to be comfort and E-power selected. In such a mode, the Cayenne wafted easily under full electric power, coasting along serenely until we came to the first steepening section.
2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid wheel, steering wheel. Click image to enlarge
E-power mode is essentially a lock that drains the battery first before engaging the supercharged gasoline engine. It’s capable of up to 125 km/h of electric-only speed, but start climbing a hill, and you’re going to find yourself utilizing a 97 hp electric engine to push 2,350kg.
Porsche has built a sort of step into their accelerator – push down and you’ll feel a small resistance. Dip deeper into the power to motor up the hill and the engine kicks on and boosts you up. Lift throttle and it’s back to easy cruising.