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Passenger preview: 2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.

Passenger preview: 2014 Porsche Macan
We've been sideways in the new Porsche Macan Turbo - though sat in the passenger seat admittedly.

   



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| First Drive | Dusseldorf, Germany | Porsche Macan |

Overview

Porsche brings us its fifth distinct model line with its second SUV, the Audi Q5-based Macan (an Indonesian word for 'tiger'). Can the smaller 4x4 live up to the company's hope of it being the first 'sports car' in this segment?

In the Metal: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

We cannot express enough how much better the Macan works as a piece of automotive design that attempts to blend SUV proportions with Porsche heritage when compared to its existing big brother, the Cayenne. Despite the fact numerous facelifts have improved the larger Porsche 4x4, the Macan immediately trumps the Cayenne on visuals as it is so much more taut, muscular and pleasing to behold, even in lowlier S Diesel trim. The steeply sloped rear hatch, absence of huge areas of sheet metal and its smaller, lower body with shorter overhangs front and rear all work well to disguise its bulk, because it's still a big car - all three launch models are within 150kg of two tonnes. The Turbo on bigger wheels is the obvious winner, what with its squared-off quad rear exhausts and highlighted front side intakes marking it out as something special.

We were told to go easy on the interior finish as all cars present at the ADAC Fahrsicherheitszentrum near Dusseldorf were pre-production, but this is also an area in which the Macan promises to excel. The driving position has been adapted from the Q5's by Porsche to ensure it is lower and 'more sporty', while the new design of steering wheel for the Macan is very similar to that found in the epic Porsche 918. While we didn't get to drive the car at this event, we had the chance to at least sit behind the wheel and with everything in place for a six-foot driver, there was enough leg- and headroom in the back for a tallish adult. The boot's pretty capacious too. Other than that, the cabin featured the typical clean, high-quality Porsche switchgear arranged in a layout not dissimilar from that found in a Panamera rather than a Cayenne.

Driving it: 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

All throughout our presentations, the Porsche boffins addressing us were keen to keep calling the Macan the first 'sports car' in this segment. This is a brave assertion for something that's 1.6 metres high, knocking on the door of two tonnes and driving through all four wheels - but if anyone can pull it off, Porsche can. The first encouraging signs are that all three Macans have a 57:43 front-rear weight bias, which isn't bad given the model's Audi origins, while the centre-of-gravity on all three is commendably low, at 634mm (S Diesel), 624mm (S) and 623mm (Turbo).

We had an off-road experience in the Macan S Diesel too, in which it proved adept at steep hill climbs, traversing deep gravel and driving across an incline. Whether any Macan owners will ever venture off the blacktop is anyone's guess, but it's nice to know it has some ability in this department. The diesel engine is quiet, has plenty of torque and is reasonably quick, as well, which is probably more relevant to prospective buyers.

The real eye-opening stuff came on the test track, though, where S and Turbo versions were pounding the circuit with development drivers at the wheel. Both V6 petrol engines sound superb, with the Turbo the more enticing of the two, but there isn't a lot between the 340hp S and the 400hp Turbo in terms of straight-line punch. As in, both of them are bloody quick - an Evoque wouldn't see which way they'd gone.

But it was the handling that truly delighted. As mere passengers, we obviously cannot comment on throttle response, brake feel and steering weight (it's an electro-hydraulic system that's 10 per cent quicker than that in the Q5; whether it will be a 991 GT3 hit or a 991 non-GT3 miss remains to be seen), but the grip, body control and general attitude of the Macan are all sensational. There was a constant base-of-the-spine feeling of the rear end dancing around - no surprise, as the Macan is loaded 80:20 in favour of drive to the rear under most circumstances - while understeer seems to be absent from the party. Roll is negligible and the Macan was hugely forgiving when adjusting its attitude mid-bend, no matter if it was a high-speed sweeper, tight jink over a crest or a right-left chicane.

