19 July 2018
A few extra pounds of weight, many more miles of travel and a lot of “sustainable” power. Despite its not exactly compact dimensions, the new Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid offers the performance of a supercar and the operating range of a sedan, thanks to the now well-integrated hybrid technology and the connected and proactive driving assistance systems. In the South of France, in the fascinating and lush region of Camargue where we went to try it out, it left us first literally lost for words with its ability to travel with zero emissions, running solely on electric power for almost 27 miles, and then simply open-mouthed at the overall consumption figures: the 47 mpg-e in combined mode, with the batteries charged, dropped to 23-28 as soon as we decided to push it to the limits of its performance. The result, out of the question until just a few years ago, at the dawn of the SUV’s invention, was achieved by putting the hybrid system to work: i.e. the gasoline-powered 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine putting out 340 hp in combination with the 136 hp of the electric motor, set between the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and the V6 engine. If desired, the dial on the steering wheel can be used to select other drive modes for this Cayenne: E-Power, which runs the car on the electric motor alone, if the lithium batteries are sufficiently charged, Sport and Sport Plus, which squeezes every single horse power out of the engine. It is with this last mode that the highest performance is attained: a top speed of 157 mph and an acceleration of 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. And the range? The charging time? They’re not a problem, because the Cayenne hybrid is also a plug-in, i.e. it can be charged from a normal electrical outlet or from dedicated pedestals. Obviously the difference lies in the time you have to wait, which varies from 7-8 hours to a few tens of minutes. In any case, it is possible to decide when you’re already on the move, through special drive modes, to maintain the charge at its current level or to use the internal-combustion engine as a generator to charge the battery as you drive. Something that we did to check the increase in overall consumption, which was there, although very moderate. Weighing about 660 lbs more than the gasoline-powered version, 5,181 lbs in all, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is able to behave dynamically in a surprising way, with the aid of the driving assistance systems, amongst which we would also include the rear-axle steering and the active air suspension—although these are optional. Obviously, emissions have been slashed too, to a level of 258 grams per mile, that of a city car. And if you’re worried about your baggage, the batteries have taken very little space away from the trunk of a non-hybrid Cayenne. One last detail concerns smart connectivity and infotainment. Here Porsche, which for the powertrain has taken its inspiration from the technology tried out on the 918 Spyder, the hybrid hypercar with a maximum output of almost 900 hp, has introduced—or is about to introduce—numerous innovations. Among them, in addition to the adaptive cruise control that reads much in advance, for example, the speed limits on the stretch of road on which you are traveling and adjusts the speed by slowing the car in a gentle and fluid manner, is the Remote Park Assist, which recognizes and measures parking spaces and then positions the car in them, leaving the driver with nothing to do, an operation that can also be controlled remotely from outside the vehicle. A function, this last, that is still under development and will become available from next year.