2017 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Test: Platinum Additions

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Source: Car and Driver
Full Article: 2017 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Test: Platinum Additions

The 2017 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Platinum Edition plug-in hybrid thumped up onto Car and Driver’s California scales and punished them to the tune of 5373 pounds. That’s 54 pounds less than we recorded for the slightly less lavish non–Platinum Edition version during testing in Michigan. Hey, California gravity is groovier than Michigan gravity. Or maybe it was the $10,000 in extra options on the Michigan car that added mass.

Regardless, this Cayenne is the second-heaviest Porsche that C/D has ever tested, totaling 973 pounds more than the combined mass of a 1963 356B 1600 and a 1965 911. At that, it is 204 pounds lighter than a 2015 Ford F-150 4×4 that wore a Platinum badge. So it has that going for it.

The Cayenne E-Hybrid’s monstrous mass means that a recognizably Porsche-like driving experience doesn’t come naturally. It needs to be cajoled and (sometimes) tricked to deliver the feedback, adhesion, connection, and sense of satisfaction that should always come with Porsches. Okay, now throw the plug-in-hybrid system into the mix.

Is That a Frog Stuck in Your Wheel?

It’s the Acid Green brake calipers that announce to bystanders that this $86,995 Cayenne is much more environmentally righteous than Porsche’s other large, fuel-slurping SUVs. It’s not a brash announcement as virtue signaling goes, but the bright-green color contrasts vividly with the rest of the machine’s more subdued hues. There’s also a green shadow behind the lettering on the E-Hybrid’s badges that adds another halo of good intentions to the appearance.

Beyond those greenie cues, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid easily could be mistaken for any other Cayenne in line at Southern California’s Calabasas Elementary School waiting to pick up a next-generation Kardashian. In the right prosperous crowd, this thing blends in.

The electrical substance of the E-Hybrid system is conceptually a carryover from the now superseded Panamera E-Hybrid, including its Audi-sourced 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. It’s an evolutionary half-leap forward from the first Cayenne hybrid system as well. The electric motor/generator produces 95 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque (41 horses and 66 lb-ft less than the motor in the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid). It’s fed by a 10.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, mounted under the cargo floor, that can be replenished from an optional onboard 7.2-kW charger using a standard SAE J1772 connector or from Porsche’s own charging system that mounts on an owner’s garage wall (it’s also J1772).

Combine the internal-combustion engine’s output with the electric motor’s and the total available thrust is 416 horsepower at 5500 rpm with 425 lb-ft of torque on call from 1250 rpm. It all goes into an eight-speed automatic transmission and out through both axles to four 295/35R-21 Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tires. And it works.

With both the engine and the electric motor contributing, this is a truly quick SUV. It whizzes, whirrs, and wallops its way to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, hits 100 mph in 13 seconds flat, and slaps down the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 103 mph. That’s bullet-train acceleration for something that weighs in like a private rail car.

But when the battery’s charge drops to the point where the Cayenne must operate in hybrid mode, the performance slags off. In these situations, it needs 6.8 seconds to achieve 60 mph and getting to 100 mph takes 17.7. The sensation from the driver’s seat is like the difference between riding a thoroughbred and plowing a field with an old nag. That’s more illusion than reality. After all, 6.8 seconds to 60 mph may not be superquick, but it’s not incredibly slow, either.

Battery Bebop

Among the E-Hybrid’s many driving modes, the most interesting is the E-Power setting, which allows the vehicle to run solely on the electric motor at up to 78 mph. That’s 95 horsepower struggling against more than 2.5 tons. Speed isn’t this mode’s modus operandi. The logistics of juggling charge levels while transporting the vehicle to C/D’s test location made gathering meaningful acceleration data in E-Power mode impossible. Porsche claims that the Cayenne E-Hybrid will reach 60 mph in 8.9 seconds running on electricity alone. If true, that’s two-tenths behind a four-cylinder Ford Fiesta equipped with an automatic transmission.

Remember, however, that the ’63 Porsche 356B needed 12.8 seconds to reach 60 mph. So, perspective.

Porsche says that, depending on conditions, the E-Hybrid will scoot around fully electrically for up to 14 miles. That’s perfect for commuters who need to travel only a few miles to work with chargers at both ends of the trip. Tenderfoot driving around Santa Barbara, California, during a few days when it wasn’t raining this winter, we saw our longest all-electric trip drain the batteries after 14.2 miles. That range was closer to 10 miles when we drove more aggressively.

Mostly, It’s a Porsche

What’s most satisfying about the E-Hybrid is its consistency of character regardless of driving mode. Mechanically, the Cayenne has nothing in common with the aforementioned classic Porsches, but there’s a soul connection among them. The steering doesn’t have the immediacy of a sports car, but it’s nicely weighted and fully communicates what’s going on with the chassis. The tires bite into corners with eagerness, it would take a head-butt from a battleship to knock the tail out of line, and, despite whatever seductive dance was going on with the powertrain elements, there always seems to be plenty of power on hand to do something epic. The unsung hero here may be the eight-speed automatic doing the shifting; its behavior is always exemplary whether shifted manually or left to its own logic.

The one significant difference between this Cayenne and the others is brake feel. The regenerative effect can be felt through the pedal and in how the SUV slows entering a corner. It’s something that the driver quickly acclimates to and, in some ways, makes the behemoth easier to manage.

Roadholding tops out at 0.91 g on the skidpad with only a hint of understeer. There’s a lot of mass here, but Porsche has distributed it well—51.0 percent on the nose and 49.0 percent on the tail. That dense battery in back helps the vehicle’s weight balance.

Like other Cayennes, the E-Hybrid’s interior is five-passenger cozy rather than extravagant or expansive. The number of buttons on the dash and center console seems to be coming down, and the interior material quality seems to be going up, to the point that the leather stitching is right up there with Hermès Cavale jumping saddles.

The EPA rates the Cayenne S E-Hybrid at 46 MPGe in combined driving while depleting the battery charge and using the electric motor. As a more conventional hybrid, the Porsche is rated at 22 mpg combined. That won’t rattle the worldview of many Tesla owners, but it’s substantially better than other Cayenne models.

The Platinum Edition has some distinct visual touches and gathers together many items that would otherwise be desirable on their own. There are wheel-arch extensions, the headlamps are bixenon units, and the Bose sound system is powerful. Also thrown in are fantastically comfortable heated seats, special wheels, and doorsill guards with illuminated Cayenne S logos. The prices of Porsche options are legendarily lofty, and the bundle of them that comes with the Platinum Edition seems a bargain at only $2900 more than the regular E-Hybrid. It’s all stuff most buyers are likely to want anyhow. As we noted earlier, the non-Platinum model we tested two years ago wore an as-tested price $10,000 higher thanks to a far more liberal approach to the options.

At this point the Cayenne is entrenched in the Porsche lineup, and the debate about its standing as a true Porsche is wholly academic. This is the machine that makes Porsche profitable. This is what a modern Porsche looks like and is. The E-Hybrid stands as a reflection of Porsche’s past stretching to Herr Doktor’s 1899 Lohner-Porsche hybrid and as a direct connection to modern Porsche hybrids like the road-bound 918 supercar and the 919 endurance racer. That something this electronically intensive, so heavy, and so not a sports car still feels like a Porsche is astonishing.

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