Premium

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid review: loads more power but a little less poise for range-topping SUV

3
2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

It’s difficult not to wonder “Why?” as I consider the 680PS output of the car I’ve just climbed into. Essentially, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is a Cayenne Turbo with a plug, the addition of some batteries and an electric motor seeing the power rise from a not inconsiderable 542bhp to a preposterous 670bhp – along with 663lb ft of torque added to the mix.

All that, of course, means that it’s quicker, allowing you to pin your bewildered passengers into their seats as the Turbo S E-Hybrid races to 62mph in only 3.8 seconds, on the way to a maximum speed in excess of 180mph. If you’re in a mere Turbo you’ll be an embarrassing 0.3 seconds slower – although you’ll break 190mph.  

Pointless? Undoubtedly, but then there’s never been any point in trying to rationalise high-performance SUVs, and even less so if there’s a plug involved.  The new range-topping Cayenne shares its drivetrain with the Panamera; indeed, the combination of a 4.0-litre, V8 turbocharged petrol engine and a 136PS electric motor makes them the most powerful cars in Porsche’s line-up. There is also the ability, if you’re extremely gentle with it, to drive about 25 miles on electricity alone. 

Making sure it’s full before a drive will require a 2.4 hours via a 7.2kW connection, or six hours if you’re plugging it into a conventional domestic socket. Do so and the likely urban (and urbane) owners have the opportunity to silently sneak their mega-performance SUV around the best postcodes, all while salving their conscience that all is good with the ice caps.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid does 0-62mph in 3.8sec, thanks in part to the urge of an electric motor. The regular is 0.3sec slower to 62mph, although it has a higher top speed

More importantly, perhaps, it the fact that it will appease your accountant thanks to the official emissions figures. With Porsche quoting CO2 emissions of 85-90g/100km, this represents a bigger tax dodge than an offshore account.  

On a twisting country road the Turbo S E-Hybrid is ferociously quick and surprisingly capable. If Porsche is good (and by good we’re talking miracle working) at one thing it’s making everything feel a bit of a sports car in the way that it drives.

This car provides that feeling, too, only here there is a but; and it’s related to the car's mass, since all the extra hybrid stuff limits what Porsche's chassis engineers can do and tips the balance back in the favour of physics. The Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid weighs 2,490kg, even before you’ve added any people.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid is available as an even more expensive coupé (left) and a regular SUV

Inexplicably, its coupé (read sloping hatchback) relation adds another 45kg to that, which is a mystery. 

In either there’s the feeling you’re teetering on the edge of what’s possible – and that’s unusual in a Porsche. The turn-in feels a bit more reluctant, the sizeable tyres feeling like they’re working much harder to do what’s asked of them. Adding the optional rear-steering will help here (and it also reduces the turning circle, useful in urban use).

The standard fitment of Porsche’s clever roll stabilisation, dubbed Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), and Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB) speak volumes here. The roll stabilisation does its best to mask the weight through corners, while the 440mm diameter front PCCB discs are necessary because they’re grabbed by no fewer than 10 pistons.

As you'd expect, the interior is luxurious and beautifully finished

That, and they resist fade far more convincingly than conventional brakes. That’ll be handy for descending that mountain pass, or, as we experienced on an unrestricted stretch of German autobahn, scrubbing lots of speed when an errant driver wanders into the overtaking lane. 

At regular speeds, getting to and stopping from, everything is polished. The hybrid powertrain is neatly integrated, with none of the gearbox stuttering that blighted Porsche’s earlier attempts at hybridisation. It’s fast everywhere, too, though that’s true of its mere Turbo relation, the E-Hybrid adding fractionally to the low-speed urgency.

There’s obviously the ability to pick your driving mode, the hybrid system adding more choice, from the electric-only drive, up to 84mph, to E hold, which saves the battery to allow you to glide around using electricity alone at your destination.

Naturally, you'll want a sleek Porsche Design-styled charging point outside your house 

The interior is luxurious and beautifully finished. With a bit of practice, all those choices are relatively easy to access via Porsche’s sizeable central touchscreen, haptic buttons on the centre console and the steering wheel-mounted controls. 

All very capable, and clever, but I can’t help think that the smarter option would be something like an Audi e-tron (a fully electric SUV) in addition to a Porsche Cayman GT4 for the weekend. With that you’d get a useful electric vehicle and a proper sports car, rather than the admittedly capable, but ultimately compromised amalgam that the Turbo S E-Hybrid represents.   

THE FACTS

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

TESTED 3,996cc, V8 turbo and synchronous electric motor, eight-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel drive

PRICE/ON SALE from £123,349/now

POWER/TORQUE 670bhp @ 5,750-6,000rpm/663lb ft @ 1,500-5,000rpm (petrol engine and electric motor combined) 

TOP SPEED 183mph

ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 3.8sec

FUEL ECONOMY 72.4mpg (EU Combined)

CO2 EMISSIONS 90g/km

VED £105 first year, then £460

VERDICT A mass of contradictions, the Turbo S E-Hybrid powers its way to the top of the Cayenne range with plug-in power, yet its towering performance robs it of some poise. There are more sensible options available, but sense rarely drives purchases like this, even ones where there’s a plug involved. 

TELEGRAPH RATING Three stars out of five

THE RIVALS

Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography P400e, from £108,675

A different animal admittedly, but the plug-in Range Rover is just as likely to be in a buyer’s consciousness for electric and petrol mix. Half the capacity and cylinder count of the Porsche, but all the presence and more. 

Audi e-tron and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4, from £150,000 (combined)

A fully-electric SUV for your daily driving around town, and a proper sports car for some weekend fun. It’s a more compelling choice than a car that’s trying to be both.

Mercedes-Benz S 560e L AMG Line, from £96,750

Not an SUV, neither is it trying to be a sports car, but the S560e is a compelling luxury plug-in hybrid. It’s got circa 25 miles of electric-only range, which should be enough to get you between meetings in town, while it’s the epitome of luxury, too. 

For tips and advice, visit our Advice section, or sign up to our newsletter here

To talk all things motoring with the Telegraph Cars team join the Telegraph Motoring Club Facebook group here

A-Z Car Finder