Perfect dichotomy: Porsche unveils Cayenne S E-Hybrid in Paris

Kap Maceda Aguila - The Philippine Star

PARIS, France—“The biggest revolution in technique is always in racecars first, then we try to translate it in serious production,” said Porsche AG president and CEO Matthias Müller to STAR Motoring, who got a hold of the executive shortly after he presided over the world premiere of the Cayenne S E-Hybrid at the ongoing Paris Motor Show.

A couple of months removed from the 82nd edition of the famous endurance race at Le Mans, where Porsche ended its 16-year absence from the top-tier LMP1 class, the iconic carmaker from Stuttgart continues a push towards “maximum performance and maximum efficiency.”

Not to mention a propensity for melding dichotomous virtues. After all, the burly Cayenne is probably the last place you’d look for a thrifty power plant. While we’re at it, the renowned Porsche marque’s earnest push towards more eco-friendly engines is also surprising considering its sterling history in motorsports—30,000 victories and counting in over 60 years. Looking back at Le Mans, where the Porsche think tank trotted out the revolutionary 919 Hybrid that combined impeccable performance and frugality through its 2.0-liter, DOHC, turbocharged, direct-fuel-injection V4 engine (good for 500 hp) plus electric motor (delivering 250hp)—Porsche is obviously mastering this contrast.

Come to think of it, this competitive spirit is probably what propels the ingenious folks at Porsche to push the envelope in alternative powertrain. The all-wheel-drive Cayenne E-Hybrid is the first plug-in hybrid in the premium SUV niche. Imagine going 100 kilometers on a mere 3.4 liters of fuel—while emitting 79 grams of CO2 per km. When powered by its high-voltage battery alone, the vehicle can muster 18 to 36 kilometers and a top speed is 125 kph. This range is significant, according to Porsche, because “most everyday journeys can (now) be made without consuming fuel or producing local emissions.”

Along with the Panamera S E-Hybrid and the 918 Spyder, Porsche is the “world’s only manufacturer to offer three plug-in hybrids as production models.”

At a glance, the Cayenne E-Hybrid variant is distinguished from its brethren via the acid-green halo on its emblems. On its front side panels are e-hybrid logos treated the same way. The Cayenne’s brake calipers are also rendered in the color to complete the look—as with the indicator needles in the cockpit.

Porsche says the Cayenne S E-Hybrid carries a new lithium-ion traction battery that positively trumps the previous 1.7 kWh figure from a nickel-metal-hydride battery from the previous hybrid variant. Now supplying a staggering 10.8 kWh, there is no surprise then that the power output of the electric motor has jumped from 34 kW to 70 kW (95 hp).

The drivetrain, tested and proven in the Panamera S E-Hybrid, has been conscripted for use in the Cayenne S E-Hybrid. Porsche maintains that the Cayenne “offers an impressive electric driving experience that the driver can control intuitively,” courtesy of an accelerator pedal with a pressure switching point that can “precisely regulate the electric motor’s power development and activate the combustion engine.” All told, the system power output of the supercharged, 3.0-liter V6 plus the electric motor delivers 416 hp – propeling the Cayenne to 100 kph in 5.9 ticks and a top figure of 243 kph. To simplify operation of this new variant, Porsche Car Connect is a standard feature that gives info on demand, such as the state of charge or energy efficiency or to control the optional stationary heating/air conditioning.

At the previous night’s Volkswagen Group Night (Porsche is a corporate sibling to Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ducati, Volkswagen, Scania, and Man), Müller paid tribute to the Cayenne, which has sold more than 580,000 units since its inception in 2002. “The Cayenne secures the financial basis for our investment in future sports-car generations,” he had said.

Back at the Paris Motor Show, Müller said customers in Asia could expect its touted midsize SUV’s greenest variant to start shipping by the end of the year, and added that Porsche’s goal since he assumed office in 2010 was to develop vehicles that would be “10 to 15 percent more fuel efficient” than the previous generation.

“It’s our dogma; there’s no discussion about that,” he declared.

Having said that, Müller quickly added that, in the final analysis, it’s the Porsche customer who decides if he or she wants a traditional combustion engine, a hybrid, or a full electric.

So if you can’t make up your mind just yet, the new Cayenne S E-Hybrid should sate your motoring goals – however they may shape up – quite nicely. Oui?

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