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2015 Porsche Macan First Impressions

From trail to track By ,

LEIPZIG, Germany -- One minute we're straddling a 30-degree banked granite incline, stones pinging off the car's undercladding, the next we're chasing a Porsche 911 around a FIA-certified racetrack featuring corners modeled after some of the world's most challenging circuits.

All while driving the same vehicle.

What is the 2015 Porsche Macan?
The Macan is Porsche's entry into one of the most rapidly growing segments in the automotive market: the luxury compact crossover. Over the last half-dozen years, the segment has exploded, selling well over a million vehicles globally -- and shows no sign of slowing down.

With the Macan, Porsche is well poised to take advantage of that growth, and the company predicts it will surpass the full-size Cayenne to become their top-selling model. A turbo-diesel variant will also be released in other markets, but is still undergoing emissions-related development before arriving in Canada.

There's a misconception that this is a re-badged Audi Q5 -- it's not. While parts-sharing with the mother company helps keep costs down, the Macan and Q5 share only the floor pan, and some interior components (roughly 30% in all).

2015 Porsche Macan Price and Specs
When the 2015 Porsche Macan arrives in Canada in late spring, it will be available in two trim levels: the Macan S and the Macan Turbo.

Starting at $54,300, the Macan S features a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 producing 340 hp, 339 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 7-speed, dual-clutch PDK, and Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel-drive. The "S" model sprints from 0-100km/hr in 5.0 seconds.

The Macan Turbo, at $82,200, boasts a twin-turbo, 3.6L V6 with an output of 400 hp/406 lb-ft of torque and can blast from 0-100km/hr in as little as 4.4 seconds.

Standard on the Turbo, our "S" models came loaded with performance options: Porsche Active Suspension Management $1,560 (PASM), Porsche Torque Vectoring $1,700 (PTV Plus), Sport Chrono Package $1,480 (Sport Plus and Launch Control) and Air Suspension $3,140.

Driving the 2015 Porsche Macan
For sports-car lovers who've been forced to compromise, there is no finer handling crossover on the market. On the autobahn, the 2015 Porsche Macan accelerates with the same linear thrust as its sports-car stablemates. While it may not stick to the road with the same suction-cup thrust as the 911 Turbos, there's very little body roll. In fact, it's easy to forget you're not in a coupe.

Bushwhacking in Off-Road Mode through several acres of rugged cuts and steep embankments, the 2015 Porsche Macan proved to be a capable off-roader, although with less clearance than the Cayenne. When equipped with air suspension, the Macan gains an extra 2" clearance.

However, it's on-track that the Macan will make believers out of SUV-haters. Dynamically, the Macan is tight and predictable with the sort of snappy response more suited to a Cayman than a 1,916kg utility vehicle. While the steering lacks the telepathic feedback of the 911, it's perfectly accurate. Switch to Sports Plus mode, and the PDK rips through gears with a familiar melodic Porsche bellow.

Inside and Out of the 2015 Porsche Macan
The Macan's compact size, wide stance, and much lower height give it the look of a bulkier 911 rather than a scaled-down Cayenne. Powerful rear haunches are enhanced by wider wheels, while skinny treads up front sharpen the steering response. Flanks are creased with what Porsche refers to as "sideblades," visually slenderizing and lowering the 2015 Macan and furthering the illusion of a squatting sports car.

Turbo models are distinguished by the signature red callipers and turbo-badging on the rump, and there's available carbon-fibre trim to smarten up those sideblades. Aside from its compact size, the easiest way to tell the 2015 Porsche Macan from the Cayenne is its slick new clamshell hood whose clean, uninterrupted length streamlines the nose.

While the 2015 Porsche Macan moves into the entry-level spot in Porsche's lineup, there's no cost cutting evident in the cabin. It's a typical Porsche environment, with the familiar bank of Carrera GT-inspired switchgear. While un-optioned vehicles are upholstered in Alcantara, our testers were all fitted with first-rate leather sports seats. Dash, doors, and console are stitched leather, and the steering wheel is lifted from the 918 supercar.

The shortened roofline really eats into rear headspace. Still, I rode back there quite comfortably and with plenty of knee room. The seats split 40/20/40 and fold down for a nearly flat load floor.

Comparing the 2015 Porsche Macan
While Porsche seems confident that there won't be any scavenging of Cayenne sales to the Macan, they're bound to lose a few once this excellent crossover hits the market.

So, who will buy the 2015 Porsche Macan? Consumers who've also looked at the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3 or Range Rover Evoque are a given. However, the Macan is also the answer to the driver who always wanted a 911 or Cayman, but whose family obligations insist on more utility. Or, like a friend of mine, who waited until the kids were grown to buy his 911, but he (and his family) can no longer fit in one. For him, the Macan is the perfect solution.
 

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    2015 Porsche Macan S
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