Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Review New Zealand
No, not its paintwork, although that might make this SUV even more interesting, I’m talking about its move towards caring for the environment and its highly advanced technology.
Since Porsche burst onto the scene almost ninety years ago, the brand has virtually always been about premium performance. Cars that, although are perfectly at home at either the track or in the city, they undoubtedly feel happier when the rev counter heads north. So when Porsche first introduced four doors to a vehicle in 2002 (I’m excluding the 1967 stretched 911) and called it Cayenne, the automotive world took a bit of a gulp. As it turned out, we needn’t have worried. Now in its 3rd generation, the Cayenne has fitted in just fine with its target audience, they have embraced it with open arms.
But being a marque that’s always keen to push boundaries, Porsche made another radical step in 2007 by introducing a Hybrid model to the Cayenne range (production version 2010) – were they crazy? Evidently not. With its V6 and electric motor combo, the S-Hybrid brought the SUV’s emissions down to 193g/km, no mean feat, without compromising performance. Then, in 2014 Porsche introduced the ‘first of its class’ Plug-in Hybrid, the S E-Hybrid boasting an ‘all-electric’ range of up to 36km and paving the way for the vehicle I found myself driving right now.
My generation 3 Cayenne is bolder and smarter than ever before. From the outside, it still looks big (it should, as it’s a shade under 5m long) but with a sizable front apron, bold fenders and a roof that descends down towards the rear, it carries this mass well. The SUV’s tail includes a glorious light strip filled with LED technology and symmetrical exhaust tips that offer eye candy down low. In fact, my large pure white Cayenne would be hard to distinguish between its solely fossil fueled siblings, had it not been for the green.
Porsche call it Acid Green. It’s a striking colour that surrounds the E-Hybrid and Cayenne badging and shines brightly from the large brake callipers nestled inside the new and exclusive 21-inch Cayenne AeroDesign wheels. The colour is actually hard to miss and reinforces the fact that you’re driving HYBRID – if you’ve got it, flaunt it I say. After all, aside from the actual speed and power, the engine does very little in terms of shouting, it really is that quite.
The facts are, it has a 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 engine that produces 250kW that gradually delivers its power and torque as it picks up speed. But it also has an electric motor that makes its maximum 100kW of torque available immediately. So added together you get 700 Nm of world-turning torque and near to 350kW of power that will move this sizeable beast from 0 to 100 km/h in around 5.0 seconds and up to a top speed of 253 km/h. Throw in emissions of just 79g/km, fuel consumption of 3.4L/100km (not too sure I’d get anywhere near this) and an all-electric range of up to 44 km and you get a green ‘silent assassin’ of a powertrain.
Enough of all that, how does it drive? I’m choosing to head to Piha, surfers territory. Not because I’m going to head onto the beach (although I could) but because there is a spiritual feeling to the area, that and the fact that there’s a whole host of twisties along the way there.
The lack of sound inside the Porsche is a little unnerving. I’m used to their loud exhaust notes and angry engines. The pure EV mode is obviously silent but even when it seamlessly transfers to fossil, the cabin is so well insulated it’s bizarre, or in any other language, premium. And premium is what the SUV’s spacious interior has in abundance. Comfortable leather seats, piano blacks contrasting with chrome, acid green hands on the analogue timer and Rev Counter and a touch-sensitive (PCM) layout that spreads from the centre console to the infotainment screen. It has more menu’s than a 5-star Michelin restaurant yet it’s also easy to navigate around.
As I head away from prying eyes, I push the Hybrid mode button and then head over to Sports Plus, squeezing down on the accelerator as I go. What immediately flashes up on the instrument cluster is the boost circle, begging me to engage warp speed. Happily accepting the invite, a quick push on the button in the centre of the drive-mode-select dial on the steering wheel and I have 20 seconds of all guns a blazing power – magnificent.
As the speed goes into treble figures, I still have over 15 seconds up my sleeve – this Cayenne is quick! The steering feels tight and responsive and even as I head along the narrow, winding roads that lead out west, I am in total control of this big, performance SUV. The suspension has a floatiness about it but not in a wallowing way, more in an absorb any bump but keep you firmly planted way, damn it feels good.
Grabbing an ice cream at the Piha store, I settled down to admire my ride. In many ways, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is not your normal Porsche. It’s four doors, it’s big, it’s battery-powered and family friendly but then again, when you consider its off the line and top-speed performance, its driver-focused cockpit, its exceptional handling, the Marque’s on and off track EV focus and that Gold, Black and Red shield, maybe this Bright, Green, Porsche is a leap towards the brands future than I think.