2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid First Drive

MAY 17 2018 BY SEYTH MIERSMA 15

The mid-tier Porsche Cayenne is now a plug-in hybrid… and it’s damn good.

– Montpellier, France

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the idea of a turbocharged gasoline-electric powertrain in a Porsche SUV would’ve seemed… exotic. Circa the 2019 model year, that formula represents one of the basic building blocks of the Porsche lineup.

Read Also – 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Arrives With More Electric Range

In Cayenne, of course, the German automaker has its biggest volume model, and a serious profit center. And now the Cayenne E-Hybrid represents an accessible trim level of the model range, but takes that role with such sophistication and confidence that you’ll have a hard time calling it “the practical one.”

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With the ability to drive in all-electric mode farther than ever, or to use its electric drive for on demand power, the E-Hybrid can be versatile, frugal, but also exceedingly rapid. This ain’t no Prius.

The advanced drivetrain starts with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 gas engine, producing 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, all on its own. That mill is paired with a centrally mounted electric motor that itself churns out 134 hp and 295 lb-ft, with maximum ratings for the full system output pegged at 455 hp and 516 lb-ft. The marriage of electrons and oil allow the SUV to pass 60 miles per hour in just 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of 157 mph.

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive

Battery capacity and performance has improved versus the outgoing Cayenne hybrid, as you’d expect. The 2019 version uses eight battery modules made from 13 cells apiece, with a total capacity of 14.1 kilowatt-hours and is rated at 382 volts. There’s a 3.6-kilowatt charger, or an optional 7.2-kW unit, with the former delivering a full charge in 4 hours at 32 amps, and the latter speeding that up to just 2.33 hours (charging with either on 10 amps takes 7.75 hours).

The headline stat from that bigger battery is an electric-only range of 27 miles (44 kilometers), when measured on the European cycle. Improved fuel economy is also expected, though we’re going to have to wait a bit in the U.S. for official EPA numbers (the Cayenne E-Hybrid won’t be on sale in the U.S. until next year).

That sounds like a lot of complexity under the skin, but the net net is a hard-charging (no pun intended) big Porsche, with exceptional driving dynamics relative to its size and class.

My drive route trailed the Mediterranean coast, starting from the French city of Montpellier. It transitioned between narrow roads and slow-moving diesel hatchbacks (or occasional tractors), offering ample opportunity to feel the full boost from the turbo and electric motor.

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive

Even when starting off in electric-only mode, the system understood from the throttle’s position when I was asking for all of the available thrust from engine and motor. I loved the sound of the exhaust from the V6 when I spurred it into quick action – and, of course, the sheer force of the forward acceleration when doing so – but was equally impressed by the imperceptible shift between driving modes. There’s no lurch, no hiccup when asking for the E-Hybrid to start drinking gasoline, and better, no protest at all from the eight-speed automatic transmission. Just quick downshifts, and the seamless flow of power to all four wheels.

If you were concerned about the bread-and-butter Cayenne also being somewhat polarizing because of its advanced powertrain, don’t be. You can drive this model anyway that pleases you, from hypermiling for EV range to maximum attack, and feel satisfied in all cases. And there are driving modes to suit each, from E-Power (all electric), to Hybrid Auto (max efficiency), to the self-explanatory Sport and Sport Plus. Porsche’s newest, most hilarious party trick is on offer here, too: the Sport Response button that gives you a 20-second window with all variable vehicle settings switched automatically to “pass-that-guy mode.” I love it.

The battery-laden Cayenne does carry a few more pounds than its ICE-only counterparts. The curb weight of 5,060 pounds is nearly 700-lbs heavier than the base Cayenne, or about 600 more than the similarly priced and powered Cayenne S. But handling, at least on curvy roads, doesn’t seem to suffer much. The E-Hybrid is really planted and happy on long sweepers, with agility enough to tackle aggressively twisted roads with grace, too. Both of the test vehicles I drove were equipped with the optional active air suspension, which did a phenomenal job of staying stiff in a hard corner, without punishing the driver when cruising on the highway.

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive

The electromechanical power steering with a 12.2:1 ratio (with the optional rear-axle steering) is more than fast enough to respond rapidly to inputs, but it’s still not my favorite Porsche tiller. Yes, it’s fitting that the SUV get slightly duller, more filtered steering than a Cayman, but I was left wanting just an iota more communication from the wheel.

Another complaint must be lodged against Porsche’s invocation of its lane-keep assist tech here, which felt more aggressive in correcting the steering wheel than I’d like, and was accompanied by a noise straight out of a 1980s arcade console (like a laser beam ripping through an enemy starfighter… but less cool and more annoying).

And, while I really love the look of the 12.3-inch, glossy infotainment screen (and its readiness for Apple CarPlay, if not Android Auto), and the use of the navigation system, finding the menu to turn off the bothersome advanced safety systems was a small chore. Of course, that’s a comment about the great feature-richness of the Porsche Advanced Cockpit system as much as it is a complaint.

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive
2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive

Porsche was crowing about other new Cayenne luxury features, like a full-color head-up display and massaging seats, but, sadly, neither were available on any of my test vehicles.

