2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Porsche is planning to sell its redesigned 2011 Cayenne SUV in China with an entirely different, more modern base V-6 engine than the Cayenne gets in the U.S. and elsewhere, a company official revealed last week.

Chinese-market Cayenne models will get the same supercharged version of the 3.0-liter, 90-degree Audi TFSI V-6 that's already used in the Audi S4 (and in a variation, in the A6)—as well as in the new 2011 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, which uses that engine in conjunction with an electric motor system, modulated with a clutch-pack and sophisticated electronic management.

For the U.S., as well as Europe and much of the rest of the world, Porsche is installing the aged, iron-block Volkswagen VR6 engine into the 2011 Porsche Cayenne V6. We just drove the Cayenne V6 and still think the VR6 is smooth and sweet—and especially well-tuned in Porsche guise, getting a Porsche-exclusive intake manifold and exhaust—but it sounds a little bit odd that we get the older engine.

Why is China getting the newer-tech powerplant? The simple answer is the three-liter rule. Vehicles in China are taxed based on engine size, and those with a displacement between 3.0 and 4.0 liters are subject to a 40-percent tax—versus 25 percent for those measuring 2.5 to 3.0 liters. And looking up close at specs, the 3.0 TFSI engine displaces 2,995 cc. Considering the sticker price of a Porsche, that's big money and an over 3.0-liter engine could really be to the detriment of sales, gauged Porsche, outweighing any money saved on the engine.

Porsche officials certainly aren't ruling out that the TFSI V-6 will be offered in the U.S., eventually, alongside or in place of the VR6. Of course for the U.S. and elsewhere, the Cayenne V6 is just the entry model, and it's offered in potent Cayenne S and scorching Cayenne Turbo models.

Beginning in 2011, though, Audi has committed to downsize and will be dropping its current V-6 and V-8 engines from the related Audi Q7 and replacing them with two different versions of the 3.0-liter TFSI.

The VR6 and the TFSI V-6 are just two of the four different six-cylinder engines Porsche installs in its five-model lineup. Its sports cars get several versions of its excellent water-cooled flat-six engine, and the 2011 Porsche Panamera and Panamera 4, its own new 90-degree V-6, an aluminum-alloy engine that's closely related (and assembled alongside) the Porsche V-8s.