Porsche is a no-holds-barred builder of fine automobiles, with a racing pedigree second to none. As someone who has in my previous career sold Porsche automobiles, I will be the first to admit they hold a special place in my heart. But that does not include the Cayenne and Macan SUV’s as they were introduced well after I left automotive retail. And an e-hybrid, well that’s a whole different discussion.
Times have changed in the past two decades and it is easy to see why SUV sales for the German automaker topped 70% in Canada for 2016. With the advantage of all-wheel drive, a sporty demeanor and luxury both inside and out befitting the family name, it’s hard not to like something so fast and practical all at the same time.
The 2017 Porsche Cayenne S e-hybrid Platinum Edition takes eco-friendly to a whole new level. Power comes in the form of a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that delivers 333 horsepower and a 95-horsepower electric motor. Together, they produce 416 horsepower 435 lb-ft of torque. Matched to an eight-speed Tiptronic S transmission, zero to 100 km/h takes just 5.9 seconds. Top speed reaches 243 km/h.
Acceleration is smooth and powerful despite its rather robust weight and full-bodied exterior. Reaching highway speeds from a standing or rolling start is easy. Passing slower moving vehicles is equally so. For even better performance, Sport mode improves throttle response and the transmission delivers a more engaging connection to the road. The S e-hybrid is capable of driving on electric-power only up to a maximum speed of 125 km/h.
Stopping and vehicle control is a breeze with 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS, ESC, Traction Control, Lane Departure Warning, Night Vision and much more. Should something unforeseen happen, a full complement of front and rear air bags are standard.
Unique drive modes offer multiple performance options while piloting the Cayenne S e-hybrid. Electric driving is pure emission-free driving with electric power only. Combustion is the best choice for highway speeds and long trips. Boost utilizes both electric and gasoline power to provide maximum acceleration. Coast allows for the combustion engine to shut off while underway for emission-free cruising and Recuperation recharges the battery during braking as well as turning off the combustion engine. In total, the seven drive modes breakdown as follows: E-Power, Hybrid, Hybrid Auto, E-Hold, E-Charge, Sport and Sport Plus.
Charging the e-hybrid is easy at home with the Porsche Universal Charger. With the 3.6-kilowatt on-board charger, the E-Hybrid will charge in 2.7 hours. With the optional 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger, the battery fully charges in 1.3 hours. On a full charge, it has an estimated electric driving range of approximately 22.5 km. Of course, this may vary due to weather, the seasons, your specific climate, etc.
How do you make an SUV look like a sports car? Two words, call Zuffenhausen; or in this case Bratislava, Slovakia. The exterior shape of the Cayenne S e-hybrid is all Porsche with rounded headlights and its unmistakably Germanic visage. Bi-Xenon headlights are standard. Our test vehicle featured the Porsche Dynamic Light System with LED lighting for a touch of magic.
Wheel arch extensions are painted to colour match the dynamic Purpurit metallic paint, a $3,590 option. Bright green paint accents the brake calipers and is featured on all exterior badges. The Platinum Edition comes with standard 20-inch RS Spyder Design wheels finished in satin platinum. Outside mirrors feature LED accent lights and automatic dimming, while accessing the trunk is as easy as pushing a button on the key fob.
Getting into the Cayenne S e-hybrid is a little more challenging with 8-way sports seats highlighting Alcantara centers that feature high, prominently contoured side bolstering for optimum support. Support is beautiful, but getting over the side bolsters requires a plan of attack.
Once inside, the cockpit is a symphony of high-tech wizardry, a driver-friendly working environment and enough brushed metal accents so as to emphasize the sportiness, but not overpower with too much bling.
Five round gauges define the working hub of a Porsche and the Cayenne is no exception. Central to the set is a large tachometer, which in today’s automatic world almost seems strange, but its tradition. Sound for the infotainment system is provided by a standard 585-Watt Bose audio (as noted in the video). The Platinum Edition takes it one step further with a 665-Watt Bose system. It offers blissful amounts of power with enough speakers to deliver exceptional performance.
The center console can be a little daunting at first with its plethora of available suspension and performance settings, HVAC controls, handgrips, cupholders and, of course, a gearlever. Paddle-shifters are mounted behind the steering wheel for easy access. But once you begin to play around with the setup, chose your temperature, activate the heated seats on a cold day and lock in your Starbucks coffee cup, it’s all pretty normal. This includes the infotainment screen which, though it is big and looks intimidating, works equally well.
Rear seat room is just fine for 2-3 occupants from kids to adult size. Rear storage, however, suffers dramatically with the fact this is an e-hybrid. With the charger bag in place, there is little room for more than a few boxes, bags or suitcases, unless you choose to stack items. Not ideal for a road trip, but it still works for driving around town, although hockey bags will be a serious challenge. Views outward were enhanced in our test vehicle with the panoramic roof system, a $2,120 option.
There is little direct competition for the Cayenne e-hybrid, but that is not to say the competitive landscape is a walk in the park. While offerings from BMW and Land Rover are not exact given the X5 and Range Rover Sport don’t feature hybrid models, they are still in the same price range and therefore demand respect. The Tesla Model X is a sincere rival and with all the positive hype surrounding Tesla these days, Porsche has to be on their game. Have no fear. The Cayenne may not have changed dramatically in the past 15 years, but this seems to be a pattern with Porsche vehicles and from what I can see, that suits me just fine.
2017 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hydrid
Trim level: Platinum Edition
Price as tested (before taxes): $111,200.00
Configuration: front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.0L V6 supercharged/10.8 kWh battery/8-speed Tiptronic S
Power/torque: 416 hp/435 lb-ft
Fuel-economy combined ratings (L/100km): gasoline: 10.6 L/100 km, hybrid: 5.1 L/100 km
Warranty (basic): 4 years/80,000 km
Competitors: BMW X5, Range Rover Sport, Tesla Model X
- Available power is excellent
- Luxurious interior, great sport seats
- Porsche quality inside and out
- Rear storage space is at a premium
- Electric only range is very short
- Expensive options list