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2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid Review 

Every time I get behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne I’m struck by the fact that I’m driving a sport utility vehicle, not a high-performance sports car that the German automaker is known for.

  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid engine
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid main1
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid logo
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid engine
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid charging port
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid backseat
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid interior
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid centre stack
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid gauges
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid panoramic sunroof
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid cargo
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid rear

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: A plug-in hybrid with the soul of a sports car.
    • What’s Worst: Priced over $100k
    • What’s Interesting: The E-Hybrid serves to showcase the best of Porsche’s hybrid technology.

 

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid at a glance

BODY STYLE: Five-passenger premium mid-size crossover SUV.

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel drive.

ENGINE: Supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine with an electric motor (combined 416 hp and 435 lb/ft of torque) and a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 10.8 kWh.

CARGO VOLUME: 580 litres with rear seats upright, 1,690 litres with seats folded.

FUEL ECONOMY: 11.3/9.8/10.6 L/100 km city/highway/combined in gasoline mode and 5/5/5.0 Le/100 km in electric mode.

PRICE: $87,700, as tested $104,690.

Every time I get behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne I’m struck by the fact that I’m driving a sport utility vehicle, not a high-performance sports car that the German automaker is known for.

And while it is such a departure from the norm for Porsche, the Cayenne has become its global best seller, now accounting for about a third of all sales.

A good chunk of those sales are due to the popularity of the Cayenne, which offers a different model for almost every month of the year.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but there were seven different versions of the popular crossover SUV available in Canada for 2016 model year and as tested here is the Cayenne S E-Hybrid, a plug-in gas/electric hybrid vehicle.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid main

Some people consider the Cayenne the best crossover on the market and it’s hard to argue otherwise when you consider the variety of engines and features available to consumers.

That in a nutshell helps to explain how a sports car manufacturer has been able to become a leader in the luxury crossover SUV segment.

RELATED: The 2015 Porsche Cayenne S and an Adventure in Whistler

Who would expect to see a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) in the Porsche stable with its high-powered lineup of the sports cars?

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid logo

Not many people would, but interestingly, Porsche is a leader of the plug-in revolution with not just one, but three PHEVs in its fleet. The 2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid is the first PHEV in the premium SUV segment.

It’s been said that Porsche builds sportiness into all its vehicles, whether it’s a sports car or SUV, and after driving the 2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, it is every bit as sporty as the other Cayenne models, but without the raw power that some have at the touch of the throttle.

The power here comes from a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 engine running in concert with an electric motor, combining to produce 416 hp and 435 lb/ft of torque.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid engine

Energy is stored in a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 10.8 kWh.

This plug-in model replaces the outgoing Cayenne S Hybrid and comes with a more powerful electric motor, producing 97 hp, up from 45.

When you hear the word hybrid, your first thoughts might be slow and plodding, but that’s far from the case here. The Cayenne S E-Hybrid does the 0-100 km/h sprint in a sports car-like time of 5.9 seconds, according to the manufacturer. In recent AJAC Car of the Year testing, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid was a touch slower, clocking in at 6.0 seconds for 0-100 km/h and 3.9 seconds 80-120 km/h. Not too shabby when you consider we’re talking about a 2,350 kg vehicle.

Braking distance from 100 km/h to 0 is 44.2 metres as regenerative braking kicks in to help replenish the battery.

Fuel economy is rated at 11.3/9.8/10.6 L/100 km city/highway/combined in gasoline mode and 5/5/5.0 Le/100 km in electric mode.

At full charge, the vehicle will run in pure electric mode for up to 22 km. To reach full charge using a standard charger takes three to four hours but that can be halved with a 7.2-kilowatt charger.

RELATED: 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Review

All models come with an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. In this system, power is transferred to the rear wheels and then routed to the front wheels as needed.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid backseat

In the past, Porsche interiors were never in Audi or Volvo’s class, but times are changing and the gap is narrowing, particularly in the Cayenne. This is an attractive, luxurious cabin with lots of soft-touch materials.

The comfortable front bucket seats are heated and feature eight-way power adjustment and the tilt/telescoping steering wheel is also heated.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid interior

If you’ve ever taken a glance at a pilot in the cockpit of an airliner as you board, you’ll get almost the same feeling in the driver’s seat of a Cayenne. The centre stack and console is awash in buttons, switches and the like with settings for almost everything.

However, with this hybrid Cayenne, a pilot’s licence is not required for takeoff, simply press the start button and E-mode automatically kicks in so everything remains eerily quiet.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid gauges

Instead of the traditional speedometer, the E-Hybrid gets a power meter in the gauge cluster in front of the driver, showing how much power is being used.

Luggage capacity with the rear seats upright is listed at 580 litres and with the battery pack under the rear cargo area, there is no spare tire. Towing capacity of the Cayenne S E-Hybrid is 3,500 kg.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid cargo

Priced from $87,700, the Cayenne S E-Hybrid driven here was with loaded with options, taking the as-tested price to $104,690.

Porsche has no illusions that this model will be a huge seller.

It’s a niche product and an expensive one at that, but an important one in the industry to show what a high-performance hybrid can offer.

It might be just the start of big things to come from small beginnings.

2016 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid rear

RELATED: 2016 Porsche Cayenne GTS SUV Review

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