It’s like an arcade game boost mode, only in real life and without the need for a pocket full of quarters.
In typical driving, the standard Hybrid mode uses the lithium-ion battery to boost performance. The result is smooth, linear power and almost no hint of underhood rumble even as the tachometer needle sweeps toward redline.
An E-Charge mode runs the gas engine at a higher rate to charge the battery while driving. For Americans, that mode is dubious—cheating, almost—but for Europeans on their way to an emissions-free zone, it could prove handy.
The Cayenne E-Hybrid comes standard with the Sport Chrono package that’s optional on the Cayenne S—an odd quirk that further adds to the hybrid’s appeal. That means that both Sport and Sport+ drive modes are just a twist away on the steering wheel dial.
For now, Porsche is mum on fuel-economy figures for the Cayenne E-Hybrid, but they will certainly best the outgoing hybrid’s 24 mpg combined rating.
Other than making fewer stops at gas stations, the Cayenne E-Hybrid does little to advertise its eco-chic credentials. The bright green accents outside—about the same shade as the pollen swirling through the air—are thankfully not carried over to the Cayenne’s sublime, roomy interior.
The rain commences again as I approach La Grand-Motte, a seaside town especially popular with European pensioners on holiday, and I’m forced to stab the brakes as a lumbering Renault van with Belgian plates stumbles into my lane. Here the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s only notable weakness comes into play: rubbery brake feel. Six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers grab the steel rotors with authority and bring things to a quick halt, but these regenerative brakes give up a hint of pedal communication compared to the conventional binders in the Cayenne S.
Still, the brakes don’t rain on the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s parade too much. They’re the only demerit of a crossover that otherwise combines all the right virtues—usability, performance, refinement, improved efficiency, and even value.