"Owning" our new Porsche Cayenne long-termer might not seem like taking one for the team, but bear with me. I could have ordered the Turbo. After all, a 500-horsepower SUV that'll nail 0-60 in the low 4s and has a claimed top speed of 172 mph sounds wickedly entertaining. But, no, in the interests of journalistic endeavor, I ordered the S Hybrid.
Why? It's technically intriguing. The powertrain is composed of a 333-horse, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission with a compact 47-horse electric motor. Total system output is 380 horses and 427 pound-feet, compared with the 400 horses and 369 pound-feet delivered by the 4.8-liter V-8 in the regular Cayenne S. It's also philosophically interesting. While today's diesels can deliver impressive performance and a diesel is offered in Euro-spec Cayennes (and now the Panamera), Porsche engineers are not entirely convinced oil-burners are right for the brand. So this is Zuffenhausen's alternative: a performance-oriented hybrid. And I want to find out whether the hardware delivers on the promise.
It didn't take more than a few clicks on the options configurator to send the S Hybrid's sticker soaring from the $68,675 base price to $93,285. The 20-inch Cayenne SportDesign II wheels added $2730, XM radio $750, and a trailer hitch $650. The Premium Package Plus cost $11,650, but it includes the air suspension with PASM, the 26. 4-gallon extended fuel tank, and 14-way power seats with memory-among other goodies-that I figure will make the S Hybrid a killer road-trip vehicle.