2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Review

Can one SUV Have it All?

The Porsche Cayenne has more faces than a game of Guess Who.

Available in an assortment of trims, the Cayenne spans a massive price range that takes it from luxurious to opulent. Engine choices alone are staggering. Six-cylinders, eight-cylinders, turbochargers, superchargers and even a diesel can be had in Porsche’s big SUV. But the most interesting model of them all, or at least the most unique, has to be the Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

A plug-in hybrid SUV sounds like the most un-Porsche thing possible. How can the maker of some of the world’s best sports cars produce an eco-friendly SUV? The term plug-in hybrid immediately conjures up thoughts of cars like the Prius plug-in and Ford C-Max. Both may be incredibly efficient, but are horribly dull to drive.

But there is another world of plug-in hybrids that includes the McLaren P1 and Porsche’s own supercar, the 918 Spyder. Although this isn’t a supercar by any stretch of the imagination, the Cayenne E-Hybrid does take some technological inspiration from the 918.

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E-ngine

The E-Hybrid uses a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that makes 333 HP and 325 lb-ft. of torque. It’s fused to a 70 kW electric motor that on its own develops 95 HP and 229 lb-ft. of torque. Together, the two power plants combine to make a total of 416 HP and 435 lb-ft. of torque.

2016-Porsche-Cayenne-S-E-Hybrid-cargoThat places the E-Hybrid pretty much on par with the regular Cayenne S power-wise. But, the E-Hybrid carries an extra 350-600 lbs. of weight compared to other Cayennes, tipping the scales at 5,181 lbs. Still, the brute can hammer from 0 to 60 MPH from a standstill in 5.4 seconds.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Porsche Cayenne GTS Review – Video

A lot of this has to do with the double whammy of torque from the supercharged engine and electric motor. Stomp on the throttle form a stop and the Cayenne launches with surprising urgency for the horizon. But, there’s a momentary hesitation from the eight-speed automatic transmission that, like a rollercoaster cresting a hill, creates a split second of anticipation for the big rush of speed.

Unlike a lot of plug-in hybrids, the Cayenne does indeed come with a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive. And like most automatic Porsches, the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s transmission can be controlled by steering wheel mounted paddles.

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E-lectrifying

The E-Hybrid has a lithium ion battery pack that is ten times larger than the old Cayenne Hybrid’s unit. The electric motor is capable of driving the Cayenne at speeds up to 78 MPH, at which point a sort of electronic limiter holds the speed steady. Need more power? Simply press the pedal down pass its resistance point and the gas engine will fire right up.

2016-Porsche-Cayenne-S-E-Hybrid-chargingThat false resistance point programmed into the Cayenne’s accelerator pedal is fantastic. Depending on a host of factors, the pedal becomes firm when maximum electric output is reached so the driver knows that if any more pressure is applied, the SUV will go from pure electric to gasoline hybrid mode.

On the highway, the eight-speed transmission remains in lower gears when driving on all-electric power (called E-Power) to ensure the less powerful electric motor can keep the Cayenne up to speed. Around the city, driving the Cayenne in electric mode smoothly is a challenge. The aforementioned delay from the transmission combined with nearly 300 lb-ft. of instant torque makes for jerky departures from a stop.

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E-conomical

The Cayenne has an E-Charge mode that will force charge the battery while driving using the gasoline engine as a generator. Even if this mode is not selected, it will still trickle charge the battery and over time partially replenish the battery pack for all electric driving.

The E-Hybird is officially rated at 47 MPGe or 22 MPG combined when only the gas engine is operating. After driving the SUV for a week, I averaged 28.3 MPG in mixed conditions with a few full battery charges. From a full charge, I would get roughly 13 miles before the batter pack was depleted and began recharging again.

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E-ngaging?

Being a Porsche, a certain level of sportiness is expected; even if this is a plug-in hybrid SUV. Steering feel, something most SUVs don’t have and don’t care about, is present in small doses in the Cayenne. In fact, it’s not all that bad even with the tall profile 19-inch tires.

2016-Porsche-Cayenne-S-E-Hybrid-rearOverall vehicle responses are a bit delayed though and I can always feel the vehicle’s significant weight. This is no Boxster. In fact, it’s not anywhere near the sportiest Cayenne either. But, for an SUV carrying a large battery pack, its performance is respectable.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Porsche Cayenne Review – Video

With the base steel spring suspension, there is still a noticeable difference in the ride settings between comfort, sport and sport plus. In comfort mode, the SUV smoothens out bumps and the steering becomes a bit numb. One nuance I have noticed is that the Cayenne is not dead quite when in all electric drive mode. Various cooling fans and transmission noises can be heard at all times.

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E-veryone Knows it’s a Hybrid

A Porsche Cayenne with all this technology needs to be flaunted to the world. Or at least that’s the impression I get as the E-Hybrid comes standard with bright acid green calipers and badges that are shadowed with the same acid green hue.

Inside the acid green treatment is more subdued as only the gauge needles are finished in the attention-getting color. Instead of a redundant speedometer, the gauge beside the tachometer in the main cluster is a power meter. It shows how much charge is being sent to the vehicles batteries or how much engine power is being used. If more than 100% of the engines power is needed, there is a section appropriately called boost that kicks on the electric motor for a little extra grunt. It feels a lot like when a turbo spools-up.

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E-nding: 2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Review

Of course the Cayenne S E-Hybrid still comes with all the luxuries you should expect in a SUV costing over $85,590 as tested. The E-Hybrid is not the quickest SUV on the road, but it isn’t intended to be. It’s more of a technological showcase from Porsche on how efficiency, luxury and performance can all come together in a single package. Even with a few flaws, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid is still a well put together SUV for those of you who want it all, including that prestigious Porsche badge.

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