Porsche’s big push toward electrification doesn’t just mean more, better EVs. It also means an increasing focus on increasing the appeal of hybrids. While Porsche has been plying the wonders of plug-in electrification into its cars for a decade now, a new generation
of E-Hybrids are starting to show the true potential of augmented electrification.
The Cayenne S E-Hybrid and Cayenne Turbo E-Hybrid are the latest. While bigger, 25.9-kilowatt-hour batteries offer the usual range increase over the outgoing plug-ins, overall improvements in the general hybrid system mean more regeneration, improved braking, and a better overall driving experience. All those things conspire to make these new Cayennes not only more frugal but smoother, comfier, and faster.
That 25.9 kWh battery is way up in capacity from the 17.9 kWh offered by the outgoing Cayenne E-Hybrids. It comes with faster charging, too, at 11 kW. Power from that pack power spins a new electric motor setup wedged in between the engine and the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission.
Go for the Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and that source of internal combustion is Porsche’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which makes 348 horsepower and 368 pound-feet torque. Step up to the Cayenne Turbo E-Hybrid, and you instead get the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, with 591 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. While that electric motor is rated for 174 horsepower, it’s not quite a straight addition, with total system power at 512 for the S and 729 for the Turbo.
Now, 174 horsepower may not sound like a lot, but the electric motor also delivers 339 pound-feet of torque. Since it’s mated to the transmission, that motor has access to all the Cayenne’s gears, and it can drive the car up to 84 mph on its own without needing to spin up the engine for help. The maximum range is estimated at 90 kilometers on the European test cycle. That’s roughly 56 miles, but we’ll have to wait and see where the official North American numbers fall.
Equally importantly, that motor can now provide up to 88 kilowatts of braking performance. That’s 30 percent up over the old Cayenne E-Hybrid and means not only that the SUV can stop harder and more often without taxing the standard steel or optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, but it’s far more efficient at regeneration, too. Juice it up at home, and that new onboard charger will bring it from empty to full in roughly 2.5 hours. The standard, two-valve air suspension and the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) rear differential bolster on-track performance, especially paired with Rear-Axle Steering.
And, of course, all that is on top of the other advantages brought to the table in the new Cayenne, including the new Taycan-inspired interior with the latest Porsche Communication Management (PCM), offering wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus refreshed styling.
For all its changes, the interior of the 2024 Cayenne still has plenty of familiarity about it. You ease yourself up into the same elevated seating position, the same tunnel-mounted grab rails, making ingress that little bit easier. On the go, they provide a pleasingly rigid place to rest your hand, doubly so if you’re riding shotgun and the driver is feeling frisky.
The ignition is still found on the left, now a button rather than the embedded key of before. Stab that button in the E-Hybrid and not a lot happens. The newly curved, Taycan-inspired gauge cluster comes to life, as does the 12.3-inch PCM display in the middle, which has aggregated many of the controls that were formerly scattered across buttons on the transmission tunnel.
But there’s no sound of internal combustion. You’ll need to ask a lot more of the Cayenne before it taps into those reserves. And, when it does, the transition between EV and hybrid is so subtle you may never notice. In fact, I needed to toggle the gauge cluster over to the classic, central tachometer view to tell when the 4.0-liter V8 had been called into duty during the first few hours of my drive in the Turbo E-Hybrid Coupe. When inching through morning traffic in Barcelona, even making my way onto the highway, the hybrid system was so untaxed that the electric motor handled everything.
That motor is sufficient up past 80 mph, its 339 pound-feet of torque making the Cayenne feel surprisingly responsive. It was only at higher speeds on the highway, accelerating to make a pass, that I first summoned the might of that V8 and both of its turbos. And, when I did, it was only the inching up of that virtual tachometer needle that told me internal combustion was happening. There was no shake in the cabin, hardly any sound to be heard. It’s among the smoothest of hybrid hand-offs I’ve ever experienced. That’s impressive, given the sheer amount of rotating mass involved here.
The eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic is likewise slippery, the car floating between cogs without fuss. Later, when I got away from traffic and highways and enjoyed some twistier roads, it was easier to provoke a bit of a lurch by mashing the throttle in Hybrid Auto mode. When driven clumsily like this, the E-Hybrid’s electric motor does its thing and runs out of steam before the V8 can come up to pick up its piece of the harmony. But, really, that was me provoking the system. Cruising along in Hybrid Auto mode, you’ll hardly ever notice the transition. Or, when you’re driving aggressively, keep it in Sport or Sport Plus and all you’ll notice is epic amounts of thrust at any speed.
On the road, the power is plenty, even in the less powerful Cayenne S E-Hybrid. Its throttle response is sharp, and the outright output of the combined system is enough to make your passenger reach for the aforementioned grip handle early and often. But, for those who need to inflict a little more excitement, there’s the Turbo.
I was able to sample the standard Turbo E-Hybrid on both road and track, the latter being the surprisingly charming but largely unknown place called Parcmotor Castelloni, situated in the mountains north of Barcelona. Its series of fast sections and tight corners proved an excellent playground for the new Cayenne and its new powerplants.
Again, the electric motor provided the initial shove out of the tighter turns, the V8 seamlessly picking up any slack as the speed increased. Then, in the braking zone, the 10-piston front calipers squeezing 420 mm (16.5 in.) rotors got the Turbo E-Hybrid down to speed and me right back on the apex. All too easy.
Helping that cornering was the combination of Rear-Axle Steering on the way in and the PTV+ active rear differential on the way out. Though the Cayenne E-Hybrid battery pack alone adds some 350 pounds of weight, you don’t feel the extra heft. The 22-inch Pirelli P-Zero tires (285/40R-22 front, 315/35R-22 rear) likewise seemed unphased. Despite their grip, the body roll is admirably limited on the car, the adaptive suspension likewise ensuring sharp reactions to any steering input but also keeping the body calm on those times when I dove in and took a little too much curb.
That suspension just gets more impressive out in the real world. We’ve all become used to the wonders of adaptive damping, but the two-valve units employed here expand the magical horizon. On the track, the Cayenne is delightfully precise. On the road, it’s calm and quiet and smooth.
The new E-Hybrids’ more advanced hybrid system also opens the door to much more aggressive brake regeneration, which can not only hoover far more momentum from the car and pack that energy back into the batteries but can also work at speeds down to a near-standstill. (The old E-Performance hybrid had to call in the physical brakes at eight mph.)
That’s paired with an upgraded brake booster, while a likewise updated braking logic system ties it all together. This tripped me up for a time thanks to the system’s changing the brake behavior as you toggle from the comfort-oriented modes to either of the Sport modes. On the track, all I noticed was clean, precise stopping. Out on the road, however, I found myself having to stab at the brake harder than anticipated a few times in Hybrid Auto mode or lurching to a too-abrupt stop in Sport. Once I figured out what was going on, though, I learned to recalibrate my handling of the left pedal the same way I recalibrate my right-pedal dealings when shifting from one mode to another. That was the end of that.
At the end of a long, aggressive day of driving, it was time to deal with the Barcelona traffic again, and that provided another reminder of how good a cruiser the Cayenne is. The optional Burmester 3D sound system drowned out the sound of the incessant honking outside, the powerful ventilated seats ensured that everything stayed nice and cool, and even the new automatic particulate filter worked a charm.
At one point, I was following a tired Opel van spewing a noxious cloud of black dust into the air and realized that I couldn’t smell anything. I looked down to verify that the HVAC system was on recirculate and found that it was not. The carbon air filtration system had automatically turned itself on. I couldn’t smell anything beyond the finely crafted leather upholstery.
You can’t say that the updated hybrid system in the new E-Performance models fixes any fundamental flaws in the recently refreshed Cayenne. That, though, is only because there really weren’t any flaws to address. Instead, the updated electronics, ultra-smooth drivetrain, and other accompanying systems all work together to attenuate further this SUV’s already stellar assets. It’s now even more calm and quiet when you want to cruise and significantly more ballistic when you’re in a bit of a hurry.
For me, the Cayenne S E-Performance is the better choice, offering all the advancements and appeal of the updated electronics and plenty of power for any situation you’re going to encounter on the road. But then again, going with the Turbo is rarely the logical choice, and that’s never made it the wrong one.