Just 11 years ago, outraged automotive writers and sports car aficionados took Porsche to task for introducing the Cayenne SUV. Whats next, they sneered, a hybrid?How times have changed. Last November, Porsche announced that it would build the small luxury crossover Macan. Response was immediate and positive from the media and the Porsche faithful. Now, finally, eager early buyers are wrapping their sweaty palms around the Macans leather-clad steering wheel adapted, incidentally, from Porsches legendary 918 Spyder, a hybrid. Now thats karma. Macan comes from the Malaysian word for tiger, and both the base Macan S and the more powerful Turbo display the same fierce, crouching stance as their feline namesake. They also boast V6 twin turbo engines: The Macan S comes with a 3.0 liter, 340-hp base model, while the Macan Turbo houses a 3.6 liter 400-hp monster. The base model S packs a sublime amount of punch. Floor it and you suddenly understand the tiger reference because you spring forward effortlessly, with no trace of turbo lag. Punch it in a curve where other vehicles, especially SUVs, would already be sideways, and the Macan sits tight, flat and low, with zero body roll. The S has everything that anybody needs. The Turbo, on the other hand, is just flat-out crazy quick and seems to exist just to show off. Then again, maybe thats the point. Porsches trademark, gravity-defying sure-footedness is all there in both models, and handling is phenomenally crisp and dynamic without sacrificing ride quality.Looks are always important in a Porsche, and the Macan doesnt disappoint. The face is pure aggression, and the sides are lowered thanks to a visual trick using horizontal blades at the door bottoms that appear to lower the height.Swing open the racing-inspired clamshell hood and enjoy the admiring gasps, because its a really impressive design innovation the whole front of the vehicle just seems to go right up into the air. Along with eliminating unsightly fender seams, the clamshell channels intake air from the giant grille to either side of the engine into the filters. Fine woods and leathers, wonderfully supportive seats and the now-trademark sloping center console control panel, first seen in the Carrera GT, make the ultra-comfortable cabin a great place to be. From any angle, inside or out, the overall design effect is unmistakably Porsche. Cabin space for passengers is generous and storage space for the kids soccer gear, grocery runs and a round of golf is ample. If youre routinely hauling a medium-sized circus, check out the larger Cayenne instead. Otherwise, the Macan will handle most everyones hauling needs.Porsche chairman Matthias Müller had his marketing hat firmly in place when he said, The Macan is the super sportster of compact SUVs. We think of it more as a big brother to the 911 than a little brother to the Cayenne. Its true. They could have just slapped their hallowed badge onto the Audi Q5, the Macans basic platform, sold a bajillion of them and called it a day. To Porsches credit, the company created a vehicle worthy of the legendary name. Thats good news for the buying public and even better news for Porsche enthusiasts.
Our thanks to Autobahn Porsche Fort Worth’s John Hamilton, who kindly allowed us to drive the new Macan S within 24 hours of delivery, priced at $51,980 with optional seat heaters and satellite radio. Price: Macan S — $49,900; Macan Turbo — $72,300.
Autobahn Porsche Fort Worth
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