If you are a Porsche purist and believe the Cayenne SUV is an anathema, destruction of the Porsche brand heritage, we are on your side. But you and I are ignorant and patently wrong. In the 1950s Porsche entered the tractor manufacturing industry for various socio-economic reasons. History lesson over, fast forward to the 2022 spec Porsche Cayenne. We’ll also skip the first and second and generation models. And here we are, our first-ever Cayenne review. I wasn’t a big fan of the first or second gen in terms of appearance. However, the third generation is now the most cultured-looking Cayenne of them all and that’s very important for my empty-headed vanity.
When the Cayenne first launched in 2002 many thought Porsche had lost the plot. Today it is consistently the best-selling Porsche… every damn year. The 911 that continues to define the company’s heritage to this day is a distant 4th in the annual sales tally, even being surpassed by the Taycan. But we’re not sales-people here at DCB, just mere car reviewers.
Prices for the entry-level Porsche Cayenne start at a fairly reasonable £63K and rise to over £131K for high-performance models, which totals nine across SUV the model series. The engine range comprises of a 3.0-liter 340hp turbocharged V6 which is available in a number of different power configurations depending on model spec. Also available is a V8 Twin-Turbo, reserved for the high-performance models.
The interior is first class, the seats are not as comfortable as a Range Rover, but more than comparable over long journeys. The interior build quality is on the next level and the choice of materials reveals a premium luxury experience. The interior design is modern and clean, futuristic, and dominated by touch controls. The large infotainment system is complemented by a large graphically configurable digital driver’s binnacle, except for the central dial which remains analog. The infotainment system is graphically pleasing, relatively easy to use, and very responsive with all the features you could ever want. Included are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard.
Whether a car interior has physical buttons or not, it doesn’t bother me. I prefer the touch control surface because it looks so futuristic yet contemporary. However, a few knurled metal dials and knobs are retained. In terms of passenger compliance, there is plenty of room in the front, rear and the boot space is more than accommodating, seats up or folded flat. The Cayenne is a big SUV.
The Porsche Cayenne Plug-in e-Hybrid is powered by a 340hp V6-twin turbo and a 100kW, 136hp electric motor which is housed in the gearbox. Combined this yields a total system power of 462hp and 700Nm of torque. The 17.9kWh battery pack is tucked away underneath the boot, where the spare wheel is located and provides a claimed range of 35 miles in pure electric drive. The Cayenne has a dry weight of 2,370kg, just a little heavier than the all-electric Taycan.
When driving the Cayenne you immediately notice the meaty steering feel, like it has no power steering, despite being electric. After a while you get used to the feel, however, I would prefer the steering feel to be lighter for an SUV of this size. At low speed, you will feel the rear-axle steering come into play. Indeed it initially feels as though the rear end is rotating, drifting into oversteer. Of course, it isn’t but once you become attuned to the feel, low-speed maneuverability is significantly improved.
The Cayenne comes equipped with driving modes, Normal, SPORT, SPORT+, Individual, WET and AWD. Being a plug-in hybrid you get additional modes, e-Power (full electric) and Hybrid Auto. Pretty self-explanatory. You also get off-road modes, but in all honesty, I didn’t even use the latter during my time with the Cayenne. I preferred to leave it in Auto Hybrid mode for the majority of time spent driving and let the computer do the work so I didn’t have to.
When driving in town or a country B-road I often switched to sports mode, to take advantage of the shorter downshifts. However, the Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid isn’t a full-blooded sports SUV. The electric motor and 8-speed transmission can feel a little disconnected specifically from a standing start or on kick-down. For example, When you floor the throttle there is a 1-second delay before the power rushes in. So I changed my approach, I decided to apply the throttle smoothly which counteracted the kickback and was a slightly faster way to access the prodigious amounts of power.
The advantage of a plug-in hybrid is that you have an electrical store of power that enables a 35-mile range, according to Porsche stats. Depending on driving style and topography it’s around 22-25 miles, less so if you are over enthusiastic with the throttle. In pure electric drive, the acceleration is superior to the V6 engine because you get instant torque.
Brake regeneration will allow you to build up a cache of electric power when crawling through a traffic jam. The system seamlessly switches from combustion engine power to pure electric drive. And when the electric range is depleted you can command the computer to enable the engine to act as a generator, while stationary or on the move. It uses a little bit more fuel, but after an hour of driving, about 60 miles, I regenerated 15 miles of electric range.
Another option is to plug it into a charger, doing so takes about 4 hours. The Cayenne charges up to speeds of 3.6kW, spend £500 extra, and the charging speed increases to 7.2kW, shaving 50-percent off the recharge time. A fully charged Cayenne will average a healthy hybrid range of 42 mpg. Expect the range to drop to 27mpg if you are too impatient to use a charger and rely solely on brake regen and the onboard charger.
What impressed me most was the Porsche Active Suspension Management. It made a significant difference to the ride and handling. With the PASM off the Cayenne feels composed enough, however when you brake you will feel the Cayenne rock forward and gently back due to the transfer of weight. Switch the PASM on and the Cayenne suddenly feels like a sports coupe while retaining a compliant and comfortable ride. The gentile brake-lurching is vanquished. It’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish with a passive car, even more difficult with an active computer ride.
For me the suspension setup is the most impressive aspect of the Cayenne, I would option it over any other piece of equipment. Maybe the heated seats come first. Nevertheless, the standard equipment is exhaustive, with a full suite of modern driver safety aids and features. This test vehicle came with over £18K worth of options which included the Adaptive air suspension with a leveling system and height adjustment. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is priced as a £1,550 option.
As much as I admired the Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid, as with any Plug-in Hybrid from other brands, do they make any sense over self-charging hybrids? If the electric range was better, then it would make more sense, but at that point, you effectively have a cyborg hybrid vehicle. In that case, you may as well go full Android, ergo fully electric. The problem all hybrids face is convergence. The gap between electric car range vs combustion cars will narrow, sooner rather than later. So at which point do you make the switch?
Nevertheless, I really liked the Porsche Cayenne e-Hybrid, the underlying engineering is fascinating and expertly executed by Porsche. However, the Cayenne e-Hybrid wouldn’t be my choice, I would go for a standard Cayenne. That being said you will not be making a mistake whichever Cayenne you go for.