Pure electric propulsion is the name of the game for cutting gas/electric hybrid fuel consumption, and Porsche claims to have taken it to a whole new level with the upcoming 2010 Cayenne S Hybrid. Capable of traveling at speeds up to 86 mph solely on electric propulsion, the 5,000-some-odd pound full-frame SUV's thirst for premium should be cut dramatically.
Porsche Cayenne S HybridEnlarge Photo
Economy estimated at 26 mpg or slightly greater (extrapolated from Porsche's claim of less than 9 liters/100 km fuel consumed on the European cycle) is very respectable for this behemoth, but it's a figure shamed by car-based crossover hybrids. Interesting will be the difference between city and highway mileage; typically, gas/electric hybrids attain their biggest mileage benefits in city driving where the electric motors are most helpful, but this Porsche system turns that paradigm on its head with stout electric highway capabilities.
The hybrid drive in the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid uses a parallel full hybrid design that sandwiches the electric motor between an Audi-sourced V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 is Audi's new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 found in models like the 2009 Audi A6, itself surprisingly efficient considering the 333 hp and 324 lb-ft torque it yields. The electric motor will be supplied by a 154-lb. nickel metal hybrid battery that fits in the spare tire well.
Porsche promises no intrusions into cabin or cargo space, as well as a 0-60 mph sprint of just under 6.8 seconds. So drivers of heavy luxury SUVs may soon have their cake and eat it too. But aren't drivers of luxury SUVs quickly abandoning the segment? History will tell us the rest of the story, but let's not forget the miserable sales of GM's (Tahoe, Escalade) and Chrysler's (Aspen, Durango) well-engineered full-size SUV hybrids.