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Porsche Cayenne Hybrid S
4/10

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Porsche Cayenne Hybrid S tested

Driven October 2010

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The Cayenne S Hybrid is so complex it's a miracle it works at all. But, sadly, the various bits of electronics and mechanics are hopeless at working to a common purpose. Porsche says its 333bhp supercharged V6 plus its electric motor can work together for hard acceleration: 0-62 in 6.5 seconds, and on with little-diminished gusto thereafter. Very well, that's true.

But here you are, sitting behind a truck at 55mph, foot off the throttle. In that case the car will probably have chosen to ‘sail' - the engine is automatically declutched and shut down. It's very peaceful. But then the road goes straight and you floor it. And wait while the engine starts, comes up to matched revs and is clutched in. It makes a thunk. And still you're not accelerating properly. The autobox was in eighth. It needs to be in third (which is good for 90mph). Can you imagine the commotion of shifting down five ratios? And after all that mucking about, the straight's ended and you're still behind the truck.

So this hopeless lack of real-world responsiveness completely undermines the published performance. The diesel Cayenne is said to do 0-62 in 7.8 seconds, but because it works more simply, it feels just as fast, real-world. And it's more economical.

The hybrid is unpredictable too. Sometimes when you brush the accelerator, the electric motor alone does the job. Then your foot asks for a little more, and the engine arrives and propels you away with unexpected zeal. Same with the brakes. They're grabby at low speed, because the device that divides effort between regeneration and friction is a bit clumsy. The only nice thing is when you're stuck in traffic and it creeps silently on e-power alone.

In return for all this gadgetry, the Cayenne S Hybrid is £13,431 more than the diesel. You could get a diesel and the excellent optional air suspension and bigger wheels and a whole lot more for that. Or the diesel without options and 10,000-odd litres of fuel, which is 80,000 miles' worth.

Otherwise, the whole Cayenne range is much better for 2010. The 110kg lighter bodyshell, lighter 4WD hardware and 60kg lighter chassis are good for performance, handling, economy, ride, everything really. (Though the transmission doesn't have the same extreme off-road gears). The new cabin is roomier than before and has a dash quite like a Panamera's. Porsche has made the outside look more lithe, so fewer people will hate you. But don't imagine hybrid badges will reduce that hatred any further. At least not among those who know anything about anything.

Paul Horrell

On your drive for: £1,420pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 6.5secs, max speed 150mph, 34.4mpg
Tech: 2995cc, V6, 4WD, 380bhp, 428lb ft, 2240kg, 193g/km CO2

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