Quick Look: 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid

The world stood still when Porsche announced they would build and SUV. Purists said it was akin to Rolex building a clock radio. Yet several years later 280,000 have sold, the enthusiast body didn’t run for the hills, and all new redesigned model was commissioned for 2011. And to add insult to injury, Porsche has added a hybrid model to the lineup.

But don’t go thinking they’ve gone all soft. Porsche’s first production hybrid is the “other kind” of hybrid. This is to say that this hybrid’s main purpose isn’t to give you a nice show car to arrive in at the next Earth Day celebration. This hybrid with its 333hp supercharged V6 engine and 47hp electric traction motor are about letting you have your cake and eating it too.

For 2011, the Cayenne is redesigned from the ground up to begin with. While the styling appears evolutionary, it has an all new exterior design that appears sleeker and smaller yet it has grown a bit larger. It is 1.9 inches longer than its predecessor, and an added 1.6 inches in wheelbase ensures extra space and greater versatility. New headlights resemble those on other Porsches, with the high-beam lamps positioned closer to the center line of the car and the low-beams toward the outer edge.

A new interior is even richer than before with more deeply sculpted forms, more leather, and more wood. There is a high center console that like the original Carrera GT and now the Panamera rises up at an incline to meet the dashboard center stack with high-quality fittings and a touch-screen infotainment interface to provide a cockpit-like environment up front. The center console grab handles that were present in the original Cayenne are still there, yet with a new design that is carried over to all four doors.

While it has gained more size and technology, Porsche managed to lose about 400lbs over the last generation Cayenne with is a major feat. An active all-wheel drive system can be paired with Porsche’s new optional torque vectoring control.

Through continuous interaction between the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and electric motor, the
Cayenne S Hybrid focuses on maximum efficiency. Depending on driving conditions, either drive unit can operate independently or together. The 47-horsepower electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and the Cayenne’s 8-speed transmission. The two combine for a total potential output of 380hp and 428 lbs. of torque.

The “Hybrid Manager” seamlessly coordinates the two power units. Its electric motor and its
supercharged V6 are connected to one another by a decoupling clutch, which ensures that the
Cayenne S Hybrid may be driven either by the electric motor or the combustion engine alone, or
by both drive units together. Their complex interaction is managed via the clutch in a way that makes the transition among various driving modes seamless and comfortable.

The Cayenne S Hybrid can go up to 40 mph in electric mode. For aggressive acceleration, the
motor is summoned to supplement the gasoline engine. The system uses a 288-volt nickel metal-hydride (NiMh) battery fitted beneath the luggage compartment. Regenerative braking is used to regain electricity during braking and coasting.

Additional savings potential by ‘sailing’ up to 97 mph Using the decoupling clutch, the Cayenne S Hybrid also has the potential to further enhance fuel economy at high speeds. Christened by the Weissach engineers as ‘sailing’ – or coasting – mode, when the Cayenne S Hybrid does not need drive power and the driver lifts off the accelerator at speeds up to 97 mph, the gasoline engine can be completely switched off and disengaged from the drivetrain.

This means a significant reduction of fuel consumption at steady highway speeds, with engine
drag forces and their braking effect being eliminated to reduce driving resistance. As soon as
the driver presses the accelerator in the sailing mode, to pass another vehicle for example, the
gasoline engine smoothly starts within fractions of a second and engine rpms are increased to
match the current vehicle speed. The Cayenne S Hybrid is able to accelerate dynamically in gears at higher speeds much like a conventional Cayenne.

The Cayenne S Hybrid comes with permanent all-wheel drive complete with a self-locking center differential. Handling prowess is gained by using more lightweight aluminum in the suspension components. The 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid starts at $68,300.


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