However, it was the moment when, in the Turbo, our driver executed a massive, 50-metre+ power slide in unruffled calm that hammered home the point that this is a driver's SUV first and foremost. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, he went and did it again the next lap. Looking out of the rear passenger window at the road ahead is not something you could ever imagine happening in a BMW X3, for instance, unless you were about to have an accident.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

There will be three turbocharged V6 models at launch in spring 2014, two petrols and one diesel. The petrol engines get two turbochargers apiece, while the diesel makes do with one. For 43,300, you can have either the Macan S or the S Diesel, both 3.0 litres in capacity, with the former developing 340hp between 5,500- and 6,500rpm with 460Nm from 1,450- to 5,000rpm. The S Diesel delivers 258hp from 4,000- to 4,250rpm and a goliath 580Nm from 1,750- to 2,000rpm. A further 16,000 secures the 3.6-litre, 400hp Turbo, which backs up its peak power figure (produced at 6,700rpm) with 550Nm of torque from 1,350- to 4,500rpm.

The S Diesel therefore achieves 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and can run on to 143mph, the petrol S improves on that with 5.4 seconds and 158mph, while the Turbo blasts to 62mph from rest in an incredible 4.8 seconds before topping out at 165mph. Fit the optional Sport Chrono pack with its launch control facility and all three shave 0.2 seconds off their 0-62mph times. Economy is respectable too, the Diesel returning around 45mpg combined with CO2 of 159- to 164g/km, while the petrol S and Turbo models achieve 31.4- to 32.5mpg/204- to 212g/km CO2 and 30.7- to 31.7mpg/208- to 216g/km CO2 respectively.

All Macans share their basic architecture with the Audi Q5, meaning a portion of the engine is positioned ahead of the front axle, but two-thirds of the componentry on the Macan is new and specific to Porsche. It has revised damper and spring rates, fitted its own six-piston monobloc brake calipers (silver for standard, red for the Turbo, yellow for the Porsche Carbon Ceramic Brakes, see below) at the front, worked on the electro-mechanical power steering and adopted its own 'hang-on' Porsche Traction Management (PTM) four-wheel drive system, which directs most power to the rear but can push 100 per cent of drive to the front axle for short periods if required.

The launch models will all come with the PDK seven-speed automatic transmission, and the standard suspension set-up will be conventional springs and dampers. You can opt for Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as the first step up, or go the whole hog with full air suspension and PASM - making this the first model in this sector to be air-sprung. Wheels will range from 18- to 21 inches in diameter, you can beef up the brakes with the aforementioned PCCB and there's an electronically-controlled rear axle diff lock you can specify with Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV+) technology.

Worth Noting

Senior Porsche figures on hand at the launch were not slow to confirm that four-cylinder models will follow the six-pot trio soon after the initial wave of cars. Extrapolating from the spring 2014 launch, we think this probably means sometime in early 2015 for the four-cylinder cars. No more details were forthcoming but expect 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and diesel derivatives developed from Q5 lumps, making these the first Porsches with less than six cylinders since the 968 went west 18 years ago. It was also hinted that the twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel from the SQ5 might not be out of the question...

Summary

Although we've not yet driven it, this was a hugely revealing passenger ride - it seems the Porsche Macan could truly be that SUV sports car its creators so dearly want it to be. The dynamics look to be exceptional, judging by our first acquaintance, and there's certainly no shortage of motive power from any of the three launch engines. It won't be cheap compared to external rivals, and it won't even undercut the Cayenne by that much, but for the level of ability it possesses and its appeal inside and out, the Macan is highly competitive nonetheless. Once we get behind the wheel and hopefully reaffirm our early love of the car, at 43,300 for the two S models you could almost call the baby Porsche SUV a bargain. So if it can wow us once we've driven it, then it will offer a blend of style, cachet, practicality, pace and handling to make the rest of the compact SUV sector weep.


Matt Robinson - 12 Dec 2013



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2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.



2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 

2014 Porsche Macan. Image by Porsche.
 






 

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