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Something Hot, But Environmentally Friendlier, From South Of The Border

...South of the border of Denmark, if my map is correct
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(credit: Su-E Tan) Kent Shocknek
Kent Shocknek, anchors weekday prime-time newscasts on CBS-TV's KCAL9...
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If the world keeps turning upside down at this rate, pretty soon it’ll be back on its proper axis. Specifically, the car world. All of us — you, me, that guy over there — grew up in a time when the name Porsche meant only one thing: sports cars. There was a huge outcry when the German manufacturer first announced it would make a sport ute… and don’t get me started on the introduction of Porsche’s 4-door sedan, the Panamera. (Or, go ahead and get me started: I like it just fine.)

But now there’s one more spin of the ol’ globe, as Porsche hits the road with its high-performance SUV, a Cayenne that’s a hybrid.

From the outside, there’s almost nothing but a badge to tell you that the Cayenne S Hybrid is powered by a 3-litre supercharged V6 (instead of the expected V8), plus an electric motor. Get used to it: as hybrids become less unique, different engine set-ups becomes less intrusive. In the Cayenne S Hybrid,  it’s almost invisible. It is a bit strange to drive at highway speeds and watch the tach suddenly drop from 3500 rpm, to zero. The first time I noticed, I wondered “Have I just lost the engine?” — No, the actual gasoline engine had simply taken a nap, while electric motor took over. It’s pretty impressive, that the driving experience itself, didn’t change a bit (Per Porsche: 0-60 in 6.1 seconds.)

The Cayenne needed its recent restyle; not that the old one was starting to look its age; it’s just that several other manufacturers have had time to copy it. Inside, it has all the leather-wrapped bells and whistles you’d expect. I drove one for a couple hundred miles, and didn’t arrive tired. And I noticed the gas level didn’t drop anywhere near what it would on an all-gas model. Porsche claims 24 mpg /Highway.

The Cayenne S Hybrid stickers around $68K. For that, you could get three Priuses. But not one of them would be parked up front at the valet stand. And I’m pretty certain people who go for the Cayenne probably use valets: at least one part of the world that hasn’t turned upside down at all. (Video to follow.)

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