2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid Preview
- Completely redesigned for 2011
- New 8-speed automatic transmission
- Supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine
- Longer wheelbase increases interior room
- New all-wheel-drive system
- New electric power steering
- Lighter and more fuel efficient
- Gasoline-electric hybrid powerplant
- Auxiliary 47-horsepower electric motor
- All-electric speeds up to 40 mph
- Unique hybrid "sailing" technology
Originally launched in 2003, the Cayenne sport utility vehicle was a marked departure from the generations of Porsche sports cars that preceded it. The 5-passenger SUV boasted both on- and off-road prowess, and a choice between 6- and 8-cylinder powerplants. While it shared many common components with the Volkswagen Touareg (including the chassis), the Cayenne was designed, tuned and manufactured exclusively by Porsche.
Regardless of the admonishment by Porsche purists, the Cayenne was a sales success for the automaker (eventually outselling the venerable 911). In 2007, the "second-generation" Cayenne arrived. While it wasn't an all-new design, it carried significant upgrades, including a revised body design and reworked engines.
Completely redesigned for the 2011 model year, the Porsche Cayenne once again shares major platform components with the Volkswagen Touareg. With the new platform, the automakers worked hard to reduce weight, recognizing that most consumers never took advantage of the very capable off-road systems within the vehicle. Focus was directed on structural design, lightweight materials, and a new all-wheel-drive system. At its debut during the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, the all-new Cayenne was several hundred pounds lighter, more torsionally rigid, and more aerodynamic than its predecessor.
Porsche has traditionally offered many variants of the Cayenne with 6- and 8-cylinder power and even turbocharged high-performance models. Complementing the gasoline-powered lineup for 2011 is the all-new Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid-the automaker's first dual-energy vehicle. Model Lineup
When it joins the rest of the gas-powered Cayenne models in mid 2010, the luxurious sport-tuned SUV is expected to be priced above the Cayenne (6-cylinder) in the bracket occupied by the Cayenne S (8-cylinder) model. Like its siblings, the hybrid variant will be fitted with leather upholstery and a full complement of convenience accessories, including power windows, power door locks, power seats and cruise control.
The 2011 Cayenne S Hybrid is a unique model in Porsche's lineup-it is the automaker's first production model with a hybrid drive. Under the hood, the SUV utilizes a 333_horsepower, gas-powered, supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine for motivation (Porsche's first-the automaker typically uses turbochargers.). Partnered with the 6-cylinder engine is a 47-horsepower (34 kW) electric motor. Combined, the two powerplants generate a maximum of 380 horsepower and 427 lb.-ft. of torque. With this kind of power, the hybrid offers the same performance as the Cayenne S with a V-8, says Porsche. Power is sent through an all-new, highly efficient 8-speed automatic transmission. (At the time of writing, fuel economy ratings had not yet been announced.)
Electricity is stored in a 288-volt nickel-metal-hydride (NiMh) battery pack located beneath the luggage compartment. The batteries are charged by the combustion engine or through regenerative means when the brakes are applied. A so-called Hybrid Manager is tasked with masterminding the drive process-whether power is supplied via electricity, combustion or both. If the system determines conditions are right, the Cayenne S Hybrid may run a few miles solely on electric power-free from emissions and most noise-at speeds approaching 40 mph, the automaker says.
Like its siblings, the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid is equipped with a full-time all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. As Porsche understood that few previous-generation Cayenne owners took their vehicles off road, the automaker has simplified the formerly heavy and complex AWD system for the new model. Under normal operation, power is sent to both the front and rear wheels (the bias is towards the rear in order to maintain rear-wheel-drive handling properties that are preferred by driving enthusiasts). If electronics determine that some of the wheels are slipping, power is sent through an electronically controlled, map-based, multiple-plate clutch to the wheels with grip. Througout, the entire process is transparent to the driver.
Standard safety features on every 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid include six air bags: dual front, dual side, and dual curtain. In addition, all Cayenne models are equipped with standard Porsche Stability Management including pre-loading of the braking system, anti-lock brakes (ABS), and Trailer Stability Control. Safety features are enhanced with an electronic rollover sensor that triggers belt latch tensioners and side-curtain air bags to reduce the risk of injury for all occupants in a rollover.
While most hybrid vehicles are able to run at very low speeds exclusively on electric power, the 2011 Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid offers a unique twist-the automaker calls it "sailing." The reference is to wind-driven boats gliding silently across the water, and there is reasoning behind it-the Cayenne S Hybrid is able to shut down and completely disengage its combustion engine and run solely on battery power at speeds of up to 97 mph.
With the gasoline powerplant and its associated hardware removed from the powertrain equation, the drag forces and braking effect of the engine are eliminated-greatly improving efficiency. When the driver calls for more power, the combustion engine immediately starts and the powertrain is once again engaged. According to Porsche, the entire process occurs within fractions of a second, allowing the vehicle to operate in the same manner as a Cayenne with a conventional power unit.