WHEN Porsche introduced the Cayenne back in 2002, enthusiasts grieved over the fact that Porsche was no longer solely producing sports cars. The fuss was as severe as when the track-oriented 2016 GT3 RS was available in PDK-only, instead of a proper three-pedal manual transmission.
Ironically, the Cayenne became Porsche’s most popular model and improved the company’s financial flow. In that respect, producing an SUV was a relevant decision and, at the same time, allowed the sports car maker to apply their racing technologies on different platforms with different dynamics.
The arrival of the Macan has been heralded for quite some time before its launch. Despite being loosely based on the Q5, the two compact SUVs only share 30 per cent of their componentry; most of it unseen, of course.
The Macan is available in five flavours, from the base Macan, at RM425,000, to the Macan S, Macan S Diesel, the edgy Macan GTS and all the way to the powerful Macan Turbo, priced at RM840,000.
The base Macan is equipped with optional kits, comprising air suspension with levelling system and ride-height adjustment, including PASM, full LED headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus (PDLS Plus) and BOSE surround sound system, which bumped the price to nearly half a million.
To some non-car people, the Porsche Macan does not look that appealing. If you ask the ladies, they would prefer the Range Rover Evoque or the Audi Q5. Even so, car guys will recognise the Macan as a capable vehicle, even when it is standing still.
To me, the Macan looks very Porsche. It has those bold, muscular curves that give it a solid stance and contemporary Porsche kits like the four-points LED DRLs and three-dimensional taillights. This particular unit also rides on the optional 20-inch RS Sypder Design wheels, which visually warns the driver next to you to not provoke you for a childish stoplight drag race.
Zero to 100 kmph can be completed in 6.7 seconds, and since this Macan is equipped with the optional Sport Chrono package, the same sprint can be done 0.2 seconds quicker.
Power figure reads at 252hp and 370Nm of torque produced by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Mated to Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch transmission, the combination channels the output to all four wheels via the standard Porsche Traction Management active all-wheel drive system.
Despite being an SUV, the interior of the Macan is nowhere near rugged. Instead, the overall construction is, again, very Porsche.
Apart from the sporty three-spoke steering wheel, high-centre console, brushed aluminium interior details, elegant Sport Chrono clock and supportive 14-way sport seats, only few things indicate that the vehicle you’re sitting in is a raised Porsche.
It’s got ample rear headroom and legroom, and has a generous 500 litres of bootspace. With the rear seats folded, the bootspace is expanded to a whopping 1,500 litres.
The Macan is a very quiet SUV, I mean by Porsche’s standard. Even when the centrally-mounted tachometer points at 6 or 7 on the dial, the overall NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) is pretty well-muted.
But don’t be mistaken by the car’s refinement and raised appearance as the Macan still displays excellent roadholding capabilities. The chassis remains poised and controlled during long, high-speed cornering.
The differences between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus are subtle. Even though it wears sporty 20-inch wheels, Sport Plus in the Macan is not tiresome.
However, to put the Macan into a broader context, it slots between the Audi Q5 and the 911 Carrera S in that respect.
Steering is light but sharp and delivers satisfyingly amounts of feedback, while throttle and gearchange is responsive and swift.
Oh, and the PDK transmission is mind-blowingly intuitive. You travel on a highway at national speed limit on a slight incline, the PDK will remain at the gear where the engine rev is at the peak torque range, instead of downshifting.
You’d find it unnatural and doubt the car’s acceleration, but it turns out the gearbox and engine understand each other, thus, you experience an uninterrupted pace while having a lot more grunt at your disposal.
Anyhow, these dynamics derived from motorsports does not compromise the Macan to be an on-roader only. Porsche has thrown kits like the auto-levelling air suspension to improve ground clearance, Porsche Traction Management active all-wheel drive, Off Road mode and hill descent control when the situations get rough.
With a sporty turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive versatility and poised handling, the Porsche Macan is truly a capable SUV. It is indeed a very potent all-rounder Porsche.