Generally speaking, however, this Cayenne has a lot more appeal to someone shopping for a quick luxury SUV than it might to “traditional” Porsche enthusiasts. The quiet cabin is plush without being overly designed. There’s great leather and quality touchpoints accenting a cabin that feels tech-y, but also less button-heavy, than the last-gen version of the vehicle. This is a modern, roomy space, with a big boot and just about every optional amenity imaginable. Well suited, in other words, for the needs of buyers in this $80,000 to six-figure price category.

Oh, and while its hybrid nature is mostly hidden within the same great, taught SUV lines of every other new Cayenne, it does have those rad acid-green brakes. Even your Tesla Model X-owning neighbors will eventually cotton on to the fact that you’re driving a battery-electric and a Porsche.

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: First Drive

With a plug-in powertrain, a sub-five-second sprint, and a price tag around eighty grand, this Cayenne doesn’t actually have much in the way of natural competitors. The Tesla Model X 75D is close in terms of price ($79,500) and performance, but obviously is all-electric and with far greater zero-emissions range than the Porsche. Mercedes-Benz does a GLE 550e that comes close on the specs, albeit a little bit slower to accelerate, and with a nearly $13,000 price advantage. And, while BMW makes an electrified X5 xDrive40e, that car’s 2.0-liter engine and $63,750 starting price put it into a different class. Perhaps most importantly, none of those new-fangled utility vehicles come with a Porsche crest on the hood – an item which carries a cachet that is still hard to replicate.

It used to be the middle of a model range was reserved for popular, but pretty average, versions of vehicles. With the wildly advanced, capable, and flexible Cayenne E-Hybrid, Porsche is proving that notion is about as old fashioned as the simple internal combustion engine.

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15 Comments on "2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid First Drive"

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27 miles electric?? This is what we’re supposed to buzz about?? In the middle of 2018?

When are manufacturers gonna get it- that folks just aren’t impressed with a ‘dash’ of EV anymore? Either go all-in at this point, or offer a vehicle than can legitimately get the typical driver through the day in electric only (no gasoline).

Until then, I’ll continue to steal my response from Trollanonymous: “Meh.”

My understanding is that the 20-something mile range is what qualities for the max EV credit in China. That is why all new PHEV models are carrying this range. Rest assured, the manufacturers “get it”, but in this case, “it” is money. At this point it is still about “playing the game” for the manufacturers and not about what the consumer really wants. I never thought I’d say this, but hopefully China will bump up their criteria so we all can get better all-electric range.

So, this is why Tesla sees massive demand.

You mean it’s not really about what YOU really want. If you want to know what “the consumer” wants, just look at how EV sales do in places where they’re unsubsidized.

I see new evs and phevs coming out as. old gas powered cars are going bye, bye. Which is what you might want to think about doing with your typical ice arguments.

12 discontinued gas cars, for 2018. (guess the subsidy was just too low).
https://www.boston.com/cars/car-guides/2018/04/18/discontinued-cars-for-the-2018-model-year

Then we need to lobby China to make it 40 miles of real EPA range.
Otherwise, these are jokes.

In the middle of 2018, 98% of the cars sold have an electric range of 0 miles.

Yeah, yet in the middle of 2018, a Tesla 100D can go 335 miles on electric only. What’s your point? 98% of the driving population is OK with paying $40-50 every time they fill up. So I should, too? By all means, let’s not look where the puck is going, let’s just stay in the now. That should get us… more of the same…

Yes, 27 miles in 2018, where 98% of people drive in cars with 0 electric miles. Whats your point?

These comments are getting really tiring. Every PHEV is supposed to have a 100-mile range? People who don’t drive very much regularly but don’t want range anxiety on road trips are supposed to pay for large batteries that they rarely utilise fully? Should I buy a pickup truck because I need it once a year?

27-mile PHEV targets a different crowd than a 40-mile one. And they are both perfectly OK. And you already know this perfectly well.

” Should I buy a pickup truck because I need it once a year?”
I thought you were American…if you were you would know the answer to that question.

That heavy V6 and steel body is killing range.
Don’t they have a turbo 4 cylinder they could offer, and a larger electric motor?

Eheew ugly interior

Sounds like an article from Motor1. I don’t like it. I mean we’re on an EV blog and he is writing about the f***in sound of a V6. Come on who cares. It’s not really a practical vehicle. It’s not even supposed to be green. It’s just supposed to be more powerful and for convenience it adds the electric motor to get future proof emission ratings and good fuel consumption. It’s just green washing at the highest level.

Why are they calling it a eHybrid for a Plugin model.
Are they following Fiat which named Plugin version of Pacifica as Hybrid.

Meanwhile Fiat Chrysler is adding another confusion by calling Jeep Wrange with just a Start-Stop system as Hybrid.

There are 2 types of Hybrid vehicles.
Mild Hybrid: Motor provides only supplemental power to engine.
Full Hybrid: Motor powers engine at low speeds up to 30 MPH.

And a vehicle with Start-Stop system is below the Mild hybrid and is never classified as a hybrid. If they do so, then many models like RAM Pickup, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Cruze should also be classified as a hybrid.

Of late Subaru is joining the party by calling their upcoming Crosstrek Plugin as a Hybrid. All these are aggressive plans of automakers to confuse and destroy the plugin vehicles. But these plans won’t fly in China.