Porsche pioneered sporty hybrid SUVs when the second-generation Cayenne, introduced in 2010, got an electrically-assisted engine and then became a plug-in hybrid in 2014. It featured a 10.8kWh battery pack and while it did chart new waters, it was a little glitchy at times. But it was a start.
Now though, with the third-generation Cayenne, Porsche has really upped the ante and has produced what is pretty much the perfect posh performance plug-in hybrid SUV – just don’t look at the day-glo yellow badges too much.
The fluorescent yellow badges and brake callipers are the only things that mark out the plug-in hybrid Cayenne over its petrol-powered brethren. Otherwise the E-Hybrid model looks much like any other standard Cayenne, which means you won't be sacrificing style for eco.
There are also two different versions of the Cayenne with a plug. The E-Hybrid slots above the entry level petrol-engined Cayenne, and with the demise of the diesel Cayennes, the E-Hybrid becomes the cleanest and most frugal version you can buy. At the other end of the spectrum, the Turbo S E-Hybrid is the most powerful Cayenne on sale with a frankly bonkers 671bhp combined power output. It has very few (if any) rivals.
The E-Hybrid uses a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine for a combined power output of 456bhp, while the Turbo S has Porsche’s fantastic 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8s under its bonnet. Despite the different engines, both use the same 134bhp electric motor mated to a 14.1kWh battery pack and both are four-wheel drive.
With all this power on offer and around 20 miles of electric range, there’s the potential for some pretty guilt-free motoring. But while the Turbo S E-Hybrid is hugely impressive, you do get the sense that the electric motor is there purely to boost the power levels – it’s not really an SUV that’s trying to have an environmental conscience.
The E-Hybrid, on the other hand, is a bit more balanced and geared up for electric motoring. That said, the BMW X5 xDrive45e does have a much longer electric range but no other big, premium SUV drives quite like the way the Cayenne does.
If you want an SUV that’s thrilling to drive but can also run silently on electric power, then there’s no better car on sale at this moment in time.