Porsche Cayenne Hybrid review: ‘It delivers more than just tax breaks’

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid review: ‘It delivers more than just tax breaks’
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid review: ‘It delivers more than just tax breaks’

Now that the diesel model has been put on the back burner, this Hybrid is the Cayenne to have if saving on tax and running costs is important

Porsche reckons it didn’t really say the other day that diesels have been scribbled out of their future model plans. The company did say however that its whole strategy is ‘under review’.

Read into that what you will, but at the very least you can say that, right here and right now, this new Cayenne Hybrid assumes a greater level of importance than it might have done before Porsche’s statement.

Many manufacturers with a hybrid powertrain elsewhere in the range would have chucked it straight into another model without revision, but that’s not the Porsche way. The hybrid system that’s already in the 4WD Panamera is related to the one in this 4WD Cayenne, but it’s not the same.

The Cayenne Hybrid’s engine is different for a start. It’s a 3.0-litre turbo V6 rather than the Panamera’s 2.9-litre unit. That sounds like it should be good, until you look at one rationale for the Pana’s smaller capacity. It’s come about as the consequence of Porsche fitting it with a stronger crankshaft. That new crank has reduced the length of the pistons’ stroke, reducing the swept capacity to 2.9 litres.

Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Price: TBC
Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged, petrol hybrid
Power: 469bhp (est)
Torque: 500lb ft (est)
Gearbox: 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight: 2400kg (est)
Top speed: 157mph (est)
0-62mph: 5.3sec (est)
Economy: TBC
CO2: TBC

Why did the Panamera need a stronger crank, but not the Cayenne? Most likely because there’s going to be a more powerful Panamera hybrid coming down the pipeline, mirroring the hotter 440bhp Panamera S.

The Cayenne isn’t lined up for extra power, or at least not yet anyway, so it doesn’t need the smaller, stronger engine. With 335bhp plus another 134bhp from the electric motor, there’s no obvious need for more Cayenne grunt until you realise that the hybrid system in the Panamera adds 320kg to the kerb weight. There are no official equivalent figures for the Cayenne’s hybrid hardware, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect it to be not far off the Panamera’s.

One more key difference between the Pana and Cayenne hybrids is in the area of transmission. Every Panamera has the Porsche PDK dual-clutch gearbox, while all Cayennes get regular ZF eight-speed automatics. A smaller difference exists between the two on their electric-alone ranges: it’s about 25 miles for the Cayenne versus around 30 for the less weighty and more aerodynamically efficient Panamera. Top speed in this mode is 84mph in the SUV as against 87mph in the Panamera.

We didn’t do measured performance testing on the South African launch, but given that the new Cayenne Hybrid has considerably more power and torque than the old one, we’d guess just over five seconds for the new car’s 0-62mph time and a top speed of just under 160mph. Plenty fast enough, most would say.

Probably as a result of lower performance expectations from an SUV, the Cayenne’s extra weight isn’t that noticeable on the road. What is noticeable however is the ZF-gearboxed Cayenne’s additional smoothness. You occasionally notice the overlap between petrol and electrical power in the PDK-boxed Panamera, but you don’t in the Cayenne.

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It’s impressive. So much so in fact that the Cayenne actually manages to feel more cultured than the Panamera, which is quite an achievement given that the Panamera is the nearest thing to a Porsche limousine. The electric drive system will also bring real benefits to the relatively tiny number of owners who go off the beaten track, because of the ease with which it allows you to dish out precise amounts of power for precipitous rock-hopping. It just adds to the appeal of an already appealing vehicle.

In all honesty, if you wanted a good to drive and cheap to run Cayenne, you’d probably still plump for the now-extinct model powered by Porsche’s massive V8. In the absence of that, we’d happily accept the Hybrid as a credible and enjoyable option that delivers more than just tax breaks.

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