Diesel? We don't need no stinkin’ diesel! This is petrol-elec­tric per­fec­tion

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - DANIEL GARD­NER

PRE­VI­OUS Wheels en­coun­ters with Porsche’s third-gen­er­a­tion Cayenne have left pre­dom­i­nantly pos­i­tive im­pres­sions. The sweet-spot S is a re­sound­ing high-achiever defying seg­ment norms, the en­try-level vari­ant is some­what of a bar­gain by Porsche stan­dards, and the Turbo will blud­geon a chuckle out of even the most cold­hearted cynic.

But there’s a glar­ing gap in the

cur­rent range. There will be no suc­ces­sor to the sec­ond-gen diesel Cayenne – but cus­tomers might not lament the pass­ing of com­pres­sion ig­ni­tion for long. Not only does the new Cayenne E-hy­brid exceed the diesel’s power, torque and ef­fi­ciency on pa­per, its claimed per­for­mance trans­lates into the real world, too. Even bet­ter, ac­tu­ally.

The plug-in model ar­rives with all the qual­i­ties we ap­prove of in its purely petrol-quaffing sib­lings. It’s al­most as pretty as its Macan lit­tle sis­ter, the chas­sis is taut but sup­ple, and the in­te­rior de­liv­ers a tech-heavy dose of Porsche qual­ity.

But the seam­less in­te­gra­tion of its driv­e­train is the stand­out. Plug its charg­ing ca­ble in at home and the E-hy­brid’s 14.1kwh bat­tery will be fully juiced in about seven hours. Get a sparky to fit a 16-amp out­let and that falls by half (there’s no faster charg­ing wall box op­tion for now). That’s enough to complete my 38km com­mut­ing roundtrip with­out prod­ding the tur­bocharged V6 into life at all.

Drain the bat­tery or ro­tate the Sport Chrono drive mode dial from de­fault E Power to Hy­brid and the clever elec­tron­ics will make the most ef­fi­cient use of both. Com­bined power is spook­ily smooth, but more ag­gres­sive re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing and so-called one-pedal driv­ing would per­haps make the bat­tery last even longer. Sport and Sport Plus are there for max­i­mum elec­tri­cal per­for­mance en­hance­ment blended with tra­di­tional wan­ton petrol con­sump­tion.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion to 100km/h feels faster than the quoted 5.0sec thanks to the in­stant elec­tri­cal as­sis­tance off the line, and al­though you can def­i­nitely feel the ex­tra 300kg (ouch) com­pared to the stan­dard va­ri­ety, the hy­brid has some se­ri­ous green mumbo.

You’ll pay a premium for it, though. Com­pared with the base Cayenne, the E-hy­brid is about $20,000 more ex­pen­sive and $27,500 up on the gen-two diesel, but simple con­sump­tion­based maths may help sweeten the equa­tion just a lit­tle.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the cost of elec­tric­ity to run an EV is ap­prox­i­mately half the equiv­a­lent cost in petrol. If, like me, you live about 20km from work (or 40km and you have a socket in the car park), you too can kick the petrol habit dur­ing the work­ing week – po­ten­tially slash­ing your petrol bill in half.

Achieving the same in a com­pact Ja­panese hatch­back would be just as ef­fec­tive if a lit­tle less sur­pris­ing, but a 2.3-tonne large SUV with po­tent per­for­mance and the badge to match? That’s the kind of fu­ture we could all get used to.

Model Porsche Cayenne E-hy­brid En­gine 2995cc V6, dohc, 24v, turbo + elec­tric mo­tor Max power 340kw @ 5250-6400rpm Max torque 700Nm @ 1000-3750rpm Trans­mis­sion 8-speed au­to­matic Weight 2295kg 0-100km/h 5.0sec (claimed) Fuel econ­omy 3.4L/100km Price $136,700 On sale Now

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