I turned the key to the right and shockingly, nothing seemed to happen. This was the first of several odd moments I had while driving the 2016 Cayenne S Hybrid. On a day full of seeing the latest and greatest and driving some of the hot new hybrids on the street, the one that I am still mulling over is perhaps the oddest of the lot.
I’m still new to this who Auto Writing thing. But still, the idea of PR reps, and salespeople now catering to my needs and whims, in the hoppes of getting me to say something sweet about their new ninety-thousand dollar Hybrid SUV is daunting. Inviting, but still daunting. So after being fed, caffeinated, and pretty much recruited into the fold of Texan Auto Writers, I was ready to get out for a dive.
And I was just in luck, as the Texas Auto Writers Association had gotten us a bunch of hybrids and EVs to drive. I looked outside to see what was awaiting us, and I immediately made a beeline towards the Cayenne. It’s been awhile since I’ve driven a nice SUV, and even longer since I’ve driven a hybrid. And as a Porsche 944 owner, I figured that driving the savior of the company would probably be good for perspective
I saddled up to the man from Porsche, and dumped my backpack in the back seat, taking note of how roomy the whole SUV was. Climbing in I was immediately taken aback by the steering wheel and gauge cluster. The wheel is lifted straight from the 918, and that hybrid through-line from Porsche gives the whole car more street cred than I had anticipated. That, and the gauge cluster had the lovely secondary screen which gave me my navigation data, which, apart from the screen in the new TT, was just the most amazing thing.
The next most amazing thing was driving away in a five-thousand pound SUV with a Porsche badge on it in complete silence. No road noise, no engine noise, nothing. In full electric you have the most amazing torque available all over the place. I actually laughed. I had to admit to the man from Porsche that I was a bit weirded out by it. The idea of a luxury sports SUV that you can drive in full electric mode is awesome, but the fact that it has the wheel of a million dollar supercar and the technology powering a LMP1 car is really odd.
Even with all the weirdness, there was one thing that I couldn’t deny: the big ol’ Porsche drives quite well. The chassis is really lovely, and handles the weight of the beast. The visibility and height were nice, but not overwhelming. What was once weird, was welcoming. The idea that you could have the amazing engineering of a Porsche, but still have run all of your local errands in full electric mode became increasingly tantalizing. The Cayenne was a treat to drive, and rock solid inside and out.
And that is what makes the Cayenne uniquely still a Porsche. It left me confused, but happily wanting more. And that’s more than I can say about most SUVs.