When Porsche introduced the third-generation Cayenne at the end of August 2017, it only revealed the V6-powered base and S versions together with the beefier Turbo equipped with a larger V8 engine. Later this year, the wraps will come off an E-Hybrid derivative expected to use the same powertrain as the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid.
But first, the partially electrified SUV has to endure a grueling evaluation in South Africa where Porsche has shipped a bunch of prototypes for a final round of tests in order to work out the kinks ahead of the production model’s debut. The near-production prototypes with their hybrid-specific neon green brake calipers are being driven through difficult mountain passes at altitudes of more than 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) and also have to tackle the jam-packed roads of Johannesburg.
According to Oliver Laqua, Director Complete Vehicle Product Line SUV, the Cayenne E-Hybrid is being tested “in a customer-focused way” and the company is on the verge of introducing the model to the market. Aside from being tested in South Africa, the electrified SUV was also put through its paces in northern Canada at temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit) as well as in the deserts of Dubai at 40°C (104°F).
Like the aforementioned Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, the forthcoming Cayenne E-Hybrid is expected to combine a biturbo 2.9-liter V6 engine with an electric motor for a total output of 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet (700 Newton-meters) of torque. It should feature a 14-kWh lithium-ion battery pack providing a longer electric range compared to the previous hybrid Cayenne, as per the promise made by Porsche. Although the company is being coy on details for the time being, we do know the Cayenne E-Hybrid will sip 3.2 liters / 100 km in the combined cycle, which works out to an impressive 73.5 miles per gallon.
Further down the line, there’s also going to be an already-confirmed Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid with a monstrous 680 hp and 626 lb-ft (850 Nm) coming from a biturbo 4.0-liter V8 and an electric motor. Porsche will probably use this range topper to try and reclaim the title for the fastest production SUV at the Nürburgring, a record currently held by the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio with a time of 7 minutes and 51.7 seconds. Let’s keep in mind that Lamborghini with its Urus a.k.a. “Super SUV” might be interested in earning the title as well.
Meanwhile, expect the regular Cayenne E-Hybrid to break cover in the following weeks as Porsche says the new SUV version is “on the cusp of the market launch.” A diesel-powered Cayenne is also on the agenda and is likely set to become the very last diesel Porsche ever.