Porsche is extremely keen that the new hybrid Cayenne is not seen as a compromised choice any more. The sales pitch is that it offers the performance expected of the marque first and foremost, while offering locally green town pootling and lower running costs as an added bonus.
To help juggle these abilities, the E-Hybrid comes with almost as many driving modes as there are days in the week. To the usual Sport and Sport Plus modes, there’s E-Power (which runs up to 84mph in pure-EV mode) E-Hold (which stops draining the battery until you tell it otherwise) and E-Charge (which decreases efficiency to top up the battery for later use).
E-Power also has an electric-only launch control feature, though with 134bhp of EV power available it’s more Nissan Leaf than Tesla. Best, in our view, to leave it in Hybrid Auto mode most of the time, where the car’s clever electronic brain balances the two power sources in a commendably smooth fashion.
It means you find yourself driving in a very un-Porsche fashion, brushing the throttle with a featherweight touch to try and keep the engine off as long as possible. It’ll do this even once run out of charge with braking and coasting energy recuperation, meaning over 30mpg is easily within reach even if you never go near the wallbox.
If you do plug-in, you’ll find a realistic range figure in the low twenties, so plenty for a school run and a good chunk of the average commute. You’ll get exceptional refinement, too – though even when the petrol engine is re-activated its distant, cultured note is far from unpleasant.
When you’ve finished playing the eco-game and remember you’re in a Porsche, the E-Hybrid delivers enough performance to outgun a 718 Boxster. Certainly, we foresee few situations in Britain where you’d want or need to go faster than this in a two tonne-plus luxo-SUV, making the Cayenne Turbo seem a touch excessive.
There’s little savagery in the power delivery – instead, in combination with the silky smooth eight-speed Tiptronic box, it delivers effortless punch no matter where you are in the rev range. The only time powertrain can be knocked out of sync is if you floor the throttle and then back off, when the Cayenne holds onto a low gear for a few seconds longer than is necessary.