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2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid Review

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Not only has Porsche overhauled their highly-popular Cayenne SUV for 2011, they developed a full-hybrid version that can quite effectively operate on electricity alone, within set parameters. And because it’s a Porsche wearing an ‘S’ badge, the Cayenne Hybrid delivers un-hybrid-like performance.

The 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid is a pretty cool Porsche that introduces a legitimate, viable eco-alternative to the conventional Cayenne lineup. (Photo: Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com)

Why a hybrid Porsche, anyway?
The Cayenne isn’t renowned for its ability to stretch a litre of expensive fuel. In fact, nothing in the entire Porsche fleet is particularly adept at doing so, despite their adroitness in other measures of performance.

In order to improve the overall average fuel economy of Porsche vehicles, the company must find a way to introduce greater fuel efficiency into their line-up of exotics; adding hybrid versions of their most popular models is an effective way of elevating the overall results.

Besides, in these days of eco-consciousness, owning a hybrid SUV is easier to justify to oneself—and others—than a conventional SUV, and it may actually carry greater panache. The trick for Porsche was to develop a hybrid, which successfully retains the expected performance thresholds of a Porsche, while also improving its economy.

Has Porsche pulled it off?
The clear answer is “sort of”. The Cayenne S Hybrid utilizes a full parallel hybrid setup, which means that it can run exclusively on electricity or on a combination of gas and electricity, or simply on gas. In fact, a small console-mounted button labeled E-Power allows the driver to opt exclusively for electrical propulsion within a defined limit of 60 km/h and a maximum distance, based on the battery’s charge, of 2.5 kilometres.

When the engine isn’t needed, such as when stationary or coasting, it will automatically switch off. A clutch between the engine and the 47-horsepower “electric machine” (Porsche talk for electric motor) eliminates the drag of a lifeless engine from the propulsion system when operating exclusively on electricity.

Dipping into the throttle instantly re-fires the supercharged 3.0-litre, 333-horsepower V6 engine in a near seamless process. When the wheels aren’t consuming electrical power, they act as generators returning juice to the high-voltage, nickel-metal hydride battery.

Dipping into the throttle instantly re-fires the supercharged 3.0-litre, 333-horsepower V6 engine in a near seamless process. (Photo: Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com)