Porsche knew. Despite legions of naysayers carping about the automaker, famous for its sportscars, entering the SUV sector with the original Cayenne, nearly 300,000 have been sold worldwide. That kind of success warrants an encore, and Porsche has prepared the all-new 2011 Cayenne to keep the dynasty plowing forward.
Power is certainly there; the Cayenne Turbo is the very definition of brute-force acceleration. What's surprising is the amount of attention Porsche paid to efficiency when developing the 2011 Cayenne. In fact, the Cayenne was developed according to the Porsche Intelligent Performance philosophy. More power with less fuel plus lower emissions is the overarching theme.
In the 300 hp Cayenne V6, an eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic transmission improves fuel economy by 20 percent. Eight speeds allow for both astonishing acceleration and surprising fuel economy. The Cayenne also offers an automatic start/stop function lifted from the Panamera that shuts down the engine at stops to conserve fuel. Also designed into the Cayenne are carefully controlled cooling circuits to keep the temperature of the engine and transmission at the optimal point for efficiency, and an onboard electrical system that can gather back energy normally lost.
The Cayenne's all-wheel drive system is new and uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch to transfer power to the front wheels only when needed. The system sacrifices none of the off-road capability the Cayenne is known for; its lighter weight actually enhances dynamics in all conditions, on- and off-road. A body structure designed with an eye toward lightness also keeps the Cayenne's appetite for fuel as low as possible; the use of aluminum in the chassis has trimmed 145 pounds, and the Cayenne S is nearly 400 pounds lighter than its predecessor even though the 2011 Cayenne actually grows in size.
The ultimate in Porsche Cayenne efficiency is the all-new Cayenne S Hybrid. Despite packing a combined power output of 380 hp from its electric motor and V6 engine, the Cayenne S Hybrid has the cleanest emissions of any Porsche vehicle. Capable of powering around solely on electric power for short distances, the Cayenne S Hybrid is Porsche's first hybrid production vehicle. Acceleration is not hard to find with the hybrid's electric motor providing extra boost, and when no propulsion is needed, the Cayenne S Hybrid can also decouple the wheels and "sail" while consuming no power.
Judging from the success of the outgoing Cayenne, one would not do well to bet against Porsche. The 2011 Cayenne gets a filled-out suite of performance and efficiency skills – underscored by larger dimensions that are deftly hidden by stylish bodywork – and an interior that packs all of the expected Porsche luxury and technology along with some unexpected twists. Odds are that makers are heavily in favor of the 2011 Cayenne. MSRP starts at $46,700.