Porsche gives the Cayenne an electric boost

The 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid, launched at the 2010 New York auto show, uses a nickel metal hydride battery pack to power a 47-horsepower electric motor.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
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Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid
Porsche's Cayenne S Hybrid, launched at the New York auto show, becomes available in fall of this year. Sarah Tew/CNET

Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid (photos)

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NEW YORK--The Porsche Cayenne may be one of the fastest SUVs around, but Porsche aims to make it one of the cleanest around, too, with its new hybrid system. Porsche unveiled the Cayenne S Hybrid at the 2010 New York auto show, a full hybrid capable of driving under electric power up to 35 mph.

Porsche gave the Cayenne a general update for the 2011 model year and added the hybrid version to the model line alongside the base model, S, and Turbo. Although the new Cayenne is almost 2 inches longer than the previous version, a de-emphasized grille and a more raked windshield give it a more compact appearance.

Porsche emulated the design of its 911 and Panamera in the front end of the new Cayenne. The interior has also been redesigned with a center stack and a console more accessible to the driver.

The hybrid system uses a nickel metal hydride battery pack under the cargo area to power a 47-horsepower electric motor, which couples its power with that of a supercharged, 3-liter, direct-injection, six-cylinder engine through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The combined power from this system comes out to 380 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque at just 1,000rpm. That gets the Cayenne S Hybrid to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, according to Porsche. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy numbers for the Cayenne S Hybrid aren't in yet, but in the European Drive Cycle, it gets the equivalent of 24 mpg.

The hybrid system allows engine-stop behavior at traffic lights and also includes a drive mode that Porsche calls "sailing." At high speeds up to 97 mph, when the driver isn't pushing the gas pedal, the Cayenne S Hybrid will shut down the engine and decouple the entire power train from the wheels, letting it coast. As soon as the driver presses the gas pedal, the engine kicks back in.

Along with a dynamic suspension, Porsche makes adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot warning system available on the Cayenne S Hybrid. The car comes standard with all-wheel drive, which can be upgraded to include torque vectoring across the rear wheels.

The Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid goes on sale as a 2011 model in the fall, starting at $67,700.