Review: Cayenne E-Hybrid is a gas-sipper that will electrify your soul

Larry Printz
Tribune News Service

Eugene, Ore. — Owning gas stations right now is a lot like being a blacksmith in 1890; there’s a change coming. We are all about to do the electric slide, with the internal combustion engine giving way to a technology discovered by Benjamin Franklin.

And in between advertisements, you make have noticed that Porsche’s new all-electric four-door sedan, the Taycan, is about to arrive in showrooms. Despite being an electric vehicle, the first two models will be known as the Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S — even though neither possesses a gasoline engine, never mind the need for a turbocharger.

The Cayenne E-Hybrid delivers remarkable acceleration in hybrid or EV modes.

I have no doubt that the Taycan will soon be the environmentally conscious electric vehicle to own among the wealthy 1%. It’s a remarkable vehicle — but it should be given its $150,900 base price.

If that’s too much, you can still buy an electrified Porsche for less, but you’ll have to add a little gasoline now and then. If that doesn’t bother you, then I heartily recommend the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, which starts at $82,450 — a 55% discount from the Taycan while still providing some green cred.

And since Porsche has been electrifying vehicles for a decade — it unveiled the first Cayenne Hybrid in 2010 — this is one gas-sipper that will truly electrify your soul. For the third generation Cayenne E-Hybrid, Porsche takes the Cayenne’s base 335-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and adds an improved 100 kW electric motor that moves this hybrid to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds through an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission.

And for 2020, it gets even better with the arrival of the Turbo S E-Hybrid with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 and 100 kW electric motor that produces 670 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque that reduces a 0-60 mph sprint to 3.6 seconds. Top speed is 183 mph, and all-wheel drive is standard. The EPA rates the Cayenne E-Hybrid at the equivalent of 46 mpg in hybrid mode, 22 mpg in gas-only mode, and 13 miles in EV-only mode, according to the EPA.

Of course, keep in mind that adding performance was Porsche’s top priority, not delivering unbeatable fuel economy. So it’s no surprise that the Sport Chrono Package is standard, and has four drive modes: E-Power, Hybrid Auto, Sport and Sport Plus.

The E-Hybrid always starts in E-Power mode and prioritizes electric driving. It even has an “E-Launch” function that allows you to press the brake and accelerator, accelerating in pure electric when the brake pedal is released. Meanwhile, Sport and Sport Plus modes prioritizes the battery’s power for a boost, while Hybrid Auto mode is best for most daily driving. Thoughtfully, it contains an E-Hold mode that keeps the battery charged for later pure electric driving. In E-Charge mode, the gasoline engine charges the battery.

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. (Porsche/TNS)

Driving the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid with its base powertrain reveals remarkable acceleration whether in hybrid or EV modes. Turning the drive mode to Sport or Sport Plus provides noticeably more aggressive response, with the Cayenne prioritizing performance over parsimony, with the exhaust note singing a song so sweet, you’ll roll down the windows as I did just to hear it. That said, if you just need a quick burst of power and you’re in Hybrid Auto mode, pressing the Sport Response Button in the middle of the mode switch temporarily adjusts all settings to their most aggressive for 20 second. Sweet!

Porsche’s Active Suspension Management is standard and does the same remarkable job it does in other Cayennes. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, which electronically adjusts the anti-roll bars to reduce lateral body movement in the corners, is optional, as are carbon ceramic brakes. Throw in rear axle steering, and you’ll find that the Cayenne E-Hybrid is a blast to drive on winding, two-lane roads. An air suspension is optional, and allows you to transform the Cayenne from a canyon carver to a cushy cruiser in seconds.

As for the interior, you’ll find it’s much the same as in other Cayennes. Its digital instrument cluster is anchored by a large tachometer, while the 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is easier to use than ever.

It makes for an intoxicatingly fun-to-drive electrified SUV, one that’s fun to drive despite its practical packaging.

After all, it’s a Porsche.