Track Tested: 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid

Track Tested: 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid


Just picking the categories for this one felt, somehow... wrong. Selecting first IL Track Tested, followed by SUV, and then Hybrid... and then Porsche.

Certainly hybrid SUVs are going to get more common, and certainly the popularity of the Cayenne has allowed Porsche to stay profitable and pay off the CAFE fines accumulated by special-edition 911s, Boxsters and Caymans, but still, we're track-testing a 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid.

Does it help that it has 380 horsepower and 427 pound-feet of torque from a combination of the electric motor and a supercharged V6? Or that the torque rating is achieved at only 1,000 rpm?  How about that it's got massive tires and brakes and an eight-speed automatic and that it weighs in at 5,165 pounds? Or how about skipping all that and remembering that at the end of the day, this is still a Porsche and profit center or not, it had better drive like a Porsche. The Cayenne Turbo certainly does. So does the Panamera. Can the Cayenne Hybrid do the family proud?

Vehicle: 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
Odometer: 658
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $86,510

Drive Type: Longitudinal, front-engine combined with electric motor, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Eight-speed automatic with console shifter and steering-wheel-mounted buttons
Engine Type: Supercharged, direct-injected, gasoline V6 with auto-stop/start
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,995cc/183 cu-in
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 380 @ 5,500 (combined)
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 427 @ 1,000 (combined)
Brake Type (front): 15.3-by-1.5-inch ventilated disc with 6-piston fixed caliper
Brake Type (rear): 14.1-by-1.1-inch ventilated disc with 4-piston fixed caliper
Steering System: Electric-over-hydraulic-assist, speed-proportional variable-ratio rack-and-pinion power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent double wishbones with high-mount upper arm, self-leveling pneumatic springs, driver-adjustable three-mode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, self-leveling pneumatic springs, driver-adjustable three-mode variable dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 265/50R19 110V M+S
Tire Size (rear): 265/50R19 110V M+S
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Latitude Touring
Tire Type:  All-season
Wheel size: 19-by-8.5 inches front and rear
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 5,165



Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 2.2 (2.2 with TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.1 (4.1 with TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.1 (6.4 with TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.9 (6.1 with TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.2 (9.5 with TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.5 @ 93.9 (14.6 @ 93.4 with TC on)

30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 120

Slalom (mph):64.2 (63.9 with TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.87 (0.86 with TC on)

Db @ Idle: 43.9
Db @ Full Throttle: 75.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 63.1


Acceleration: The Cayenne Hybrid positively leaps off the line, as the electric motor and supercharger give it all kinds of instant power. Shifts right at 6,500-rpm redline. Probably would be even quicker if it wasn't so resistant to power braking. Manual shifting via console lever (pull back for downshifts) or non-intuitive steering wheel buttons. Seems to make an attempt to blip throttle on downshifts. Will not hold gears to redline.

Braking: Moderately firm pedal with longish travel -- could be better. But very calm and secure stops for such a big SUV. Felt just a minor amount of fade on the last two runs.

Handling: Skid pad: The stability control system has a very high threshold, so even with it on, throttle modulation was still required. Steering is very light, so it's not easy to feel the front end grip. Chassis was incredibly responsive to drop throttle -- to the point that gentle modulation was required or it would get too much oversteer if you did a real quick lift. Slalom: Light steering that's also oddly quick for an SUV of this size and weight. The stability control system's limits are nearly perfect, as it added only a dash of brakes if you got very aggressive with the last couple of cones. But with ESC off, it was easy to enter too hot, causing too much understeer, or if you backed off the throttle, too much oversteer. You really feel the Cayenne's weight going around the cones.

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