2012 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
The 2012 Cayenne S Hybrid’s performance capabilities are commendable, especially because on top of its great fuel economy, it has a burly engine and drives almost like a regular gas-only Cayenne. Test drivers say it’s undoubtedly the most fun-to-drive hybrid SUV on the market.
- "Such prejudice evaporates after a few miles behind the wheel, where the composed ride and tactile steering make you say, ‘Hey, this is the Porsche of SUVs.’ As for hybrids, this is one of the best on the market.” -- Car and Driver
- "While you won't confuse the Cayenne for one of Porsche's legendary 911s, this SUV offers a driving experience closer to that sports car than you might think. The optional Torque Vectoring Plus turns this already-capable wagon's handling up by an order of magnitude.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The first Cayenne felt like a Porsche SUV; this one feels more like a Porsche.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Considering the Cayenne S Hybrid's excellent acceleration and high-speed stability, this is an impressive hybrid, even as a hybrid. But it's still a hybrid, with most of the compromises in its visceral impact that we've come to expect from previous hybrids.” -- Inside Line
Acceleration and Power
The Cayenne S Hybrid comes with a 3.0-liter V6 that’s paired with an electric motor for a total of 380 horsepower and a huge 427 pound-feet of torque. That’s 80 more horsepower and 132 more pound-feet of torque than the base Cayenne has, and more torque than the Cayenne S as well. The Cayenne S Hybrid comes standard with permanent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission.
Test drivers have only good things to say about the hybrid powertrain, noting that there’s a seamless transition between gasoline and electric power. An especially nice feature is the hybrid’s ability to “sail,” or coast when you take your foot off the gas, even at speeds up to 97 mph.
Reviewers are also extremely pleased with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Usually, automakers pair hybrid powertrains with continuously variable transmissions, which provide better fuel economy but don’t do very well at harnessing the engine’s power. The Cayenne Hybrid’s eight-speed helps get the most power out of the engine, and makes it feel like a normal engine, right down to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
- "Less than a mile into our drive with the Cayenne S Hybrid, we're impressed with the powertrain. Why? It's the hybrid that you'd never know was a hybrid.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "After a barely perceptible delay, the S Hybrid takes off with better-than-expected dispatch. Kudos to Porsche for pairing the Hybrid with a traditional automatic gearbox, rather than the more-conventional continuously variable transmission (CVT). The electric-to-gas transition is about the smoothest you'll find.” -- Consumer Guide
- "Behind the wheel, the Cayenne Hybrid steps lively, a mashed accelerator delivering thrilling, and smooth, acceleration. Amid the mass of buttons on the center console, one labeled Sport makes the throttle more sensitive, putting power more quickly on tap.” -- CNET
- "When it shut off, there was a slight but irritating delay when we picked up the power at the apex. Of course, only the journalists on this press trip would ever be likely to experience this situation, so it's an extremely minor quibble.” -- Car and Driver
Handling and Braking
Test drivers agree that the Porsche Cayenne Hybrid and its sibling, the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid, are the best-handling SUVs on the market. However, they have some problems with its brakes. Most say that the brakes are fantastic compared with other hybrids, but they’re not up to scratch when compared with other Porsches. That means if you’re shopping among Porsches, they’re not the best, but if you’re shopping for a hybrid SUV, you can’t get much better.
- "One of the, if not the, most car-like SUVs on the road. Cayenne's standard all-wheel drive provides reassuring grip, and steering feel is excellent. Porsche's Torque Vectoring Plus provides a noticeable handling benefit, with enhanced stability and less body lean in fast turns. Braking is strong and secure.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The batteries and electric motor add back most of the weight Porsche trimmed in the Cayenne's redesign, but for what it is, the Hybrid is surprisingly nimble and responsive.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "You would expect a Porsche, even a Cayenne Hybrid, to have superior handling, and it does, feeling light on its wheels as it slips through corners like a dancer.” -- CNET
- "Porsche has done an excellent job of minimizing the transition between regenerative and hydraulic braking on the Cayenne hybrid. However, if you try to apply the brakes gently, you can't, because the regenerative braking has a minimum threshold level. At the other end, there's a tiny delay when you release the brakes. Perhaps these niggles wouldn't matter if you drove the hybrid every day.” -- Car and Driver
- “Most annoying is the brakes' tendency to grab at the moment you come to a complete stop. Is it worse than the average hybrid? Probably not, but it's so out of place in a Porsche you can't help but notice it every time.” -- Cars.com