The Cayenne Hybrid's owner's manual is 330 pages long. A separate volume, 192 pages, deals solely with operating the sound system, trip computer, sat nav, etc. Modern cars are indeed complex things. Here's one obscure fact I learned: The residual heat of the engine can be used to heat the interior for up to 20min after the ignition has been switched off. Apparently, you just hit the Auto Rest HVAC button. More importantly, the manual recommends a 2000 mile break-in period. I'm to avoid lots of short trips, and keep the revs below 4200rpm.
With just 89 miles on the odometer, I clearly have some distance to cover before I can properly explore the intriguing combination of performance and efficiency the Cayenne Hybrid promises on paper. The good news is I have to go to San Francisco tomorrow. It's a perfect opportunity to pile on some miles.
Claimed EPA highway fuel consumption for the Cayenne Hybrid is 24mpg, and for the 391-mile run up from LA to San Francisco our Cayenne averaged 23.3mpg, according to the trip computer. After a day mooching around the Marin Headlands before returning to the city across the Golden Gate Bridge, the trip computer showed an average of 20.3mpg. According to the log-book, average consumption for the 1000-mile round trip was 23.5mpg. Pretty impressive, considering the engine's still very green.
That's because the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 has been specifically set up for low-friction running, says Porsche field technical manager Rick Perkins, who delivered the yellow Cayenne to Motor Trend Towers. "We took one apart and were amazed at how loose the tolerances were," he says. The eight speed automatic transmission also helps -- at 80mph in eighth, the engine is turning just 2000rpm -- as does the fact the Cayenne can "sail", coasting along with the engine off at highway speeds when the computer senses you've lifted right off the gas.
The switching between EV mode, "sail" mode, and internal combustion engine operation is virtually seamless. Most times you have to be watching the tach to see when the V-6 kicks in or shuts down. But I'm already aware this is not a conventional Porsche powertrain. Those loose tolerances mean the engine is a little noisy at idle, and feels grainy under light throttle loads. The apparent lack of engine braking can be a little disconcerting at first, as you tend to close on slow moving traffic faster than you expect. Combined with the aggressive brake tip-in so typical of a hybrid, it's a tricky car to drive smoothly, especially around town.
But on first acquaintance the Cayenne Hybrid is an impressive road trip car. It's quieter on most surfaces than the Panamera Turbo Mrs MacKenzie and I took to New Mexico last Thanksgiving. And that Burmester stereo is fabulous.ends
| Our Cars |
| Current mileage || 1/1384 |
| Current observed fuel economy || 20.1 mpg/0.97 lb/mi |
| Energy cons || 168 kW-hr/100 mi |
| Months in service || None |
| Maintenance cost || $0 |
| Normal-wear cost || $0 |